Friday, 26 July 2013

Meet the Brownies!

Sea Champion Natasha Ewins tells us about her experience supporting marine themed activities with the Brownies...

"When a friend asked me to run a marine evening for a group of Brownies, I suddenly had a "like they have on TV" vision. You know, the one where everything turns to chaos—crying children and tantrums galore with you standing at the centre about to have a meltdown? Ok, perhaps that’s a little dramatic—how bad could a group of 7-10 year old girls be? Nonetheless, I realised I was going to need some help!

Luckily there are lots of Sea Champions in the Bristol area interested in teaching children about marine conservation. Enter Sea Champs Emily, Naomi and Helen. Emily was keen to have a chance to coordinate the evening and she did a fantastic job.

We arrived at the village hall and after a quick run through in the car park, a speedy A-Team style set up operation ensued. Shortly after the Brownies arrived, everyone settled and twenty pairs of expectant eyes were upon us.

Emily started us off with a great introduction explaining the work of MCS. Then the girls split into groups. One group donned tabards and litter pickers and helped us clean up our indoor beach for Litter Pick Panic, learning about where the litter had come from and how long it takes to break down. (Quick note, if you ever need to entertain a 10 year old just hand them a litter picker. Cautionary side-bar, this also causes high levels of excitability and shrieking!)

Meanwhile, back in the main hall the other group was discovering how dolphins use echolocation to find their food. The girls made a circle with three of them standing in the centre. One played the dolphin who was blindfolded and two others were fish. To play the game the dolphin shouted "dolphin", the fish shouted "fish" and the dolphin had to try and find the fish. Think Marco Polo with fins!

The two groups switched so everyone had a go at both activities. Then we brought all of the girls back together for "Paint-a-Fish". This is a brilliant campaign that engages the younger generation in the protection of fish stocks by colouring in a fish to be part of a huge virtual fish stock being submitted to the EU. Calm descended upon the hall as the girls furiously coloured away amongst a mass of felt tip pens and googly eyes.

Then at the end of the night there was just enough time to hand out a few MCS badges and stickers and join the brownies as they stood hand in hand in a circle, reciting the Brownie Promise."

A huge thank you to Sea Champion Emily for coordinating the evening and to Naomi and Helen for their brilliant support. Apparently the girls were telling all of their friends at school about it the next day!

If you'd like to find out more about running a similar evening or any of the activities we used then please get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator.

Sea Champions hosting a "Marine Evening" with their local Brownie group

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Solent is 92Kg lighter when it comes to litter…

Sea Champion Charlie Johnson recalls her beach clean experience: 

“There were smiles all round as the sun finally showed its face just in time for the clean and survey at Bournemouth’s Solent Beach, targeted by volunteers armed with bin bags ready to battle marine litter.

The volunteers split off into groups and embraced the sea air and beautiful sunshine bouncing off the water as they went about their mission to help the environment and keep their beach looking tip top.

Amongst the litter collected were the all too familiar sights of plastic wrappers and bags which cause the environment no end of problems. Then there were the glass shards and bottle tops under rocks and the sand just waiting to cause harm.

With rope, paper and lollipop sticks included in the long list of non biodegradable materials lying around, bin bags were soon filled. Though there was nothing out of the ordinary collected on the day by removing this litter the group have successfully given the ocean and coastline a bit more breathing space and quite probably saved the lives of many of Dorset’s sea creatures. The data collected from that day will also be used to highlight the issues and help MCS take further action.

It took 40 volunteers, from the local area, just over an hour to relieve the beach of 92 kilos of marine litter. Which goes to show—taking just an hour out of your life can make a real difference. We must remember though, when it comes to the environment and litter, it is possible to win a battle, though the war is far from over.”


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Sea Champion inspires kids with Maya Plass!

More than 300 school children have been learning about the marine environment at the Ecover Schools Blue Mile event in Plymouth. 

Sea Champion Alex Milden joined forces with BBC Springwatch presenter Maya Plass to lead hands-on lessons about seashore creatures for youngsters in a waterfront ‘classroom'.

Linking sport to the environment was a sure way to grab their attention, with kayaking combined with a beach conservation workshop, a Plastics Lab designed by Plymouth University and a mini tour of the National Marine Aquarium.

For many of the Year 6 and Year 7 children, this was the first time they had ever been in a kayak – and it proved a big winner!

Alex kindly donated three full days of his time to lead these children's workshops - a big thank you and well done for making the workshops such a success!

Take a look at a short video of the Ecover Blue Mile schools event here, and photos of the event here.

Would you like to try your hand at kayaking? Or have a go at stand up paddle boarding? Then register for your own Ecover Blue Mile where you can walk, swim or paddle a mile to raise funds to save our seas, shores and wildlife.

