One week in the Solent

23 March 2022  /  By Lindsey Hollingsworth, Natural England Thames Solent Marine Lead Adviser

Lindsey Hollingsworth

Wow! What. A. Week. Spring finally felt like it had sprung last week as myself and a number of the ReMEDIES partnership headed down to Hampshire to plant the first of four hectares of seagrass in the Solent Restoration site.

Wonderful volunteers in Plymouth and the Solent packed more than 20,000 seed bags. 6,000 bags had been packed by volunteers at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth on Friday 11 and Sunday 13 March. These were then transported to the Solent where around 130 volunteers packed a further 14,000 bags over the week.

Deployment barge in the Solent

We were so pleased to see so many people giving their time, from individuals to workplaces like the marine team at local law firm Lester Aldridge who joined our packing event at the National Oceanographic Centre, and Natural England staff who came to pack at the barn at the North Solent Nature Reserve.

The bags need to stay wet once packed, and our restoration lead Ocean Conservation Trust aims to get them into the water soon after they’re packed. So, on Wednesday 16 March, we made an early morning journey to Portsmouth Port to watch 12,000 bags in crates being craned onto the barge by the helpful team at the port.

Barge travel is slow. It took around an-hour-and-a-half to chug our way from Portsmouth to our restoration site, west of the Beaulieu River mouth. The weather was not on our side either. Although the sea was calm it continuously rained. But, this didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and mood of the team. We managed to deploy all the bags and then headed over to the Institute of Marine Science to join Portsmouth University staff, students, and local residents for more bag packing.

Finally, some sun…

Friday brought entirely different weather. The sun beamed down, and we all peeled off a few layers as we planted the final 8,000 bags in spring warmth. Now we wait and watch. We will closely monitor the progress of the seeds over the course of the next few months. Germination should start to happen over the next month or so. In the meantime, we start planning the second phase of planting for the Autumn.

We could not have done it without the amazing volunteers that showed up to pack seed bags. A huge thank you to everyone who made last week a success, We hope you enjoyed it and will keep up to date as the project progresses. Visit our seagrass restoration pages to find out more.