Citizen Science

Get involved in citizen science; take part in surveys and record marine life. 

Citizen Science is the involvement of citizens in scientific study. the MBA has a very long history of involving citizens in the collection of scientific data and continues with this tradition through a number of citizen science projects. 

The MBA is a member of the European Citizen Science Association and we strive to follow the '10 principles of Citizen Science' published by the association. Members of the MBA's education team are also members of the international Citizen Science Association

Warming seas, non-native invaders and human activities are all affecting our marine environment. Records of marine life are needed to inform decision-makers, to track changes, to find out why things are changing.  Get involved with Sealife Survey.

The MBA runs an annual Bioblitz with partners, as well as supporting and participating in Bioblitz events run by other organisations. The MBA is also actively involved in the National Bioblitz Network. The 2009 Wembury Bioblitz, run in partnership with the Natural History Museum was one of the first in the country and was (to the best of our knowledge!) The first mass participation marine Bioblitz in the UK. These 24 hour events record biodiversity in the marine environment, and a range of other coastal habitats within a set boundary. We invite participants with all levels of expertise and all ages to join us and are always on the lookout for new venue suggestions.

Plymouth Hoe Bioblitz 2016

14th – 15th October 2016

Last years Bioblitz was held on and around Plymouth Hoe, with our very own Citadel Hill Laboratory as the base camp. A massive thank you to all those who joined us as a volunteer, expert or member of the public. We’d also especially like to thank our sponsors: Plymouth University Marine Institute, Wright and Owen Electricals, Collard Construction and Information in Images without whom this event would not have been possible.

We had over 200 school children from 6 local schools and home school groups visit us as well as 200+ experts, volunteers and members of the public attend. Activities included: seashore surveys, crabbing, plankton netting, plant walks, bug hunts and more.

Records are still being added and verified but over 1,024 species have been identified so far from 1,904 records, which is a fantastic feat for an urban Bioblitz.

Downloads and reports

Media 

For more images of the event and updates on future events visit us on facebook: MBA Bioblitz or search twitter for the hastag #mbabioblitz

Supporters

The event was kindly supported by Plymouth University Marine InstituteWright and Owen Electrical Services, Collard Construction and Information in Images.

 Participating organisations and projects

Contact

For any further information about this, previous or future events, please do not hesitate to contact events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752 633336.

Salcombe Bioblitz 2015

In 2015 the Bioblitz was held in North Sands, Salcombe. Surveying took place from 11am on Sunday the 27th September until 2pm on Monday the 28th September 2015. Over the course of the 24+ hours of the event, 11 timetabled, public-participation activities took place, including scientific surveys and guided walks. More than 250 people attended, including 75 local school children, and over 150 volunteers, experts and enthusiasts, families and members of the public.

A total of 1109 species were recorded.

Salcombe Bioblitz Passport

Pick up your Bioblitz Passport from the Information Desk during the event. Collect stamps from activity leaders or from the information desk after completing ‘Mini Missions’. Once you have collected three stamps, you can be entered into a prize draw to win a selection of t-shirts kindly donated by Monty Hall’s Great Escapes .

Following in Montagu’s footsteps!

Dave Fenwick (APHOTOMARINE) has created a fantastic list many of the marine species authored by the English naturalist George Montagu of Kingsbridge (1753 – 1815).A number of the species listed were first found at Salcombe and one of the challenges is to see how many of these species we can find this year. Dave has included links to his information pages for many of the species, along with some of his excellent photos, so take a look.

Guess the species competition

On Sunday & Monday we will be asking participants of the BioBlitz to guess the total number of species we will find. The individual with the exact guess or the nearest guess will win;A one night stay at The Harbour Hotel in a Standard room, Bed and Breakfast and full use of the Spa Facilities.We will be asking participants to make a donation of £1 to The Marine Biological Association to make a guess

Guess the species total Challenge

Come along to the event and guess the number of species that will be recorded on the day* to win an amazing Night at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel and Spa!

*Total number of unique species entered into the database during the event – Final total may vary. Results to be announced at 14:30. All entries must be received by midday Monday. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random.

