Brighton is one of the most popular tourist spots in the UK. Around 11 million people visit every year, and for many it’s the draw of the sea which makes it so popular.
But it can be difficult to relate to a vast blue ocean as something to respect and protect when you can see very little of the marine wildlife who live under the waves.
The Brighton Dolphin Project are trying to change that, by encouraging people in Brighton and the surrounding areas to build a deeper connection with the ocean and the wildlife which lives there.
Simon McPherson, a manager at the Brighton Dolphin Project, explained: “We aim to engage, inspire, and excite everyone in the community about the incredible marine life that can be found right off our coastline, and what can be done to protect it.
“We were set up as we realised many businesses and individuals feel a close connection to the sea – for many of us it’s a big part of why we live here. But few are aware of the diversity of marine wildlife that can be found under the waves, or the threats to its existence.”
Since the project was set up two years ago, they have welcomed thousands of visitors to their Dolphin Discovery Centre on Brighton seafront and run a series of wildlife watching boat tours around the Sussex coastline to help visitors connect directly with ocean wildlife.
Volunteers have also held workshops about local marine life in schools, organised beach clean ups and launched a unique initiative to record and log the different species of dolphins and other sea creatures who live off the coast.
Since 2017 visitors and residents have reported more than 100 sightings of marine life, including three different species of dolphin, one species of porpoise and two species of seal.
Simon said: “We cannot hope to better understand these remarkable animals, as well as how to protect them, without reliable and regular data.
“This has led to a disengagement of people who want to take action as they may see their ocean as a big blue space devoid of wildlife, as so little is seen above the surface of the water. It is challenging to inspire pride and wish to protect something you cannot see.
“We want to inspire our community to act now to collect data on marine mammals and unite to become a community of ocean champions.”
The Brighton Dolphin Project need more wildlife sightings to continue their research. If you live in the area, or are visiting, and spot a dolphin or other marine animal then please send in the information, along with any video or photos.
The project also need volunteers to train as wildlife guides who will educate visitors on boat trips about the marine life to be found in the area.
If you think you can help visit brightondolphinproject.org/ to find out more, or find them on social:
By Jenna Sloan