Many businesses and individuals in Sussex 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, including Dolphins, under the waves or the threats to its existence.
Our coastline is one of the most poorly studied areas to study marine mammals (Dolphins, Whales, Porpoises, and Seals) in England, and thought to be home to few. Yet recently, we have been getting more sightings of these compassionate animals reported to us.
The Brighton Dolphin Project is an initiative from Brighton-based organisation, the World Cetacean Alliance, that aims to improve awareness about the importance of local marine ecosystems and species that can be found along the Sussex coastline.
Having launched in May 2018, we want to study our beautiful marine mammals found along the Sussex coastline by documenting sightings and collecting images to identify individual animals, as well as unite the local community to become Ocean Champions: people who feel empowered to take steps that will protect our marine wildlife, and its habitats.
The Brighton Dolphin Project is carrying out pioneering studies into local populations of dolphins in Sussex, whilst also showcasing the incredible diversity of marine animals, and their habitats, along our coastline:
- Our Dolphin Discovery visitor centre, based on the Brighton seafront, acts as a place of learning for visitors and runs activities including a VR Experience, displaying artefacts donated to us by the Booth Museum of Natural History, arts & crafts, beach cleans, and scavenger hunts.
- We are the only project in Sussex that is actively contributing to the conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), as well as seals, through a public sightings network which collates sightings of these animals our coastline into a single database. We have over 200 sightings, shared with us by the Sussex community.
Bottlenose Dolphin 005, spotted near Chichester Harbour in January 2017, and then spotted January 2018 in the same location! We identified this individual through the nicks on its dorsal fin.
- We are the only project in Sussex that carries out onboard wildlife trips, especially to the Rampion Wind Farm, which provides a unique opportunity to educate people about our amazing local wildlife, whilst emphasizing the importance of protecting our marine environment.
Our campaign will take the project into the heart of Sussex, engaging the public about what they can do to become an Ocean Champion, and securing the support of universities and research institutes to gather a better understanding of marine mammals in Sussex.
We intend to inspire communities to care about their local environment, encouraging human behavior change that will lead to increasing sustainable practices.
Our project will place a special emphasis on our coastline and marine habitats by developing a unique sightings network and database, which will improve knowledge and protection of our local marine wildlife.
The funding target is set at £2,000, which we will use to achieve everything that we want to do this year. Here’s how we will use the money:
£50 will allow us to develop our educational activities in our Dolphin Discovery Centre so that we can inspire and engage everyone about our amazing marine animals in Sussex.
£100 will allow us to attend events in Sussex so that we can strengthen our community outreach, and reach out to local people about the work we do to protect marine wildlife.
£200 will allow us to purchase binoculars that we can use to look our Dolphins and Seals during our seasonal Wildlife Cruises.
£500 will allow us to purchase equipment we can use to run activities with social groups in Brighton, such as beach cleans, to tackle rising levels of single-use plastic.
£2,000 will allow us to train 12 volunteer wildlife officers to work onboard local tour boats (including to the Rampion Wind Farm), as part of our Wildlife Cruises.
Every penny counts, the more we get, the more buss we can create and the further we can develop strategies that help to reconnect Sussex with its Dolphins. Pledge your support and help us spread the word on social media.
Our Research programme has already collected nearly 200 sightings, identifying 3 different species, and we have educated over 2,300 people about the incredible diversity of marine habitats and wildlife in Sussex.
However, there is no formal sightings network to collate all this information and we cannot hope to better understand more about these remarkable creatures, as well as the seas of Sussex they live in.
This is far from a hopeless situation. We know how to safeguard the future of these beautiful and vital animals: success is within our grasp if the people of Sussex act now to collect data on dolphins in Sussex and unite as one to become a community of Ocean Champions.
Today we have a choice about whether dolphins retain their rightful place in the ocean but, without significant change now, we could see them go the way other now-endangered species, including Elephants and Tigers.
With your support, we can continue to reconnect Sussex with its dolphins, create a community of Ocean Champions, and safeguard the future of our coastline in Sussex.