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Our Autumn Main Grants – from shark mucous sampling to thermal imaging of seals!

Grey seal image by Nick Fewings

Our Autumn Main Grants round had a closing date of September 30th and we received over 40 requests for funding. As ever, our evaluation panel had a very challenging task choosing between them. The chosen grant recipients have now been informed and we're very excited by the varied and wonderful activities and projects we can support, all around the British Isles.


The 17 successful projects will receive a total of just over £39,000, with each specific project receiving between £1,800 and £2,500. Projects are being supported all the way from Jersey and Alderney in the Channel Islands, to the North East of Scotland and from West Wales right over to Yorkshire and Humberside.


Some projects will cover the nation as a whole. Humberside Police successfully applied on behalf of the Operation Seabird collaboration. It is certainly unusual for Sea-Changers to receive a request from a police force! The grant will support a brand-new Operation Seabird website aiming to be a ‘one stop shop’ bringing marine and coastal communities together to raise awareness about best practice around the coast. This will better connect marine and coastal communities together for the benefit of marine wildlife and habitat protection – especially, but not exclusively, seabirds, cetaceans, and seals. The project is being led by the existing Operation Seabird collaboration in Yorkshire.

 

Some of this round of funding is supporting vital scientific research efforts – for example a grant to the Pat Smith Database has the objective to collect 250 shark mucous samples which will be held in the long-term storage facility at Plymouth Marine Laboratories. With up to 20 sub samples being available from a single mucous sample, this project has the potential to provide material for 5000 individual areas of study of sharks. The samples will be made available to scientific organisations who are pursuing relevant areas of study and will enable DNA, stable isotope and fatty acid analysis which will assist with population, kinship and other areas of study for these threatened animals. While funding to Manx Wildlife Trust will allow them to purchase a thermal imaging drone for island-wide seal surveys, to monitor abundance and distribution through the year.

 

Many of the projects focus on education, awareness-raising and engagement, especially amongst young people.  For example, the grant to Blue Marine Foundation will support a school’s package that will boost the impact of their Jersey Ocean Observatory initiative, giving teachers the resources they need to bring marine education into the classroom. Whilst Pure Sea will partner with Celtic Deep and provide immersive experiences aimed at 16–18-year-olds including snorkelling in the kelp forest with cat sharks, fin whale and dolphin watching, bird identification, seal spotting, rock pooling, and surfing. Young people will take part in beach cleans and attend workshops with marine biologists, shark scientists and other experts in their area.

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