National Marine Week is so packed that they’ve had to make it two weeks long

National Marine Week runs from July 22nd to August 6th, which begs three questions: what is happening, how you can join in, and why they call it a 'week' when it's a fortnight long. James Fisher reports.

Some of the nation’s lesser-known marine residents will get their moment in the limelight for this year’s National Marine Week. The annual seaside celebration is hoping to inspire a new generation of marine conservationists and volunteers with ‘rock-pool rambles, snorkel trails, beach cleans and other events,’ say organisers The Wildlife Trusts, with events spanning a fortnight from July 22 to August 6.

A focus of this year’s event will be the lesser-known species found in UK seas, which are home to some 330 species of fish and 28 cetaceans (as well as cuttle fish, above), plus seagrasses, seaweeds and living reefs. Examples of some of our less glamorous species include brittlestars, which are related to starfish and have five long, flexible arms. They gather in groups of up to 2,000 per square metre, can live in depths of up to 280ft and will shed parts of their arms if they are disturbed or threatened. Another example is the undulate ray, a species of skate that buries itself in sand and mud up to depths of 650ft, and the sea hare, a marine snail that looks like a sea slug, but with an internal shell.

‘From sun stars to seagrass meadows, our seas are awash with fascinating creatures, habitats, and plants,’ says Lissa Batey, head of marine conservation at The Wildlife Trusts. ‘This year’s National Marine Week reminds us of the great diversity around our shores and why it is so important we look after our seas for people, wildlife and climate. We are encouraging young people to join events and find out more about the work being done to protect our shores and seas. From backing campaigns to beach cleans, there are so many ways to get involved.’

Events will take place across the country, from Somerset to Northumberland. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will be running marine-science workshops, which will include shore safaris and beach cleans, and a ‘seagrass festival’ with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust will take place at St Mount’s Bay. Up in Northumberland, the trust will host some family sand exploring, encouraging adults and children alike to get up close to learn about wildlife on England’s windswept beaches. Devon Wildlife Trust will also host night-time rock pooling to see what wildlife gets up to after dark.

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