The wonders of seagrass: Lesley’s volunteering story
09 December 2022 / By Lesley Batham
We asked volunteer Lesley what inspired her love of seagrass
and how she’s been spreading the word.
I was lucky enough to grow up by the sea…
…in a small coastal village called Anderby Creek in Lincolnshire. I had an idyllic childhood. My playground was the golden sandy beaches. I spent many hours with my friends making multi-room dens out of the sand, swimming in the sea and combing the beach looking for shells to make painted animals to sell to the tourists. The frogs were the most profitable! I have a huge love of the sea, and after a career in the NHS I’m so glad I can use my time now to help preserve the essential seagrasses around our shores.
I was first introduced to the Marine Conservation Society by my friend Sarah Pearson. Sarah’s passion and energy to support the seagrass project really inspired me. I was amazed at all the ways people can get involved, and learning from Sarah about the amazing qualities of this wonderful plant, I just had to join her. The health of our oceans and seas is critical to survival in the face of climate change.
Sarah had a great idea…
…to plan a seagrass information stall at the Riverside Festival in Lewes, ‘Love our Ouse’. We set to work and decided to create an interactive experience for the typical age group of children expected at the festival, 1-10yrs. We decided to create a walk-in seagrass meadow with creature templates for children to colour in and peg up, creating a biodiverse meadow. Once we realised the amount of work involved to set up the installation, we quickly drafted in the help of two willing volunteers, our husbands John and Mark.
We were thrilled to see how the children loved taking their carefully coloured creatures into the seagrass meadow, enhanced by background underwater sounds. They described it as a sensual, calming experience. They wanted to stay, but with over 450 children coming through in 5 hours, we had to gently encourage them out so others could enjoy the experience.
The format worked so well. We could share the wonders of seagrass with parents while the children coloured in their creatures. We also told the children quirky facts about the creatures they were colouring in. For example, a sea hare snail squirts liquid like an octopus to deter prey and a stalked jellyfish stays attached to the Seagrass its whole life. The seahorses were the most popular.
The interest in the seagrass meadow was incredible. It was undoubtedly the most popular installation at the event. We now have all the resources to repeat this event at any time. We have also had interest from a local primary school.
Sarah and I are looking forward to doing more events in the future to support this wonderful project.
If you are interested in volunteering on this project, please contact us.