What Is The Big Seaweed Search Week 2022?
Discover how seaweed plays a vital role in our marine ecosystems and what you can do to help protect them.
This year, the Marine Conservation Society and the Natural History Museum have partnered together for The Big Seaweed Search Week.
As with previous years, The Big Seaweed Search Week encourages the public to go to the seaside and record the varieties of seaweed spotted on the UK shores.
Both organisations have been actively involved in marine conservation and public engagement.
The Natural History Museum is the world-leading science research centre as well as the most-visited indoor attraction in the UK, with the aspiration of envisioning a future where both people and planet thrive.
Find out what you can do to help these great organisations work towards cleaner seas and a healthier planet.
Why is seaweed important?
Seaweed often goes unnoticed - and not because it’s underwater. Did you know that seaweed plays a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change?
Seaweed is an incredible contributor to blue carbon, the long term store of carbon in our oceans, and plays a huge role in creating the air we breathe.
In fact, seaweed absorbs carbon more effectively than trees, storing 175 million tonnes each year, and creates over 70% of the oxygen we breathe.
However, swathes of kelp are declining around the world, limiting the ocean ecosystems’ abilities to absorb carbon - which of course is detrimental to the climate crisis.
Seaweed absorbs carbon more effectively than trees, storing 175 million tonnes each year
Seaweed also plays a crucial role in marine ecosystems, supporting as much as 80% of all life on Earth.
There are over 650 species of seaweed in the UK, all of which play a vital role in their habitats as well as food chains, as they are a rich source of nutrients.
The seaweed is affected by the rising temperatures, the arrival of non-native species and ocean acidification - where the pH of the ocean is affected by the increasing amount of carbon dioxide entering the water.
This means that seaweed also plays a great role in combating ocean acidification via photosynthesis.
Want to learn more about our oceans? Discover the world of seagrass conservation and how our underwater meadows are threatened.
How do I participate in the Big Seaweed Search Week?
The Big Seaweed Search Week takes place 23rd - 31st July 2022 and asks the public to go to the beach and record 14 of the most common seaweed species.
Most common seaweed species in the UK are:
Bonnemaison’s hook weed
This data will then be used to help both the Marine Conservation Society and the Natural History Museum to map the distribution of the species.
As Merit Researcher at the National History Museum Juliet Brodi states, “We’re using the data submitted for our scientific research to build distribution maps which means we can track seaweed species as they respond to environmental changes over time.”
This means that scientists and conservationists will have a better understanding of how the changing planet affects seaweed, and by extension marine life as a whole.
Discover other ways to help conservationists with the Best Apps For Becoming A Citizen Scientist
To get involved as an individual or as a group, simply do the following:
Register to take part and download your guide and recording form at bigseaweedsearch.org.
Choose your 5 metres[AB1] of coastline to survey
Fill in your survey form
Take LOTS of clear, close-up photographs for your survey to be accepted
Submit your survey through bigseaweedsearch.org
Extra materials and resources are available online, in the form of training videos and downloadable resources, meaning that it is super easy to know what you’re doing.
As Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “It’s easy for anyone to get involved in Big Seaweed Search Week – you don’t need to be a seaweed expert or live near the sea, just one visit to the coast will do.
Help play a vital role in managing and protecting our seaweeds, trek to the seaside and join in The Big Seaweed Search Week (23rd to the 31st July 2022).
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