Downloads and reports

    Media

    Twitter photo competition

    Thanks to the Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa the MBA is offering a great prize for the twitter photo competition. All you have to do is tweet your best Salcombe BioBlitz picture and you could win; A Spa Day for two at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa including lunch in the Jetty Restaurant

    All you have to do is take a picture reflecting your Salcombe BioBlitz‪  best bit and post it on twitter using the hashtag ‪#‎MBABioBlitz‬. We will announce the winner at the end of the BioBlitz on Monday after 15.00!

    For more images of the event and updates on future events visit us on facebook: MBA Bioblitz or search twitter for the hastag #mbabioblitz

    Supporters

    The event is supported by South Devon AONB and AMBIOS Ltd.
    We are also very grateful to the following organisations for their support:

    We are still seeking sponsorship and support for the event, so please get in touch if you are able to help!

    Participating organisations and projects

    Contact

    For any further information about this, previous or future events, please do not hesitate to contact events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752 633336.

    Batten Bay Bioblitz 2014

    Our annual Bioblitz took place at Batten Bay, Plymouth, on the 12th – 13th September 2014.

    A total of 1027 species were recorded thanks to the invaluable support of all those involved. Thank you for helping us make this possible!

    Surveying began at 11:00 on Friday 12th and finished at 15:00 on Saturday 13th, with the total number of 788 species recorded during the 24h+ of the event announced at 15:00. From this result, the winner of the ICES ‘Guess the number of species’ competition was found, with Christine Carol (Ambios) wining the limited ICES windbreak jacket prize.

    With more than 1,100 species recorded at last year’s Bioblitz in Looe, expectations were high for the MBA’s sixth Bioblitz. The event was part of Plymouth’s Ocean City Festival and ran in parallel with the Ecover Blue Mile event. The event was another great opportunity for all those interested in running a survey or activity, volunteering in other ways or simply coming along to take part and learn more about the amazing wildlife found in and around Plymouth Sound.

    Downloads and reports

    Christine – winner of the ICES ‘Guess the number of species competition’

    Media

    Our Facebook event page, was an excellent tool to keep everybody up-to-date during the run up to the event. Now it is packed full with pictures for your reference and may still be used for other necessary updates. Please like it and share it to help us spread the word.

    Our event was also registered with the National Bioblitz Network. If you enjoyed taking part in the Batten Bay Bioblitz and would like to find other similar events near you, please visit their website

    Supporters

    Crowdfunder Bio Blitz 2014 – Crowdfunder from SWFishUk on Vimeo. Our Crowdfunder Project was successfully funded. Thank you and congratulations to all who showed their support and obtained the amazing rewards that were on offer. Also a BIG THANK YOU to all who kindly offered these rewards, including AquanautsWild Nature Press, South West Fish, Mount Batten Centre and the local artists.

    We would like to thank the Mount Batten Ferry (yellow water taxi departing from the Barbican, Plymouth) for offering a generous discount fare to and from the event from Plymouth Barbican (£1 Adult, £0.50 Children – under 5’s free).

    The Batten Bay Bioblitz 2014 was supported by Plymouth University Marine Institute and SWFish.

    “Plymouth University is proud to be a partner of the Batten Bay BioBlitz. In these changing times it is crucially important that we document the incredible variety of life of our coastal and marine environments. This BioBlitz will help to increase public awareness of these areas, and also help to safeguard them for future generations.”

    Richard Ticehurst, Plymouth University’s Marine Institute.

    “It’s important to bring the community together and experience what sort of wildlife exists on our coastline. Understanding how we can best preserve them for future generations, while encouraging responsible attitudes towards their environments and the beautiful coastline on our doorsteps. We’re proud to be part of this year’s Mount Batten BioBlitz!”

    Andrew Jinman, South West Fish

    The event was hosted by the Mount Batten Centre, Plymouth.

    Participating organisations and projects

    Contact

    For any further information about this, previous or future events, please do not hesitate to contact events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752 633336.

    Looe Biolblitz 2013

    Our annual Bioblitz took place on 23-24 June 2013 in Looe, Cornwall.

