UK: To coincide with World Oceans Day, a seabed map of Dorset has become the first in the UK to be made freely available to the public. The Dorset Integrated Seabed (DORIS) study map displays contours, reefs, wrecks and rocky ledges, as well as many of the seabed’s habitats from Abbotsbury to Swanage visible through linked photographs and species lists of multiple areas. It is available through Google Earth.
Peter Tinsley, marine conservation officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said, “This map marks a huge step for the marine environment. Already it has enabled us to find important wildlife hotspots and we want to continue pushing back the boundaries of knowledge about a part of the county that still holds many mysteries.”
The DORIS scheme has been undertaken by Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Channel Coastal Observatory. Environmental company Viridor Credits provided a major biodiversity grant of GBP 300,000 (EUR 362,135) through the Landfill Communities Fund.
The map will be used by MCA to update navigation charts, by the Channel Coastal Observatory to offer information to coastal engineers and by the Dorset Wildlife Trust to identify significant and vulnerable seabed habitats.
Further, the Dorset Coast Forum’s C-SCOPE project will use it to create a marine plan for Dorset.
“Recreational divers can now choose an interesting or unexplored spot from the map, take the GPS co-ordinates and head straight to it,” Peter added.
He said that they are particularly seeking volunteer divers to help them continue the surveying and fill in more habitat data.
As the project is proving successful, an opportunity exists to continue the work over the next two years, to extend the map to the western tip of the Isle of Wight in the east and to span the entire Lyme Bay in the west, thereby giving the Dorset coast full coverage.