Marine Aliens II project

Controlling marine invasive species by targetting vectors of dispersal

Public engagement and education

Alien Invaders and Climate Change Indicators project

A schoolboy finds an alien seaweed

The aim of the Alien Invaders and Climate Change Indicators project is to teach participants to become 'Alien Detectives' and survey the shore for marine aliens and climate change indicator species.

Since its inception in 2005, over 400 primary school children have been involved and have broadened their awareness of marine species in their local area. They have also contributed data to aid professional scientists studying distribution and abundance of alien and climate change indicator species around the UK.


Project Aims

• To assess the prevalence of selected non-native and climate change indicator species on local shores and enter the results on the MarLIN website

• To enable children to experience real scientific research and interact with scientists

• To develop and inform interest in the local marine environment

• To enable children to experience problems and solutions in collecting valid data


Activities in 2009

Staff from Sealife Centres attended a 2-day training course at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, to teach and deliver the project from their centres around the UKk.
Judith Oakley is working with 10 Swansea schools on the Alien Invaders project, funded by the City and County of Swansea Nature Conservation Team and CCW.



Below are the resources that can be used to run the project. They can be downloaded for free and reproduced cheaply in-house.

Please contact MarLIN if you are interested in running the project with a school as we will be able to give some handy hints.

Simply click on the links below to download the resources:

Primary schools

Primary schools Teacher Features activity - Ask the children to draw and label the key features of their teacher so that another person would be able to identify what they had drawn.

Primary schools Creature Features activity - Similar to above: using cards ask the children to draw and label the key features of one of the animals they will be looking for on the shore so that another person would be able to identify what they had drawn.

Primary schools Recording Form

Secondary schools

Secondary School recording form

Other Resources

Non-native and climate change indicator cards [6.0 Mb] - for identification on the shore

Survey protocol - for teacher/group leader to instruct / refer to

Other things that will be needed during the survey are listed below:



Digital camera (in case identification can not be carried out on site)



The results from all our alien invaders and climate indicators surveys are available below. You can choose to download the complete set of data in one spreadsheet or individual survey data.

Mothecombe April_ 2005 Holbeton Primary School

Jennycliff July_2006 Holbeton Primary School, Newton Ferrers Primary School, West Park Primary School, Pomphlett Primary School

Mount Batten March_2007 Ivybridge Community College

Mothecombe April_2007 Holbeton Primary School

Jennycliff May_2007 Primary Lipson Vale Primary School, Newton Ferrers Primary School, West Park Primary School

Jennycliff May_2007 Secondary Hele's Secondary School, Ridgeway School

Goodrington 04_July_2007 Torquay Community College

Goodrington 12-13_July_2007 Torquay Community College

Yealm Estuary Sept_2007 Newton Ferrers School

Jennycliff Oct_2007 Hooe Primary School

Mount Batten Oct_2007 Saltash Community College

All Survey Data

What will happen to all the data we collected?

The records will be added to the MarLIN database. Eventually they will feed in to the National Biodiversity Network to add to professional survey data from around Britain and Ireland (see and ).

The project is concerned not only with collecting reliable data but also with sharing knowledge and involving lots of schoolchildren in a real research project.


We are hopeful that the project will continue in 2008 and beyond. However, this depends on future funding. If you are interested in helping us, or in getting involved, please contact the MarLIN team
tel: 01752 633336


Project History

The 'Alien Invaders and Climate Change Indicators' project was originally devised by the Marine Biological Association in collaboration with Holbeton Primary School, Plymouth. Initially it was funded by a The Royal Society.



A joint Project Between Holbeton Primary School and the MBA Funded by the Royal Society. The first year of this project involved training 50 Key Stage Two pupils from Holbeton Primary School to find and identify a selection of non-native species and those which may help scientists monitor climate change. The intensive training also involved a visit to the MBA to see real scientists at work and to become more familiar with the alien species that they would be looking for. This was followed by a visit to the shore at Mothecombe, to hunt for and record the species.


A joint Project Between Holbeton Primary School and the MBA Funded by the Royal Society. The second year involved a team of Holbeton Primary School pupils, their teacher Sally Bone and MarLIN staff Jack Sewell and Judith Oakley. The team carried out initial school visits to describe the aims of the project and tell other local schools how to become involved. There was an explanation of alien species and climate indicator species during which pupils were able to observe and hold some of the marine alien species likely to be encountered on the shore. A select few pupils were then chosen to undertake further training at the MBA and carry out the survey of Jennycliff Beach.


An MBA project Funded by the Countdown 2010.This year we have worked with both primary and secondary schools in the area. Six primary school visits were carried out by MarLINs Jack Sewell and Milly Hatton-Brown in order to introduce the project. The secondary school students were not given a school visit but instead were fully trained in the required ID skills during their visit to the MBA. On the shore the students from Hele's and Ridgeway secondary schools learned about adaptation and zonation as well as carrying out the survey.

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