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'Citizen scientists' help keep track of England's marine life

Staff writers

April 26, 2013 — A massive research project led by 'citizen scientists' is taking place along England's North East coast.

The Big Sea Survey invites members of the public to get their hands dirty while learning about the environment.

The project was launched three years ago by scientists at Newcastle University and, so far, it has been a resounding success.

More than 300 volunteers were recruited to log the marine life found along a 240 km stretch of coastline in North East England.

Volunteers have found their share of seaweed, crabs, and starfish - all of which are native to the area. 

There have been more exotic discoveries as well.

“One of the most exciting finds was a population of stalked jellyfish,” says project officer Dr. Heather Sugden, in a statement.

“Before now we have spotted the odd one along our coast but they have always been considered to be extremely rare. However, this survey threw up a population of 190 of them living off the coast at Beadnell." 

Dr. Jane Delany of Newcastle University says the public response has been "tremendous."

"The records collected will contribute to national databases of marine species and allow us to build a better understanding of how our seas function," she says.

"Volunteers have a very important role to play in helping scientists and governments monitor the effects of pollution and climate change on the environment."

Visit The Big Sea Survey to learn more.

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