Or are you keen to inspire the next generation about our amazing marine wildlife and conservation issues? You can find out about becoming a Sea Champion at

Sea Champion Alex inspiring kids at the Ecover Blue Mile schools events on the Plymouth waterfront.

Fish Frenzy Quiz Night

South West England Sea Champion, Izzie Godden, tells us about the quiz she organised to raise funds for our work...

“After deciding to run a pub quiz to raise money for MCS I picked a date and booked the venue. I contacted Marlin Divers who offered try-dives as prizes. I set up a Facebook page with all the details and shared them at school, in the library and at the community centre.

Writing the quiz was the most time consuming task – not just questions and answers but also finding research material for hosting the event.

On the night of the quiz we arranged the tables and chairs, displayed MCS posters around the room and sorted out our raffle prizes. As people started to arrive we asked them to come up with a team name and buy a raffle ticket - overall we raised £157!”

Well done Izzy—another really popular and well organized event!


Izzy organised a free try-dive as a prize for the winning team courtesy of Ross Divers!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Sea Champions complete this year’s first Ecover Blue Mile event!

South West Sea Champions were quick off the mark holding this year’s first Ecover Blue Mile event! To appeal to those who are not so sporty, the team of Sea Champions organised a sponsored beach clean and Beachwatch litter survey at Black Nore Beach near Portishead, raising £200 for MCS.

In addition to the 89 drink containers, 148 bottle tops and 52 fast food boxes, the team also found a rubber duck, a whole fishing net and a vacuum cleaner!

Big thanks to all!

Would you like to hold an Ecover Blue Mile event of your own to raise funds for our amazing seas, shores and wildlife? Visit for more information.

More photos of the UK's first Ecover Blue Mile event here.

A haul of 30 kilos of rubbish in total, including a “Henry” vacuum cleaner!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Help needed at the Big Sea Swim!

Sea Champion Vicky Saunders is
set to take on the Big Sea Swim!
Sea Champion Vicky Saunders from Essex is swimming for our seas in Eastbourne this month - come along and give her a cheer!

We have almost 50 enthusiastic swimmers taking part in this wild swim event to raise money to support keeping our seas and oceans fit for life... and to swim in! There’s still time to sign up for the event and you can register today at

When: Saturday 13th July 2013 from 12pm (swimming commences at 1pm)
Where: Eastbourne beach next to the Lifeguard First Aid post.

We need your help with cheering, awarding medals, giving out hot drinks to the swimmers, plus much more. Contact us to find out how to become an official Big Sea Swim volunteer via

Find out more about the Big Sea Swim.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Scottish Sea Champion hands in thousands of pledges for marine protection

Thanks to Sea Champions who gave a big push on the Scottish MPA campaign this Spring! The Scottish Sea Champions have been hitting events, outdoor shows and museum open days across Scotland and giving talks to Rotary clubs, schools, wildlife clubs and Cub Scouts.

Their hard work resulted in a whopping 3,750 pledges of support that Sea Champion Sarah Conner and MCS staff recently handed to the Environment Secretary. The next step will be to take part in the consultation. Watch this space!

Sea Champion Sarah Conner handing thousands of pledges to Richard Lochhead at The Scottish Parliament.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Dave completes biggest cycle ride of his life!

Fundraiser Dave Luckhurst from near Bishop's Castle in Shropshire, arrived at Land's End at 5:45pm on Thursday after cycling for 39 days and 1,220 miles all the way from John O' Groats.

Hundreds of cyclists every year take on the enormous challenge but Dave wanted to do something different as the regular route just wasn't challenging enough. So he did it off-road as much as possible!

Using bridleways, forest trails, canal towpaths, mountain tracks and disused railway lines, Dave aimed to achieve as much as 50% off road. On a mountain bike, with a trailer! Scotland provided the highest amount of off-road possibilities, ranging from 70-100% each day, but as he progressed south the opportunities became less, so only 15-20% was possible by the time he got to the SW region.

"The highlight has to be going through Scotland where I cycled through all seasons. Spring suddenly caught up with Summer with an explosion of colour and growth - hedgerows and wild flower meadows were awash with colour, it was truly amazing, and certainly a life-changing experience."

"Even after I’ve completed the ride, I’d like to see others trying it, improving it, modifying it, finding parallel routes." says Dave. Find out more at

Everyone at MCS is in awe of his achievement! We are incredibly grateful for the fundraising he has been doing too, which will go a long way to help protect our amazing seas. Dave has raised over £400 for MCS and Greenpeace and if you’ve been inspired you can sponsor him here or if you’d like to take on a challenge yourself, please get in touch with the fundraising team via

Intrepid cyclist Dave Luckhurst stops off at MCS HQ for some cake and to talk about just how much he wants to Marine Conservation Zones work in English and offshore Welsh seas.

and finally, at Land's End after 1,220 miles and 39 days cycling!