Shore Thing eNewsletter

Welcome to the second edition of the Shore Thing e-newsletter - Shore Thing is approaching the end of its fifth year which is a great achievement and wouldn't have been possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of the hundreds of volunteers who have carried out surveys and of course our funders. Each year the number of survey sites increases along with our ever-expanding database and we continue to raise awareness of the marine environment via the project web site and Shore Thing events.

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


Shore Thing surveys - 2010 has been our best year yet for surveys with 65 surveys completed and there are now 91 surveys sites around the UK coast. (More)

Training - Two training sessions were completed in Scotland during a visit by the Shore Thing Project Officer in September and a third is planned for Anglesey, North Wales. (More)

Website and data - The Shore Thing database now has over 25,000 records. With the help of the experienced Data Archive for Seabed Species and Habitats for Seabed Species and Habitats (DASSH) team this data has been analyzed and interpreted through a series of maps (More)

Kent Coastal Week - The MarLIN team joined a host of organizations running events as part of Kent Coastal Week in October. (More)

Snorkel Safari Training - The Marine Biological Association is organizing a training course in May 2011 aimed at giving interested parties the skills to run Snorkel Safaris (More)

Climate week 21st - 27th March - Climate week is an opportunity for businesses, charities, schools, local councils and others to organise events and activities to highlight the positive steps they are taking to combat climate change. (More)

Book reviews - If you are Interested in improving your ID skills then you may be interested in these two newly published books (More)

Shore Thing Surveys

2010 has been a great year for surveys, a total of 65 have been carried out around the country, from Gairloch on the west coast of Scotland to St. Agnes in the Isles of Scilly. The latter has been a particular focus of surveys this year thanks to the efforts of Becky Oliver, a volunteer for the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust and Julia Nunn who visited the islands in September with the Porcupine Marine Natural History Society. A total of 17 sites (see map) were surveyed on the islands this year including repeat visits to sites surveyed in previous years. All this work is giving an excellent picture of the distribution and abundance of species around the Islands.

In Wales, the Darwin Centre, Pembrokeshire is committed to carrying out annual surveys with students in their area. Other locations such as Bracelet Bay near Swansea were surveyed for a third year in 2010. During a timed species search at LLandudno in North Wales Osilinus lineatus (the thick top shell) was recorded at the northern limit of its range.

Survey sites on the Isles of Scilly
Survey sites on the Isles of Scilly

In Scotland several new sites have been surveyed this year on both the East and West coasts. The West coast is of particular interest as this is where the number of recorded sightings of non-natives such as Sargassum muticum (wireweed) is increasing. The northern species Halidrys siliquosa (Sea oak) was recorded during every survey this year which is good news as an increase in sea temperature will have an impact on abundance of this cold water species.

All site locations are featured on the Shore Thing Google map where you can also download the data for a particular site


Two training sessions in Scotland went ahead without a hitch thanks to the help of local organizers. Teachers and volunteers attended the course at Broughty Ferry near Dundee. Thankfully, the introduction to the project and survey techniques took place in the morning indoors as it was pouring with rain. The sun came out for the practice survey at Carnoustie. Probably better known for its golf, this area also has large expanse of easily accessible rocky shore. Of particular note on this shore was the number of Tectura testudinalis (Common tortoiseshell limpet) surveyed. Shouldn't really be a surprise as they are a northern species but being rather small (not much larger than a penny) spotting them can be tricky.

In contrast the training with staff at the National Museum of Scotland was under cloudy skies and a gale force wind. However, despite the weather participants were still keen and we had a very interesting survey at Portobello, close to Edinburgh City Centre within the Firth of Forth.

A third training session is being planned on Anglesey in February/March. Date has yet to be confirmed but if you are in the area and would like to attend please get in touch.

Website and data

With over 6,500 timed species search records and 20,000 transect records from 91 sites around the UK coast the shore thing has a valuable database with which to help monitor impacts of climate change and assess marine biodiversity. All timed species search data is displayed on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway and the transect data (unverified) can be downloaded from the Shore Thing website. The DASSH team have worked their magic on the data and produced a series of maps showing the distribution and abundance of several climate change indicators over time. They have also used the transect data, after verification, to produce maps of species richness and taxonomic distinctness. There are limits to the analysis that can be applied to this data because volunteer groups species identification is inevitably variable. However, we do have records for 167 verified species records. All species maps will be available for download on the Shore Thing website.