    Surveying began midday on Sunday 23rd and finished at midday on Monday the 24th. The grand total was announced at 14:00. We hoped to record in excess of 1,000 species.  We are pleased to announce a grand total of 1142 species were recorded during the event. Huge thanks to all of the experts, and volunteers for all of your effort!

    Media 

    We now have a Facebook event page. Please check it out for regular updates.

    Supporters

    The Bioblitz is took place as part of the Interreg funded Marinexus project, and of the British Ecological Society’s Festival of Ecology a public-focused nationwide celebration of ecological science.

    We were also fortunate enough to receive a generous grant from Sea Changers, which allowed us to run snorkel survey sessions throughout the event. 

    We gratefully acknowledge the support of all our funders.

      Participating organisations and projects 

      Contact

      Please contact us  if you are interested in getting involved in or sponsoring future events: events@mba.ac.uk or 01752 633336.

      Cawsand Bay Bioblitz 2012

      A HUGE thank you to everyone who was involved in this year’s Bioblitz, including all those of you who helped ‘behind the scenes’ before and after the event and everyone who was able to brave the weather to join us. Without all of your support, the event would not have been possible!

      We are delighted to report that we managed to break 3 figures and our current species total stands at 1060! We had 133 people signed in at base camp through the weekend and a similar number taking part in the outside activities overall. We also had over 60 people from the Plymouth Blue Sound Project working with us and a few other small groups working outside, which takes the total to approximately 300 participants overall!

      Notable species recorded during the BioBlitz: 

      • Giant goby Gobius cobitus –A rare intertidal fish species, protected under the W&C Act only found in a few sites in the south west.
      • The Marine Springtail, Anurida maritima and Shore Bristletail, Petrobius maritimus, a couple of the few marine-adapted terrestrial invertebrates
      • The Great Green Bush-cricket Tettigonia viridissima
      • Scarlet Tiger Callimorpha dominula
      • Bordered Shieldbug (first record southwest of Bristol first for the county.
      • A bug, Capsodes gothicus (another county first & first record west of Bournemouth!)
      • The Landhopper, Arcitalitrus dorrieni (originally a NZ species, but in Britain a speciality of the south coast of Devon & Cornwall)
      • A longhorn beetle, Leiopus nebulosus (4th Cornwall record, according to the NBN)
      • Silver Y Autographa gamma and Diamondback Plutella xylostella moths (migrant species)
      • also Elephant, Poplar & Eyed Hawk-moths, Green Arches moth, Long-Winged Conehead crickets, and an adder, which aren’t particularly rare but are nice to see!
      • Epilobium roseum (Pale Willowherb) – found by David Fenwick. Recorded widely across Cornwall but by no means a common species in SE Cornwall, only found in the area at Cremyll in 2007 and at Southdown Quarry in 1990. New for square also.
      • Fumaria bastardii (Tall Ramping-fumitory) – found by Carol Tucker, confirmed by David Fenwick at home. A species rarely recorded in east Cornwall but commonly recorded in the west. Previously recorded from allotments at Cawsand around 1900 by T. J. Willcocks and more recently by Phil Pullen at Empacombe, Cremyll in 2009. So a very good refind of an old record.

      Seine netting from Kingsand Beach

      The view from the Institute at sunrise on day 2

      Downloads and reports

      • Download the final report here 
      • We are still happy to receive species lists, so if you have any species records written down or odd specimens to identify, please send them on to (recording@mba.ac.uk) as soon as you can. We would also love to hear your highlights from the event ( a few we have received already are given below).

      Contact

        For further information, or if you would like to get involved in future events, contact: events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752 633336.

        Mount Edgcumbe Bioblitz 2011

        Our annual Bioblitz took place at Mount Edgcumbe on Friday 30th September – Saturday 1st October 2011.

        Beginning at 11.00 on Friday 30th September, finishing at 13.00 on Saturday the 1st October, the FREE event recorded a total of 979 species and included many activities, including:

        Friday 30th September Rockpooling, make your own bug traps, pond dipping, fishing, bat detecting, moth traps, mammal spotting, night-time bug hunt.

        Saturday 1st October Plankton catching, bug hunt, bird watching, shark and ray egg case hunt, pond dipping, fungus foray, microscopes, art and crafts and much more!

