School groups of all ages are being invited to help monitor the effects of environmental change on Britain’s sea life by exploring the seashore and recording the living seaweeds found there.
The campaign is organised by the Natural History Museum as part of its citizen science projects, which invite people from across the UK to actively contribute to the museum’s science research.
It was first launched in 2009 when hundreds of people took part. The data gathered, alongside other research, revealed that the distribution of seaweeds around the UK is changing.
Get your class searching for seaweed
Those behind the Big Seaweed Search now want to scale up the survey to collect thousands of new observations and to focus on key environmental issues that need more research. These include rising sea temperatures; the arrival and spread of non-native species of seaweed; and ocean acidification (the sea becoming more acidic as a result of absorbing carbon dioxide from the air).
Home to a particularly high diversity of species, the UK is a special place for seaweed, so there is plenty to learn about while helping the environment.
To take part, teachers can request a free copy or download and print the Big Seaweed Search guide, then visit the seashore and choose a survey plot. This should be a five-metre-wide strip that runs from the top of the shore right down to the sea.
The class should take a photo of their plot, before thoroughly exploring it, recording the seaweeds they find on the recording form and photographing them.
Teachers should then submit their results and photos using the online form, or post them with printed photos to the Big Seaweed Search (address can be found here).
You can send in records at any time of the year and as many times as you like – a great way to create a longstanding project for pupils throughout the school year.
About citizen science projects
The museum’s citizen science projects take place throughout each year and cover lots of different areas of Science, Geography and History.
By recording observations of wildlife, collecting samples, or transcribing handwritten records, school groups can unlock the potential of the museum’s collections and gather vital data for scientists, helping them to better understand the natural world.
Anyone can take part – schools don’t need special skills or training, and it’s a free way to enjoy nature while doing a ‘little bit of good in the world’.
For further information and to get involved in future projects visit www.nhm.ac.uk/take-part/citizen-science.html