What is Seasearch?
Seasearch is a project for divers and snorkelers, who have an interest in what they’re seeing under water, want to learn more and want to help protect the marine environment around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.
The main aim is to map out the various types of sea bed found in the near-shore zone around the whole of the Britain and Ireland. In addition we are recording what lives in each area, establishing the richest sites for marine life, the sites where there are problems and the sites which need protection.
History of Seasearch
Seasearch is the brain child of Dr. Bob Earll and Dr. Robert Mitchell, who recognised the potential of recreational divers to record inshore marine biodiversity. Since the 1990s it has been run by the Marine Conservation Society and up to 2014 had gathered 450,000 species and habitat records in British waters.
In March 2009, CFT teamed up with Seasearch to provide a marine conservation project for Irish divers, Seasearch Ireland. This project has been running ever since and to date has collected over 50,000 species and habitat records in Irish waters.
More info on the history and work of Seasearch in the UK is available here
Divers are well placed to be the “eyes and ears” of the effort to protect the marine environment around our coastline. During Seasearch courses, divers are trained to complete dive observation forms. The forms are then returned to Seasearch and are used to assist in creating an underwater “map” of areas dived. Local divers are best positioned to observe changes at their local sites and documenting those changes can provide the evidence base for informing public policy and the designation of protections to ensure that divers can continue to enjoy our spectacular marine life in years to come.
Seasearch Ireland operates an open source data policy so all records submitted go to the National Biodiversity Data Centre and are freely available to view via their online mapping system. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a national organisation for the collection, and management of data on Ireland’s biological diversity.
For more on the data collected by Seasearch Ireland click here
Seasearch run a number of schemes aimed at recorders of various levels of experience, expertise and engagement. These are grouped under 4 headings.
Single visit species recording – Observer
Single visit habitat recording – Surveyor
Seasearch training courses are a good first step to dive into the world of underwater biodiversity recording.
Seasearch Ireland training consists of the Observer Course, Surveyor Course, Adopt a Site workshop or a Specialist Course. The Observer course is the usual first step for someone interested in developing their skills as a recorder before progressing to Surveyor and finally Seasearch Tutor. The National Marine Monitoring Scheme training is aimed at those who wish to record as a group at their local site and to track changes to local marine flora and fauna. Specialist courses are just that, focusing on a particular taxonomic group (e.g. anemones, fish, nudibranchs, algae, sea squirts etc.) or on a particular topic. Specialist courses are offered either when sufficient demand exists for a course on a particular taxonomic group, or on an ad-hoc basis, where an expert in a particular taxonomic has become available to present a course.
The most important tool in a recorders kit is his or her own personal knowledge. Then good eyesight, a patient dive buddy, a site with good biodiversity and a clean mask. But after all that the most important tool is the resources to identify what you’re seeing. This can take the form of books, websites, identification sheets or scientific keys.
For more information on the various resources available to those interested in marine identification visit our resources page
Seasearch calendar 2018
21 Marine Algae Identification, Galway
22 Seasearch dive, Carraroe
Start of National Marine Monitoring Scheme recording season
12/13th Observer course , Dundalk & Dives in Carlingford Lough
16 General Marine Identification Course, Galway
17 Seasearch Dive Leitir Caladh
14 National Marine Monitoring Scheme Workshop, Donegal
15 Seasearch recording rally North West, Donegal
18 Introduction to Common Seaweeds, Carraroe, Co Galway
21 & 23 Seasearch Observer Course, University College Dublin
25 Seasearch Dive Rally Dublin
8-15th Seasearch / Porcupine Surveys in Belmullet
6th Bioblitz in Carlingford in conjunction with Seasearch NI
NOTE: If you are interested in organising training, hosting a Seasearch dive or workshop or any other event you would like Seasearch to help with contact us to include it on the 2019 calendar.
By email: SeasearchIreland@gmail.com
Or on Facebook – Seasearch Ireland
And we even post the odd photo on Instagram