Map showing the distribution and abundance of Sargassum muticum
Map showing the distribution and abundance of Sargassum muticum

Kent Coastal Week

The MarLIN education team headed East in October to run an event at the Reculver Visitor Centre near Herne Bay in Kent. The aim was to promote two MarLIN education projects, Shore Thing and COWRIE (Collaborative Offshore Wind Research Into the Environment). The latter was established 'to advance and improve understanding and knowledge of the potential environmental impacts of offshore windfarm development in UK waters'. MarLIN has been developing education resources and running workshops around the country to raise awareness of 'Life around the Turbines' ( Reculver was an excellent location for both projects with Kentish Flats windfarm visible from the visitor centre and an interesting area of rocky/muddy shore a short walk away.

Whilst some visitors learnt about windfarms and made their own wind turbines a group of around 25 members of the public headed to the shore to carry out a timed species search. The only species to be found in abundance was Crepidula fornicata, the slipper limpet. This non-native species is of particular interest to organization such as Natural England ( because of its impact on native species by smothering seabed species and altering seabed habitat structure.

Snorkel Safari training

If you are interested in running events that allow people to explore the rocky shore at high tide or venture further into the underwater world then you may like to attend a Snorkel Safari training course being run by the Marine Biological Association in partnership with the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). The three day course will be held on the 10th - 12th May 2011 and will include both practical and interactive sessions. Full details and a booking form are available on the MBA website

Climate Week 21st - 27th March

Climate week is an opportunity for businesses, charities, schools, local councils and others to organise events and activities to highlight the positive steps they are taking to combat climate change. This week in March is a national occasion that offers 'an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combat climate change'. The MBA is committed to raising awareness of the potential impacts of climate change of the marine environment through project such as Shore Thing. To celebrate Climate Week we are organising a day on the beach at Mount Batten on 21st March starting at 10:00. So if you live in the South West come and join us.

If you are organising your own event and would like to highlight it on the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) website, please contact Paul Buckley at

Book reviews

Two recently published marine life identification books.

Seashore Safaris by Judith Oakley (ISBN 9781905582334)

Judith Oakley has a passion for marine life and sharing her enthusiasm for all things marine with others which inspired her to write 'Seashore Safaris'. This book is a combination of identification guide and pictorial account of life on the rocky and sandy shores in the UK. All the photographs have been taken by the author over many years and hundreds of visits to the shore.

The book begins with a guide to what you need for a successful exploration of the shore followed by an overview and easy to understand explanation of rocky and sandy shore zonation. Photographs and concise details of marine life found in the two habitats, interspersed with fascinating facts such as 'Did you know as many as 200 different species have been recorded amongst on kelp holdfast?' make this book an excellent ID guide.

This book being put to good use on a Shore Thing survey in Wales
This book being put to good use on a Shore Thing survey in Wales

Judith is a passionate supporter of marine conservation and has been a great supporter of Shore Thing supporting groups throughout South Wales. Raising awareness of the threats to our marine environment is the subject of the final chapter which features issues such as beach litter and non-native species. Whether you are doing a Shore Thing survey or out for your own exploration 'Seashore safaris' will help you put a name to all those fascinating marine species waiting to be discovered and recorded on our shores.

'Seashore safaris' can be purchased on Amazon A Welsh edition of the book is planned for future publication.

Seasearch Guide to Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland by Francis StP. D. Bunker, Juliet Brodie, Christine A. Maggs and Anne R. Bunker (ISBN 978-0-948150-51-7)

Seaweed identification is a challenge; accounting for the majority of enquiries I receive for help with identification during Shore Thing surveys. So I was delighted when Seasearch published the 'Guide to Seaweed of Britain and Ireland' the fourth in a series of identification guides aimed at non-specialist, volunteer recorders.

There are around 700 different seaweeds living on UK seashores and shallow seas that represent 7% of the world species. This guide describes over 200 species, those large enough to be seen by the naked eye or with a good hand lens, with accompanying photographs, distribution maps and a guide to scale. Divided into three main sections, one each for red, green and brown this guide gives an introduction to the classification, habitat and life history of each group.

We recommend that recorders get used to using the scientific name for species, although some can be hard to get your tongue around, as these remain the same wherever you are surveying unlike common names which can have local derivations. However, for those who like to use a common name then you won't be disappointed as the authors have given all 200 species a common name. Some are already in use, others derived from the translation of the scientific names e.g. Mrs Griffiths's Coral Weed, Griffithsia coralloides and some names are just descriptive and fun, e.g. Polka-dot weed. Whichever name you choose to use this book will certainly help you increase your knowledge of seaweeds and how to identify them.

The Seasearch Guide to Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland is available from the Marine Conservation Society