The Wildlife Trusts this week published their Marine Review for 2019, revealing both highs and lows for our coastal wildlife.
Compiled by the Trusts’ Living Seas teams, together with thousands of volunteers who are the eyes and ears of the UK coast, the report looks back at some memorable moments from the past year.
In good news, 2019 was a bumper year for the grey seal colony at South Walney in Cumbria, and an excellent year for Sandwich terns at Cemlyn Bay in Wales, with extraordinary sightings of minke whales and bottlenose dolphins recorded off the Yorkshire coast.
The past twelve months have also seen positive action taken to restore salt marshes and grow new seagrass meadows, with 41 new Marine Conservation Zones bringing the total to 91 in our coastal waters.
As the extent of the nature and climate emergency becomes increasingly clear a change in attitudes has also been reported with more people than ever volunteering to be citizen scientists. The Wildlife Trusts organised 450 beach cleans in 2019, with the help of over 5000 marine volunteers, and The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Fishing 4 Litter project collected 27 tonnes of marine waste, among many other highlights.
However, 2019 was a bad year for the Kittiwakes on the Isles of Scilly as the colony failed to produce any chicks, and more marine wildlife than ever suffered from the effects of plastic, litter and discarded fishing gear.
Last year also saw the highest number of reports of wildlife being disturbed by people as Trusts reported jet skis frightening dolphins, kayakers scaring seals, drones causing wildlife to flee and disruption to feeding and successful breeding as a result of human interference.
Some good news reported in Scotland though as proposals to create the world’s first protected area for basking sharks, in the Sea of the Hebrides, was supported by The Scottish Wildlife Trust, which encouraged more than 3000 people to back the plan.
If you would like to find out more about The Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas project and how you can get involved visit www.wildlifetrusts.org