Thursday, 31 October 2013

Underwater pumpkin carving!

On a foul and spookily rainy and windy night, intrepid pumpkin carvers ventured underwater...

Big thanks to our friends and fundraisers at Frogfish Photography - they've just held an underwater pumpkin carving competition, at Capernwray in Lancashire, in aid of MCS! Check out more photos here.

Thanks also to Welsh Sea Champion Kate, who's created some fab marine themed spooky cakes for Halloween. Why not give them a go as a Halloween fundraiser? Great to take into the work place, university, or Autumn fairs. 50p a slice anyone? Download the activity sheets for some spooky cake tips and ideas.

Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

PIB discharge banned!

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that regulates shipping decided to ban the discharge of high viscosity polyisobutylene (PIB) the horrid sticky substance that caused the death of over 4,000 seabirds off SW England in April this year.

Sea Champion Gemma James, who also volunteers for the Marine Wildlife Strandings Network, understands the significance of this step forward after she coordinated the collection of seventeen dead seabirds at Batten Bay's Big Beach Clean-up in April.

The ban follows lobbying by MCS and other environmental NGOs.

Sea Champion Gemma James collectning seabirds coated in PIB at Batten Bay earlier this year

Monday, 28 October 2013

Sea Champion Kay speaks out for our seas

Sea Champion Kay Foster gives an account of her recent talk to around thirty people from her village:

"Jonathan Holt, from the North West Wildlife Trusts, joined me to talk about Marine Conservation Zones whilst I talked about the work of MCS, the problems of overfishing, habitat damage, discards and bycatch and what MCS is working to change in order to stop these damaging activities.

The audience were particularly interested in how they could change their fish eating habits and some of them admitted they were nervous of buying fish they weren't familiar with because they weren't sure how to cook it or what it would taste like. There was a popular suggestion that they hold a fish cooking and tasting session in the village hall.

One member of the audience runs the local chippie and asked how she could persuade her customers to try different fish, and I threw that question open to the audience, who are her customers.
I found the audience were genuinely very interested, and the organiser had to cut the session short or we could have been there all night answering questions!"

Are you interested in giving a talk in your area? Get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support.

Kay Foster and Jonathon Holt talking about the work of MCS

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

"Marine Magic" on the Isle of Skye

Scottish Sea Champions and the RSPB joined forces to meet up with children on the Isle of Skye inspiring them about Scotland's magical marine life.

In several 45 minute workshops, children listened to the journey of the leatherback turtle to Scottish waters where they also learned about the threats turtles face along the way. Meanwhile, teachers learned about ways in which the schools can take action through adopting angling litter bins and taking part in Beachwatch beach cleans and litter surveys.

Next up was the "Litter Timeline" activity where children learned about litter degradation times, a "Forensic Trail" where the children became nature detectives to solve a case of turtle nest predation, and a seashore "Touch Table" where children could look up close at some of the more unusual things we find on our beaches.

By the end of the four days, 650 children had taken part from 24 schools! Phew. 

These are great activities to run for 4-12 year olds. Get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support if you are interested in running any of these activities.

Learning about the incredible journey of the Leatherback turtle to Scottish waters


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

300 advocates for marine conservation

Thanks to all of our Sea Champions across the UK! Between you, you have donated a whopping 928 days of your time! You've spoken to over 25,000 people at over 200 events, talks and beach cleans, about marine conservation issues, and have raised over £16,000 through membership, pin badge sales and fundraising events.

You've been helping tackle beach litter by installing 13 angling litter bins in Scotland and Wales, and 20 of you signing up as new Beachwatch Organisers.

Interested in volunteering for MCS? Become a Sea Champion and become part of a growing network of volunteers helping to protect our amazing seas, shores and wildlife. Find out more about Sea Champions>>

Don't forget Sea Champions - we'd love to hear your thoughts on how we can develop the programme further. Please spare a few minutes to take part in our short survey and be in with a chance of winning a couple of bottles of wine and two beautiful seafood cookery books.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Sea Champions spreading the word at university Freshers Fairs

Sea Champion Sophie Rush tells us about her experiences as the voice for our seas at her university Freshers Fair in Plymouth...

"Sea Champion Alex and I hit the Fresher’s Fair of Plymouth University on 22nd September, setting up next to Plymouth’s Marine Biology Society at the University and encouraging the new intake of students to get involved in marine conservation. The response was astonishing with an impressive number of people signing up to become both members and Sea Champions. Marine conservation has never been more important and it showed that students at Plymouth truly understand this and want to have more of an impact in their local community.

The Marine Biology Society team was extremely supportive of our cause and even helped recruit a few new volunteers, many of them becoming members themselves! Plymouth is such a marine-focussed city that people really take interest in our goals with respect to conservation. Several were keen to discuss ideas for helping in the future which look to be promising and meanwhile our literature almost flew off the table, including many of the Good Fish and Beachwatch guides.

It was really uplifting to see such passion for the marine environment and to recruit some very motivated and positive individuals. It seems we may have an army of Sea Champions in Plymouth soon!"

 University Freshers Fayres are a great way to enthuse students about marine conservation and volunteering.  Get in touch with your Volunteer Coordinator for support if you'd like to consider representing MCS at your university.

Sea Champion Sophie at Plymouth University Freshers Fair

Monday, 7 October 2013

Children's 'pester power' can help tackle the plague of ocean debris

In July we blogged about Sea Champion Alex Milden helping to teach school children about the marine environment through workshops at the Ecover Schools Blue Mile event in Plymouth. Results of a recent survey show just how important these workshops have been.

Before and after the workshops, children completed the Ecover Blue Mile's short survey so we can gauge whether children's perceptions about marine litter had changed.

Results show that youngsters' views changed as they learnt more about the topics of marine litter and came to understand the impacts and solutions. More specifically, children’s problem awareness increased as they showed more concern about the issue after taking part in the event.

Children also perceived greater negative impacts of marine litter, and their knowledge improved regarding the possible sources of the rubbish, the predominance of plastic, and the potential time it takes litter to degrade.

Crucially, the children reported that since the event in June, they are now encouraging family and friends to perform more litter-reducing behaviours, showing the importance of ‘pester power’.

This shows just how important it is to engage with the next generation, and it is a big part of what Sea Champions is all about.

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

Take a look at the Ecover Schools Blue Mile Image Gallery

Sea Champion Alex running beach workshops at the Ecover Blue Mile event in Plymouth.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Kate completes her first half marathon!

Welsh Sea Champion Kate Wilson ran 13.5 miles around the Forest of Dean at the weekend, to raise funds for MCS. Here’s what she has to say:

“The fact that I completed the Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon just shows that anybody really can take on the challenge. I absolutely hate running, and I had never ran more than 20 minutes before. But despite this, I signed up with the view that more people would sponsor me if I did something that I would really find gruelling.

I had a team of friends who signed up too, to help motivate me, and I had colleagues who trained with me on a weekly three miles.

The day came far too quickly, and the longest I had ran was still a measly three miles. I was dreading it! Not only was it a huge distance, it was very hilly. But bizarrely, I actually enjoyed it! The sun was shining, the atmosphere was fantastic, and there were loads of people at my pace to talk to along the way. I was absolutely fine up until 10 miles, and only really found the last 3 miles a struggle. I barely walked, but my jogging pace was so slow I was practically walking anyway. Even though I was painfully slow, I’m proud to say I wasn’t last!

I think this shows that anyone can do this – why not take on a challenge and tick off something from your bucket list?”

Would you like to be a fundraiser for MCS? Check out our support resources.

Kate (third from left) and friends set to run the Forest of Dean Autumn Half Marathon!