Shore Thing eNewsletter

Welcome to the first edition of the Shore Thing e-newsletter - As we enter a new phase of the Shore Thing project we thought it was time to change the format of the newsletter. Previous editions (PDF documents) can be downloaded from the project website (

For the past 4 years the Shore Thing has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Between 2006 and 2010 the funding has allowed us to inform participants and the wider community about the importance of the UK's marine biodiversity and the potential impacts of climate change on the distribution and abundance of rocky shore species whilst developing a valuable long-term dataset. Now with funding from three statutory agencies; Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England we can continue to engage, enthuse and enable students and community groups to take part in 'real' science.

Please get in touch if you would like to contribute to the next edition of the newsletter.


The Shore Thing - A brief overview of the project aims and survey protocol (More)

The results of Shore Thing Phase I - A condition of the HLF funding was to carry out an evaluation of the project. Feedback from schools and voluntary groups has been sought throughout the project but this was a chance for participants to express what the Shore Thing has meant to them via an independent evaluator (More)

Shore Thing Phase II - Funding from Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England has enabled the project to continue for a further year (More)

2010 surveys - This is the fifth year of surveys, which is excellent news for building a picture of how our seas are changing. Several shores were surveyed for a fifth time with a number of new sites being added to the list (More)

Training - The next training course will be in Dundee on the 11th September 2010 (More)

Website and data - Features of the website are continually updated and we have also improved the data upload facility (More)

Climate change continues to impact UK waters - The latest annual report from the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) of which the MBA is a member, examines the latest research on the impacts of climate change on UK waters (More)

The Shore Thing

The Shore Thing project is an initiative of the Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN) at the Marine Biological Association (MBA). The project aims 'To generate records of marine wildlife by facilitating intertidal biological surveys at sites around the British Isles, and to make the results available to all on the Internet.In addition we aim to raise awareness of marine conservation amongst the participants and the wider community'.

The Shore Thing builds on a research project led by the MBA called Marine Biodiversity and Climate Change Programme (MarClim). MarClim ecologists, Dove Marine Laboratory in Newcastle and Plymouth secondary schools helped to develop Shore Thing protocol and recording forms during a two-year pilot conducted by staff at MarLIN.

The fieldwork is in two parts: a transect survey of the rocky shore and a 20 minute search for climate change and non-native species. Identification cards for each species with photographs and key features help students to accurately record the abundance of these climate change indicators. Individuals are not expected to look for all 22 at once but are allocated one or two to make recording easier and more accurate. Because the data will be publically available on our Web site and the National Biodiversity Network ( for access by scientists and decision makers it is essential that the data is trusted and is correct. To ensure accurate records, groups are accompanied (where possible) by a rocky shore ecologist who will help with species identification and verify the data at the end of the survey.

Once the survey has been completed participants can then upload their data onto the project Web site. The survey data collected from all around Britain can be retrieved from the database by the group, schools or anyone interested in marine wildlife, for further analysis.

The results of Shore Thing Phase I

During the first four years of the project, from 2006 to 2010, over 150 surveys have been completed by students and volunteers at 71 sites around the UK. The project database has a total of 16,158 species records from the transect surveys and 4,484 records of the climate change indicators collected during the timed species search. Groups throughout the UK have been well supported by local organizations and ecologists. The funding provided by HLF has enabled us to provide professional support for participants.

Part of our HLF funding was an evaluation of the project at the end of the funding period. This was undertaken by the Association for Science Education (ASE). A survey was sent to all participants; teachers, ecologists and volunteers to gauge their opinion on aspects of the project.

The evaluation report 'headline' sums up the overall thoughts of the evaluator from the results of the consultation.

'The Shore Thing project excelled at involving people in real science. It gave students and voluntary groups an excellent insight to the climate change debate especially the need for collecting good data over a period of time. It enabled school/college students to see science and scientists "in action"; enabled students to meet working scientists which gave them ideas about what future careers in science might involve. It added value to the wider understanding and experience of science. It stimulated a lot of local people into interest and ownership of their coast'.

Thanks to the tremendous support from schools and voluntary groups we met all and in some cases exceeded our targets. The training courses proved a great success and resources such as the Teachers' Pack were very well received.

