Celebrate Marine Month in Essex

Andrew Armstrong

August is Essex Wildlife Trust’s Marine Month, so what better time to get out and celebrate the spectacular coastline right on our doorstep!

The Essex coastline spans 350 miles, with everything from 70-foot high cliffs, meandering marshes running along our mighty estuaries, wildlife-rich tidal mudflats and a variety of sandy and shingle beaches to enjoy. But the Essex coast is not just a haven for people, a whole array of wildlife calls this coastline home as well.

Essex is host to a plethora of amazing marine life including two species of Seal, the rare Native Oyster, Catsharks, Hermit Crabs, Harbour Porpoises and even the Short-Snouted Seahorse that lives in the Thames.

But as BBC’s Blue Planet II showed us, our marine environment desperately needs all the help it can get. Essex Wildlife Trust is running events, beach cleans, shoresearch surveys and celebrating its coastal reserves throughout the month of August. Why not take this month to learn something new about our coastline, visit a new nature reserve, choose to reduce your plastic use or get your kids enthused about our coast at a marine-themed event?

Here are some ideas for how you can get the most out of Marine Month in Essex:

1. Head to one of Essex Wildlife Trust’s visitor centres
Join a ‘Family Fossil Discovery Day’ at The Naze Centre or a guided walk to Stone Point. Go on a marine adventure with the ‘Coastal Capers club’ at Abberton Reservoir, become an ‘Undersea Explorer’ at Hanningfield Reservoir or a ‘Pirate in the Park’ at Bedfords Park. Celebrate all things marine at Thurrock Thameside Nature Park or learn about the wildlife and history of Gunners Park and Shoebury Ranges nature reserve at the Gunners Park Heritage and Wildlife Day.

There is an event to suit everyone this August. Advanced booking is required for many events. For more information, or to find other events near you, please visit: www.essexwt.org.uk/whats-on.

2. Join a Shoresearch survey
These surveys identify and record the wildlife, plants and habitats along the Essex coast. The surveys are free to attend and the data collected can then be used to help build our knowledge of the marine environment; identify the county’s most important sites, habitats and species; and to highlight changes we see in our environment. Please email coastalwarden@essexwt.org.uk to find out more and to book your place.

Tuesday 7 August at The Naze, Walton-on-the-Naze, 2pm-4.30pm.
Wednesday 15 August at Cudmore Grove, Mersea Island, 10am-12.30pm.

3. Come to a beach clean – or organise your own!
There is an organised beach clean-up at The Naze on Sunday 5 August, 10.30am-1pm. All equipment will be provided, please email coastalwarden@essexwt.org.uk to find out more and to book your place.

4. Visit a coastal nature reserve
Essex Wildlife Trust has 87 nature reserves and 19 of these are either right on the coastline or have fantastic views of it. Gaze up at the cliffs of the Naze and look for fossils, go for a walk along the sea wall at Tollesbury Wick or Blue House Farm, take in the amazing views of the Thames estuary from the top of the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park visitor centre, look out over the cockle spit of Bradwell Shell Bank and more. Find a nature reserve near you by visiting www.essexwt.org.uk/wildlife/reserves.

5. Reduce your plastic use!
A very simple action that everyone can do to help our oceans is to cut down on your plastics and try to say no to single-use plastics . If half the UK switches to reusable water bottles, we’d save enough plastic to stretch to the moon and back, in just one year! You can pick up your own reusable water bottle or coffee cup at Essex Wildlife Trust’s visitor centres.