2019 has seen extraordinary sightings of minke whales and bottlenose dolphins in UK waters, restoration of vital saltmarshes and conservation action by thousands of marine and coastal volunteers. The Wildlife Trusts’ Living Seas teams are the eyes and ears of the UK coast and have compiled their most memorable highlights – a marine review of the year. In brief:
Changes in marine environment
Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of living seas, says: “2019 saw a sea-change in people’s attitudes. The extent of the nature and climate emergency is becoming increasingly clear and more people than ever are volunteering to be citizen scientists and conducting important surveys or taking action to tackle the profound problems of marine litter and plastic pollution. They’ve shown their commitment to healthy seas by supporting The Wildlife Trusts’ campaigns to ensure government policies create more and better protection for marine wildlife and waters around the UK.”
Good news: New project records whales and dolphins off Yorkshire, a commuting seal, and success for Sandwich terns, razorbills and grey seals
A new citizen science project recording sighting of whales, dolphins and porpoise off Yorkshire’s east coast had a highly successful first year; trained volunteers logged 320 individual sightings including minke whales, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise. A network of 30 volunteers trained by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Sea Watch Foundation became the ‘eyes and ears’ of the coast and spent over 330 hours surveying from 30 different locations.
Photographs identified one pod of bottlenose dolphins and showed they’d journeyed from Scotland. The sighting off Flamborough Head was the furthest south they have been officially identified. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust researchers accompanied specialist wildlife boat trips logging minke whales feeding off Staithes.
[Ed: we had to highlight this one, Staithes is just over the moors from us]