Shore Thing Phase II

The value of the project has been recognized by Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England who have provided funding for a further year. The funding will be used to increase the network of sites and ensure repeat surveys are carried out. In Scotland the emphasis will be on engaging with community groups. In Wales attention will be paid to translating existing material into Welsh and news materials will be bilingual depending on demand. In England the focus will be on locating new sites in the South East.

New funders mean new logos. All the resources have been rebranded so please download the latest version from the web

2010 Surveys

Summer surveys have been completed so now it's time to start organising autumn surveys. This year has seen the largest number of summer surveys completed since the project began. Twenty three so far and records are still being entered. The majority of these were repeat surveys which is excellent as this data will help us to monitor change. The first survey of the year wasn't in the UK but at Santec in France. Students from Plymouth University carried out a timed species search as part of their ecology studies. The majority of the 22 climate change indictors were recorded including Parcentrotus lividus (purple urchin) which hasn't been recorded on a survey in the UK....yet.

A sea slug Coryphella lineata
A sea slug Coryphella lineata
Students from Gairloch High school surveying South Beach with the local SNH officer
Students from Gairloch High school surveying South Beach with the local SNH officer

In May I visited Scotland to meet with teachers, volunteers and organizations and assisted students with surveys near Fort William, Portree (Isle of Skye) and Gairloch. Thankfully the weather was glorious for most of the week. The students stuck to their task despite the odd distraction such as a sea slug, Coryphella lineata found at Glenuig by students from Kilchuimen Academy. The photo gives the impression that this slug is a giant but in reality they only grow to a maximum of 5 cm so it was a good find. Moving north, students from Gairloch High School surveyed south beach, close to the Rua Reidh Lighthouse and my final destination was the Isle of Skye to visit Portree High school.


A training course in Scotland, England and Wales is planned for this financial year. The first is in Dundee on the 11th September. David Lampard, an MBA member and curator at the McManus museum in Dundee has helped to organise this one day course which includes presentations and a practical session down at the shore near Broughty Ferry. If you are interested in attending please get in touch. Contact details below.

Other courses are planned, details of which will be posted on the News and Events section of the project website.

Website and data

The website has had a small facelift since the project began and we regularly update the 'News and Events' section, the Google map, which can now be accessed via the top menu bar and the 'Gallery'. The database has been updated in response to feedback from participants. Recording the location of the survey site has been made easier with the lat/long section being divided into degrees, minutes and seconds and the OS grid entry now includes a drop down menu for the two letter prefix. Previously only data for two of the three timed species search habitats could be entered at a time. Now all the data can be added at one visit avoiding the need to enter the site details for a second time.

Climate change continues to impact UK waters

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest annual report card on 15th July 2010 providing the very latest updates on how climate change is affecting our seas. Almost 100 scientists from 40 leading UK science organisations contributed to this peer reviewed report, which covers 30 marine and coastal topics. New findings in this latest Annual Report Card (ARC) include:

  • Temperatures are generally increasing, but inter-annual variability is high; 2008 UK coastal sea surface temperatures were lower than the 2003 - 2007 mean.
  • Some fish distributions have moved northwards over the past 30 years by distances ranging from around 50 to 400km, with coldwater species such as monkfish and snake blenny moving the furthest.
  • Climate change has contributed to a decrease by approximately 9% in the total number of seabirds breeding in the UK between 2000 and 2008. Breeding success has also declined over the same period.
  • Increasing sea temperatures may have the potential to increase the geographic range of some harmful algal bloom species associated with Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) events.

The Regional Snapshots of Marine Climate Change Impacts provides a good synopsis of what is already happening and what could happen in different regions of UK coastal waters. Changes relevant to the Shore Thing climate change indicators include:

  • Gibbula umbilicalis (Flat top shell) is now established on rocky shores in the southern North Sea
  • Cold water Alaria esculenta (Dabberloacks) is decreasing in abundance
  • The northern limit of Sabellaria alveolata (Honeycomb worm) is extending

These observed changes highlight the need for us to continue monitoring our rocky shores. All data is valuable data!

Follow this link to download the full report

Contact details

Fiona Crouch - Shore Thing Project Officer - The Marine Biological Association, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, Devon. PL9 8UP. Telephone: 01752 633336, Email: