During the past few diving seasons we've been taking part in the Marine Conservation Society's Seasearch program. The aim is to establish a continuing survey of the UK's marine wildlife to identify important habitats, vulnerable species, monitor change and better understand the effects of human and natural and influences. The East coast is the least surveyed of the UK's marine environments. The often uncooperative nature of the North sea doesn't help as diving is very weather dependant. On top of that we have negligible 'reef' which means most diving is distant from shore*, around wrecks, but when it's good it's really good.
*With a few exceptions - notably Norfolk's shore diveable shipwrecks, the Vera and Rosalie and the marvellous North Norfolk chalk reef
We have large colourful reports on our activities: Just one for 2008 and 2009 but 2010 was considerably busier and there are two, one on the North Norfolk chalk reef and general a 2010 Seasearch one too. Our 2011 Seasearch report will be joined by a report on our Seaweed East survey and when the 2012 report appears it will join extra summaries for the potential MCZs in the following areas Alde and Ore Seasearch , Blackwater, Colne, Crouch and Roach , North Norfolk Mussel Bed reference area and North Norfolk Chalk Reef
Dawn (assisted by Rob) is the Eastern region coordinator for Seasearch. We try to contact as many local divers as possible to promote Seasearch, arrange courses and events. The aim is to foster a group of keen divers to help survey the local marine wildlife. Why not visit the main Seasearch website to find out more about the project and joining the Marine Conservation Society or contact us about courses and with any questions you have. If you are a group or club who are interested in Seasearch just let us know and we'll be very happy to visit and explain more about it - in return we'd love to hear what you've seen on your dives in the region.
We're trying to foster the Shoresearch intertidal survey in East Anglia too. It's a shore based wildlife survey which anyone could take part in on a coastal day out. We've run marine wildife courses in Norfolk and Suffolk to get the ball rolling.
Talks back to top
Want to know more about Seasearch, why not invite us for a chat? We promise we'll give you an entertaining and informative chat in return. Talks on Seasearch are free (as those expenses are supported) our guide to the chalk reef is used as a fund raiser.
We also speak on marine life for local groups, events and dinners all over Norfolk and Suffolk. We are booked more than 12 months ahead so don't hang around!
Courses back to top
Every year we hold courses; normally a Seasearch Observer course in early July and a specialist event later in the year. Check our Facebook page for up to date details! We are Seasearch East - suprise, surprise!
2015 Looks like it might be a good year!
4/5th July Seasearch Observer, Sheringham
25/26th July Seasearch Sponge, Holt
Annual survey week:
27th July - 1st August - Various sites; Lincs, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex - Probably!
2014 was busy, so busy!
Courses in 2013
Check on our Facebook group 'Seasearch East' for activities this year
28th April Fish ID for Divers, Great Yarmouth with Dawn and Rob
Courses in 2012
2/3rd June Marine Species ID, Sheringham with Frances Dipper
7/8th July Seasearch Observer, Sheringham
Photography fun - on demand
Courses in 2011
10th April Fish ID for Divers, Great Yarmouth with Frances Dipper
9/10th July Seasearch Observer, Sheringham
Dutch Photography workshop
Norfolk Photography workshop
2010 was hectic, were you at these?
17/18th April Marine Species ID, Sheringham with Frances Dipper
10/11th July Seasearch Observer, Sheringham
Winter Photography fun - pool based 28th Feb (done)
2009 was pretty busy, see what you missed
Fish ID for divers - Spring 09 News with Frances Dipper
Seasearch Observer courses in Sheringham, Lowestoft and Sea Palling
We've had other club and shop enquiries too so there may be always be other dates appearing. We can also run a 'dry' course for environmental workers as an introduction to the project. The content would be the same but there would be more time spent explaining the complications of surveying underwater :-)
Diving back to top
When there's decent visibility we'll be diving regularly... check our Facebook group 'Seasearch East' for activities and some dates will appear on the main Seasearch calendar or e-mail us to see what's planned. It's hard to keep this page up to date so we don't tend to list dive dates here. The East Anglian season is fickle but we aim to have the following on offer.
'Meet the divers' events with Norfolk Wildlife Trust
These were great fun last year. A chance to introduce the public to diving off the North Norfolk coast. The idea is to shore dive and share photos and findings with the general public, who will have been warned!
Sea Palling - 7m RIB - ~£25 for 2 dives, 1 wreck 1 drift.
There'll be a £5 rebate for completed Seasearch forms. £25 is payable in advance to secure your place and non refundable unless the boat doesn't go.
N.B. We were very lucky to have our Sea Palling plans rescued by GYSAC
N.B. 2 We were let down by the outfit we originally booked with and the MCS had to go to the small claims court the deposit money. If you would like to check who to avoid please get in touch.
Lowestoft - Sexy 14m hardboat - £50 a day for 2 dives
There'll be a partial refund for completed Seasearch forms.
£50 is payable in advance to secure your place and non refundable unless the boat doesn't go. These will be long days as we will dive sites (almost certainly both wrecks) on slack.
We have the following dates booked:TBA
Although 3 of our 4 dates were weather affected the trip out to the Alto in June made up for it and Adrian was a great host.
It's hard to keep this page up to date, we don't tend to list shore and inshore dive dates here.
There are Seasearch dives planned nationally throughout the year - see the main Seasearch site for details.
Qualification FAQ: When there's diving planned with events we usually have questions about the level of qualification and insurance that Seasearch events need so we've added a page to explain - in short it's easy if you are a regular club diver but PADI divers usually need 3rd party insurance.
Supporters back to top
We are very grateful to have been kindly supported by several bodies:
The Wildlife Trusts - support our diving
We whole heartedly support their North Sea Wildlife campaign and applaud their efforts to raise the profile and public awareness of the marine environment of England's East coast.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust - we have worked together for several years to raise public awareness of marine issues and can't speak highly enough of their enthusiasm.
