By Sophie Atkinson, Wild Coast Sussex Project Officer
The Wild Coast Sussex project had its last full year of delivery in 2023, and boy did we go out with a bang! We kicked off the year with our ‘Dip a Toe’ campaign held on the 16th January, also known as Blue Monday, where we encouraged Sussex residents to dip their toe into a new experience that was related to nature.
As we entered the spring, we hired our second intern, Lenka Wilkinson, who brought creative and artistic skills to the project. Lenka successfully delivered multiple art workshops with 16–25-year-olds and showcased their work at exhibitions in both Brighton and Shoreham.
We had a big summer, delivering 12 events and reaching 143 young people, and 25 Wild Beach sessions reaching over 200 school children. We also attended Hastings Pride, where we celebrated LGBTQ+ relationships in marine animals. Our third and final intern, Sophie Maplesden, was so pivotal in the organisation of our summer events that we have kept her on as Project Assistant, well done Sophie!
We smashed our net recycling target by reaching 22 tonnes of fishing gear successfully recycled from Sussex ports and saved from landfill. Citizen science was at an all time high this year, with our mermaid’s purse competitions encouraging Sussex residents to go hunting for shark and skate eggcases on the coast, and record them as part of the Great Eggcase Hunt. Our wonderful volunteers were also a great help this year, writing blogs, helping at events, producing social media posts, and anything else we threw at them!
In October, we held a celebration event at SEA LIFE, and invited our volunteers, partner organisations, organisations we have collaborated with, and anyone else who has made the Wild Coast Sussex project so successful. Our attendees got a first look at the new display in SEA LIFE depicting Sussex species and habitats, which will impact 300,000 visitors every year. The evening was a huge success and it was great to celebrate everyone’s achievements, and give ourselves a pat on the back.
Well done to the Wild Coast Sussex team!