Why we survey
Securing protection for Yorkshire’s marine wildlife and habitats is vital if we are to achieve our vision for healthy, thriving seas. But doing so requires an understanding of what lives in our seas, where it lives and why through dedicated survey work. With the relevant evidence we are able to make sound scientific arguments for giving species and habitats protection through appropriate management measures, for example by supporting the designation of Marine Protected Areas, essentially nature reserves at sea.
What we do
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supports data collection on our marine wildlife and habitats. We do this through running dedicated surveys ourselves, such as the annual eelgrass bed surveys conducted at Spurn National Nature Reserve. We run training courses with partner organisations to collect further data, such as recording of intertidal species, collecting skate and shark egg cases and recording sightings of marine mammals. We also support other organisations to conduct their own surveys, such as those undertaken by Seasearch, a group of volunteer divers that record underwater habitats and species.
Case study: Seagrass bed surveys
This marine flowering plant forms dense meadows along our coastlines in shallow water. Grass like in its appearance, seagrass beds have declined hugely in recent decades due to human impacts. In Yorkshire the only known seagrass beds that remain are found in the Humber Estuary and are protected through the Humber Estuary Special Area of Conservation designation. As a protected feature of this site, we work with the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority to annually survey the seagrass beds at Spurn Point.
Surveying the beds allows us to monitor their distribution and abundance from year to year, identify any changes occurring and amend the current management measures in place if and when appropriate. Since beginning the monitoring programme 5 years ago we have found small increases each year in the abundance of seagrass here which is great news as seagrass provides many benefits to wildlife and humans.