Norfolk County Council has helped through several departments:
Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (NBIS) - Norfolk's wildlife record centre
Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership (NBP) - Norfolk's environmental planning
Norfolk Coast Partnership (NCP) - Through their Sustainable Development Fund (SDF)
All have been very supportive and help has made a huge difference to what we have been able to accomplish. It has made possible the concerted recording efforts on the chalk reefs which have proved so productive.
Fugro Ltd have been very generous and their donation of a sonar has played a very important part in the recording of the North Norfolk chalk reefs. We especially acknowledge the help of Dave Thistletwaite at Fugro in using the sonar during our surveys.
Highfield Strand helped us by donating printers hugely. Many thanks to their director Duncan Jay.
Our Seasearch volunteers are of course the heart of all that has been accomplished and without them the survey in the East could not continue. It is difficult to credit everyone as much as they deserve but we always hope it's some compensation that the diving it pretty good!
Local Seasearch History back to top
2012 and 2011 see opening section at the top of the page.
2010 Summary: We a Observer course, and were lucky to be joined by Frances Dipper again for a marine ID special. The vis held out stubbornly but when we did get in we had support from NBP, NBIS, Fugro and The Wildlife Trusts and managed to get our highest number of records ever.
This was another media filled year. After marine week we had lots of local coverage and held a multi screen show with NWT at the Forum in Norwich. Then out of nowhere the story of the chalk reefs took off and made the nationals.
2009 Summary: We ran the usual Observer courses, and were lucky to be joined by Frances Dipper for a Fish ID special. The vis held out stubbornly but when we did get in we tried new shore sites and managed to get a record number of forms back from a really good dive year. Our new boat was tried but didn't make an impact as events conspired against it :-( We did however snatch success from the jaws of a normal year when GYSAC helped us find a huge new mussel bed and we finally had some good dives off Suffolk.
We had a media frenzy around Marine Week and produced a book and DVD for Norfolk Wildlife Trust
2008 Summary: Observer courses were run in Sheringham (June) and Norwich (September) and we were very lucky to have Jim Anderson come down from Scotland to tutor our Nudibranch ID course in June. When the vis did arrive we had a pretty good diving season ourselves, out with clubs and our Observers. Observation and Survey forms were returned from a wider range of sites than before although we still struck out for Suffolk and Essex - we desparately need to find active divers to cover those coasts. As well as documenting our favourite shore dive wrecks, we adopted them too - we're still waiting for the CSA to get in touch.
2007 Summary: Observer courses were run in May, June and October. A course in August at the Orca Scuba Diving Academy for the Essex Biodiversity Project added another 6 Observer candidates! Our last course of the year (6/7th October) ran sucessfully and another 7 Observers completed their first 2 dives and are well on their way to surveying. We know it can sometimes be a little tough to get past the first 2 supervised dives and to complete the next 3 assessed forms... which also meant we have enjoyed the company on our dives of some divers from previous courses elsewhere. It has been very rewarding to see how much purpose the course has added to their diving.
We got a couple of articles into the local press, the first on Seasearch and the second on the campaign for a Marine Bill
We planned to continue diving locally through the winter but the weather conditions haven't been favourable since the storms in November. We hope to eventually complete a continuous annual survey but maybe that will have to wait for another year :-) Contact us for updates on the next trip and recent conditions. If you fancy bringing your friends along our guide to North Norfolk's pair of shore diveable shipwrecks, the Vera and Rosalie, is here.
Forms back to top
The Observer form and the new Surveyor form can be found on the main Seasearch recording page which also includes guidance on filling them in.
Shoresearch isn't a national program, it was devised by the Kent Wildlife Trust, and these forms are have been developed for East Anglia. Shore surveying can be quite informal so long as you report What, Where and When you are recording. There are two versions of the form, both essentially the same, to download as PDF files:
The first preloaded with lots of names, for iSpy fans and convenience in typical surveys
and the second with less names for those want more space or are finding different species
Seasearch books etc back to top
Links back to top
We're part of a network of Seasearch regions around the country and in our surveys we use several very useful sites to help with our species ID.
Other Seasearch Groups
North East www.seasearchne.org.uk
S & W Wales www.wwmc.org.uk/seasearch_sww.html
Northern Ireland www.seasearch.co.uk/northernireland
Durham Coast www.durhamheritagecoast.org
Helpful ID Sites - Good places to help your species spotting
The web site of the Natural Sciences department of the Ulster Museum, National Museums of Northen Ireland's Wildlife Encyclopedia, Habitas - has made lots of useful infomation available to all. All hail Bernard Picton a true web information hero and Claire Goodwin who seems to do a lot of the work ;-)
Their Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland is a great resource:
They have a section on The Sponges of Britain and Ireland:
Bernard's book Nudibranchs of the British Isles is out of paper print but thankfully still online:
Marlin, the Marine Biological Association's ID project - www.marlin.ac.uk/sah/species_information.php
Jim Anderson's Scottish Nudibranch site is excellent - www.scottishnudibranchs.co.uk/
The Field Studies Council (FSC) has a guide to the seashore:
International Year of Biodiversity - www.biodiversityislife.net
UK Photos back to top
We're often told we must be masochists as we enjoy diving around the UK and in many ways prefer it to some of the blue water diving that we've done. The UK offers varied and often beautiful diving with diverse wildlife and habitats. We're not pure wreck enthusiasts but appreciate their role as natural reefs which are magnets for everything from cod to cuttlefish. British wildlife is often less extrovert than its tropical counterparts but rewards the effort made to see it.
If you still don't believe British dives can be colourful and interesting perhaps a browse through our UK galleries will help to change your mind :-)
Feel free to get in touch: