26 September 2008

"Utterly, generally or mostly barren"

Is what 44 per cent of the population thought of the seas near where they lived. Almost one in five people were unaware of their spectacular underwater heritage.

Sounds like Singaporeans and Singapore?

(Actually, I'd be happy if this was the current state of awareness for Singapore).

No, this was a study done in the UK. Here's more details, and what is being done to raise awareness there.
The Rich Sea Life We Know Nothing About
Red Orbit 25 Sep 08;
Almost one in five people in the South West are blissfully unaware of the basking sharks, multi-coloured coral and fields of seagrass that lurk beneath the surface of the sea, a new report claims.

Environment body Natural England has carried out research showing that just 18 per cent of people living in the South West believe the region's seas contain diverse populations and landscapes.

To coincide with an awareness-raising publicity campaign, the organisation has produced a series of maps to underline the "beauty and variety" of England's undersea landscapes.

Janette Ward, regional director of Natural England, said this was despite the region's seas boasting forests of kelp, soft meadows of seagrass, rocky cliffs smothered with jewel anemones, corals and sponges, and open waters which were the haunt of basking sharks, turtles and dolphins.

"We are fortunate, there is an incredible medley of landscapes and marine life around the South West," she went on.

"Our undersea environment has dramatic landscapes with valleys, hills, plains and cliffs and is a source of intrigue and fascination.

"There are all these great places under the waves. For example, spectacular undersea cliffs around the Eddystone, and seagrass meadows in Torbay."

Lack of awareness of the natural environment in the South West prevailed elsewhere in the country, the survey suggested. Nationally, less than one per cent of the population could name a feature of the landscape under English seas. Furthermore, 44 per cent of the population thought the underwater was "utterly, generally or mostly barren" in the seas near to where they lived.

A map charting England's undersea landscapes will be published this week in the BBC Wildlife Magazine.

It will accompany an article called Discover England's Super Seas written by Tooni Mahto, one of the presenters of BBC 2's forthcoming series, Oceans.

Natural England has also created five regional maps, including one for the seas off South West, which highlights a level of environmental diversity that is among the highest in Europe.

The maps form part of Natural England's undersea landscapes campaign which, throughout the summer, has been encouraging people to find out more about the richness of their local marine habitats and wildlife by attending free marine-themed events.

Natural England intends to run more events next year. To find out about the campaign and to download the South West map, visit www.naturalengland.org.uk/campaigns/marine

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