        Media 

        Take a look at pictures from the event 

        Contact

        For any further information about this, previous or future events, please do not hesitate to contact events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752633336 

        Mothecombe BioBlitz 2010

        Our annual Bioblitz took place at Mothecombe Bay, South Devon over 28 hours from 11am on Friday 11th June to 3pm on Saturday 12th June 2010.

        Friday was dedicated to school groups, with four schools from the local area taking part. More than 200 primary school students and a large number of higher education students and trainees took part. Saturday was open to the public from 10am – 3pm.

        The survey area stretched from the western edge of Mothecombe Bay to the eastern side of the Erme Estuary. The survey area extended inland to the Mothecombe carpark and seaward to the mouth of the Erme. This area covers a range of habitats including sub tidal sand and reefs, the rocky shore, sandy beach, coastal cliffs, meadows, scrub and a freshwater stream. Over 1000 species were recorded over the 28 hour long event.

        Supporters

        The event was kindly hosted by the Flete Estate and supported by

        Participating organisations and projetcs

        Contact 

        For any further information about this, previous or future events, please do not hesitate to contact events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752 633336.

          Wembury Bioblitz 2009

          The Wembury Bioblitz took place over 24 hours from midday on Friday 21st to midday on Saturday 22nd August 2009 at Wembury Bay, Devon. It was run by the Natural History Museum London and the Marine Biological Association in partnership with the Devon Wildlife Trust and the National Trust and in association with a number of other organisations. The event was a phenomonal success, with over 100 scientists taking part from all over the country and around 1,500 members of the public joining in in some way.

          The Bioblitz survey area stretched from Wembury Point in the west to the mouth of the River Yealm in the east, and the coastal fringe meadows out to the seaward side of the Mewstone. This area covers a range of habitats including sub tidal waters, the rocky shore, beach, coastal cliffs, wet and dry meadows, scrub and a freshwater stream. 

          The Results

          Results of the survey were fascinating with a total of 825 types of plants, animals and fungi being identified during the 24 hours including:

          • 96 species of lower plant (mosses, liverworts and algae incl. seaweeds)
          • 255 species of flowering plants
          • 302 species of invertebrate (incl. 138 insects, most of rest = marine)
          • 99 species of vertebrate (fish, birds, reptiles and mammals)
          • 1  species of protozoan
          • 35 non-native species (4.2 % of total), including several that are highly invasive. The ratio of native to non-native species isn’t that surprising in itself. However, the extent to which some of the invasive species have colonised an area that is so valuable to native wildlife is worrying. In the case of seaweeds (see below) the extent of non-native species was of particular concern
          • 91 (11.0 %) rare and/or protected species by national or international legislation. A result that underlines how valuable Wembury is as a haven for some of Britain’s most sensitive (i.e. ecologically important, or at risk) wildlife and habitats. Wembury is well known as an important area for marine species, but the results of the bioblitz show that it is also an important location for terrestrial plants and invertebrates
          • 16 UK BAP species, including 8 moths, 1 butterfly, 1 bat, 2 birds, 2 fish and 2 reptiles

          Scientific highlights

          The event highlighted several topics that will need to be investigated through on-going research i.e. it will help to direct some of our science activity.

          Moths: Far more species were found than expected (98 in total). 8 of these are BAP species, including a new record for Devon – Epermenia insecurella. This species is nationally scarce and declining and a very rare record indeed. It is also an intriguing story, as the food plant for the species (Thesium humifusum) is not known from Devon and the moth is not thought to travel far from the food plant. It’s something that the Devon Moth Group are looking into further.

          Fish: We found a good range of the expected species (an impressive 43 species in total), including the plaice Pleuronectes platessa, which is a BAP species. Undoubted stars of the show were an adult and a juvenile Giant Goby Gobius cobitis – a protected species known only from a few sites in UK. It’s good to see that it is still found at Wembury, as there have been some doubts as to whether its range is contracting.
          It was also great to see so many juvenile fish of various species and the site is obviously a nursery ground for several commercially important fish, including bass and turbot.

