Wild Coast Celebration

Sophia gives a talk in the sealife centre
Sophia Pinheiro Vergara © Ella Daish

Sophie Maplesden

Wild Coast Sussex Assistant Project Officer

Last month we celebrated the success that the Wild Coast Sussex project has seen so far, with a Wild Coast Sussex celebration party! This was an event held at SEA LIFE Brighton to recognise the achievements of the project in the past three years and the people who have helped make it happen. We were joined by project team members (past and present), project partners, members of the Wild Coast Sussex network, previous interns, our volunteers and colleagues and connections that have helped the project along the way!

The whole of the SEA LIFE centre was open after hours for attendees to enjoy. Surrounded by amazing marine species was the perfect setting for the event. There were display boards showing all the different aspects of the project, including Wild Beach, net recycling, ghost gear and past events which over 300 16–25-year-olds have participated in, such as the Wild Coast Weekend, the Ocean Hackathon, art workshops, Hastings Pride, and themed beach cleans.

The Wild coast sussex team, past and present all stand on a platform above a ray tank at brighton sealife centre. Behind them is the new Sussex species display
Wild Coast Sussex team and project partners © Ella Garrud

As part of the celebration, the Wild Coast Sussex team shared some of the project’s accomplishments. Ella Garrud, Wild Coast Sussex Project Manager, started off with a talk about the many Wild Beach sessions the project has run; over 62 wild beach sessions with 18 Sussex primary schools! She described how amazing it has been to see young people become more connected to the Sussex coast.

Sophie Atkinson, Wild Coast Sussex Project Officer, then explained how the project has been working with Ghost Fishing UK to report Ghost gear sightings for them to retrieve from the Ocean. So far Ghost fishing UK has removed 100 lobster pots and 400kg of nets from the Sussex seabed. She also talked about the fishing net recycling scheme the project has been setting up.

Sophie A is giving a talk in the Sealife centre, the lights are dimmed and red tinted and the ray tank in behind her.
Sophie Atkinson © Sophie Maplesden

Sophia Pinheiro Vergara, Wild Coast Sussex Project Coordinator from Marine Conservation Society, then enlightened us on the events that have been held so far, including silent disco beach cleans, LGBTQ+ meetups and beach cleans, clothes swaps and watersports.

Wild Coast Sussex’s first project manager Nikki Hills, who helped set up the project, explained how great it has been to see Wild Coast Sussex developing over the past 3 years and the inspiring achievements that have come out of it.

Lastly Neil Harris, General Manager at SEA LIFE Brighton, described how SEA LIFE has been involved in the project; providing tickets for competition prizes and the fantastic new Sussex Coastline display that is now above the skate and ray tank.

The new Sussex coastline display at the sealife centre showing pictures and information about rays, skates, crabs, seahorses
Sussex Coastline SEA LIFE Brighton display © Ruby Stothard

The event was also a chance to celebrate the project extension! Wild Coast Sussex has recently been granted an extension until March 2024, news we are all very excited about. Follow us @wildcoastsussex and keep an eye out for future events.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the project and thank you to Heritage Lottery FundLIFE Programme and the national lottery players for making the project possible.

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