Secrets of the Solent: our first year

Hurst Spit © HIWWT

As we pass the one-year milestone for our marine project, Secrets of the Solent, we look back at all we have achieved so far.

It's a time for celebration here at the Wildlife Trust, as we complete the first year of our four-year marine project, Secrets of the Solent. The activity of these initial 12 months has been matched by the excitement and promise we've encountered at every turn, and there's still so much to look forward to.

The most impressive thing about our first year has been, without a doubt, the response from local communities. Our call for Marine Champions and Marine Ambassadors - passionate volunteers who play a central role in our work - has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 100 people have now signed up, and we've run two sets of specialist training to help them get the most from their time with us.

Marine Champions on Wightlink Ferry © Emily Stroud

Marine Champions running a ferry safari © Emily Stroud

With the help of these volunteers we've been able to make fantastic progress so far. We've given talks to local groups, raised awareness at public events, undertaken wildlife safaris on ferry crossings, and engaged with communities across the region. Their dedication and enthusiasm is the backbone of the project, and we couldn't do it without them.

Alongside this we've run 12 intertidal surveys at locations across our two counties, which has helped us to monitor the populations of vulnerable species like the native oyster and non-native species like the Asian date mussel. Our Marine Citizen Science Day in June also brought together lots of great citizen science initiatives, and gave us a chance to shout about our own.

More recently, a collaboration with Blue Reef Aquarium has seen us install some fantastic artwork and information boards. Our Wilder Solent campaign, which launched over the summer, is helping people to make small changes in their everyday lives that have a big impact on our marine environment. Next week we'll be installing a Seabin at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton - the first of several the project is putting in across the Solent.

Intertidal survey at Hill Head © Jenny Mallinson

Intertidal survey at Hill Head © Jenny Mallinson

So what's next? As we move into our second year there's plenty to be excited about: we'll soon be launching our sustainable seafood campaign, releasing our inspirational video, and working with local communities on several creative activities. We'll also train our Marine Champions to lead their own intertidal surveys, and also follow some of our Wilder Solent pledge-takers as they make positive changes for our marine life.

We're not the only ones celebrating a birthday this month: as of 19 November, the National Lottery has been running for 25 years. Since the first numbers were drawn, more than £39 billion from ticket sales has helped to fund good causes like Secrets of the Solent. We'd like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund again for making our project possible - who knows what the next 25 years will bring?

Learn more about Secrets of the Solent

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