          Seaweeds: The high diversity was to be expected (over 60 species), but we were surprised by the extent of spread shown by non-natives, including the invasive wireweed, Sargassum muticum. Some rock-pools were packed with several species of non-native seaweed to the extent that they contained very few native seaweeds. This will be followed up by the public Big Seaweed Search survey and ongoing research.

          Portuguese Man o’ WarPhysalia physalis and By-the-wind-sailor, Velella velella were found. Both are interesting migratory species that appear on the south coast every now and then and had obviously blown in from considerable distances.

          Downloads and reports 

          Media

          To see pictures from the event, visit the OPAL image gallery. Why not also take a look at another account of the surveys on the OPAL website.

          Supporters

          We would also like to thank Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), a Big Lottery Fund grant holder, who supported the event financially.

          Giant goby Gobius cobitis

          Portuguese Man o’War Physalia physalis

          Participating organisations and projects

          Contact

           For any further information about this, previous or future events, please do not hesitate to contact events@mba.ac.uk or call 01752 633336.

          Capturing Our Coast aims to share best practice and work with other organisations leading related marine projects. In this way, together we can achieve a co-ordinated join-up of marine survey effort that will benefit the marine environment. There should therefore be something happening at the coast near you.

          The MBA is one of 7 national hubs and the team runs events, training and surveys in the south west region of the UK.

          This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

           Contact us for more information and a chance to get involved.

          The Shore Thing works with schools and community groups around the British Isles to collect information on rocky sea shore life. The project follows on from the UK’s Marine Biodiversity and Climate Change Programme (MarClim). MarClim and has collected over a decade of data.  Find out more and contact us to get involved

          Non-Native Species 

          ​Non-native (Alien, non-indigenous, exotic or introduced) species (NNS) are organisms which have been introduced by humans outside their natural range (Convention on Biological Diversity). Many such species live with no detectable environmental, economic or social consequences. There are a few however, which have identifiable negative impacts on the environment, the economy, and the way we live.  These organisms are commonly referred to as ‘invasive non-native species’ (INNS). The MBA is involved in Non-native Species Research. The Bishop Group  undertakes research into non-native sessile animals and have developed a series of identification guides. The MBA is a partner in the BRC led GB Non-native Species Information Portal and is a key partner in a number of citizen science projects aimed at collecting information about non-native species. 

          Mitten Crab Recording

          Chinese mitten crabs are considered by the IUCN Invasive Specialist Group to be one of the 100 'world's worst' invasive species. They can cause damage to fishing gear and river banks, block intake screens, modify natural habitats and compete with native species. It is this economic and ecological damage that makes this crab such an unwelcome arrival. The full extent of these exotic pests in English and Welsh waters is currently unclear and a consortium of research institutes is requesting mitten crab sightings from members of the public, anglers and waterway workers, to clarify the distribution of this species. The MBA plays a key role in maintaining the scheme and sharing sightings.

          Wakame Watch

          Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is a large species of seaweed originating from the Pacific. Wakame Watch has been established by the MBA with funding from Global Ocean in order to generate an up-to-date picture of the distribution of the species, by encouraging recording of sightings from the public, in particular, we are asking divers, snorkelers, recreational boat users, fishermen and environmental surveyors to let us know when they encounter the species. 

          RISC (Recording Invasive Species Counts)

          The Recording Invasive Species Counts (RISC) project is a way to find out more and to contribute to our understanding of the distribution and ecology of non-native species. It is co-ordinated by the NBN and BRC (part of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology), in partnership with recording schemes for the animals and plants. The project is funded by Defra. The MBA have contributed to the development of marine species recording pages and processes records recieved for:

            Alien Invaders

            'Alien Invaders' was a project developed by the MBA in partnership with Holbeton Primary School. It ran from 2007 - 2015 and protocols and identificatino resources are still available to anyone wishing to undertake surveys. Surveys involved school groups undertaking timed searches for a group of specially selected non-native species and generated records, which were used in peer reviewed accademic publications. The project was develop by and for primary school children, but the resources and protocols have been utilised by groups of all ages and abilities to great effect. For more information contact Jack Sewell