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Project information

Engaging Local Communities with Marine Wildlife

Most people are unaware of the marine wildlife which occurs on their doorstep. MARINElife want to set up a series of boat surveys to investigate whales, dolphins and seabirds close to UK coastal communities. Through our project, we aim to engage local communities in marine research and the

3 Years

Charity information: MARINElife

MARINElife logo
  • Need


    The marine environment is under threat and very little robust evidence exists on the year-round status of whales, dolphins and seabirds close to the UK coast. Local communities and boat operators are in an ideal position to help understand and protect the wildlife found on their doorstep.


    We will set up a series of coordinated surveys for whales, dolphins and seabirds using volunteer surveyors and boat operators recruited from the local area. The surveys will provide valuable data on the year-round distribution and abundance of marine wildlife in the area. We will present our findings during the project to the local community through talks and other local events and highlight any potential for responsible local eco-tourism.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Initiate project at a local level


    » Recruit a coordinator for the project
    » Talk to local community (skippers, public) to promote project
    » Recruit and train local volunteer surveyors and boat operators on identification methods and running MARINElife surveys
    » Develop a sightings postcard and website for key species

    What success will look like

    Success will be having more than 5 local boat operators and a trained group of 10 volunteers able to conduct surveys

    Aim 2

    Run marine wildlife surveys


    » Place volunteers on boats to conduct opportunistic and dedicated surveys
    » Record whales, dolphins and seabirds and take photo-identification shots of key species
    » Input data from surveys into an electronic database
    » Analyse data from surveys and develop predictors of distribution and abundance

    What success will look like

    Success will be conducting 8 dedicated surveys and 10 opportunistic surveys in each area

    Aim 3

    Engage Community


    » Run VIP trips for key stakeholders from local community
    » Present updates on surveys to local community including talks at schools and local shows
    » Advise on eco-tourism opportunities for local small boat operators
    » Publicise project on website and through the local press

    What success will look like

    Success will be attendance and communication of findings at 3 local events annually and an increase in participating boat operators to 10 and volunteers to 15 after the first year

  • Impact


    Based on our work in Lyme Bay, such local projects inspire the local community. We aim to continue to run opportunistic surveys and collect data with the support of local boat operators beyond the initial year by continuing to recruit new volunteers and boat operators to the project. By looking at long term trends and providing our data to policy makers, we aim to establish the importance of the areas in question with policy makers which will protect the livelihoods of the local community.


    The main risk is that the unpredictable British weather prevents surveys from being conducted at the regular intervals planned. This can affect the ability to find volunteers at short notice to conduct surveys. This does impact our current projects elsewhere, but weather windows do occur and with a dedicated pool of volunteers, this does not pose an insurmountable problem.


    Donors will receive regular updates on progress of the project through a newsletter every 2 months, a six-monthly charity update and through daily sightings updates on our website. Presentation given will also be detailed on our website.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £65,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £25,000 Boat Hire Conducting dedicated surveys across 3 sites
      £35,000 Staff Costs Project Coordinator and lead scientist
      £5,000 Operation Costs Dedicated website and venue hire for local meetings
  • Background


    3 projects are planned along the coast of the North Sea
    * Essex / Kent Coast (Maldon, Colchester, Margate, Ramsgate, Southend-on-Sea)
    * Lincolnshire Coast (Skegness, Mablethorpe, Sutton on Sea, Ingoldmells)
    * East Yorkshire Coast (Outer Humber, Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington)


    Local community and coastal wildlife in the area have most to gain. We will be able to showcase the area to wildlife enthusiasts and decision makers to help safeguard the wildlife for future generations. Our engagement programme will extend to children and youth groups in the local area.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    MARINElife has been studying marine wildlife since 1995. We are a well respected research and education organization involved in the collection and interpretation of survey data for the benefit of education and conservation. We have successfully run two coastal marine wildlife projects, the first in Lyme Bay Dorset and the second off the Northumberland coast

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Tom Brereton

    Director of research at MARINElife and has been involved with the organisation since its inception.

    Dr Colin Macleod

    Has been a scientific advisor to MARINElife for many years and is based at the University of Aberdeen.

White-Beaked Dolphin (Tom Brereton)

White-Beaked Dolphin (Tom Brereton)