Studland Bay

Not good news at Studland Bay

By | Donating, Studland Bay, The Seahorse Trust News | No Comments

studland beach

Dear everyone,

Still no seahorses at South Beach (Studland Bay) this year despite so many hours in the water. The seagrass bed is like a desert with little to no life. Not only is it fragmented it the seagrass beyond the leading edge is very short and the scoop marks where the anchors have been are so obvious.

Please help to push this campaign as we need to try and get the authorities to change their minds and the only way to do this is collect data and information about the site. We have been running our Studland Seahorse Project since 2009 and the numbers have just crashed at the same time the seagrass has degraded. It has to be protected in line with international laws and environmental demands. Please dig deep and support our work.
Thank you.

PLease check out our GoFundMe page

Just how safe are the boats in Studland Bay

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Interesting how the boating folk argues about the right to use ‘their moorings’ at Studland but if they could see the state of the links that they are attaching these very expensive boats too, I don’t think they would. I know I certainly would not tie up a rowing boat let alone a nice yacht to some of these moorings.
Another good reason why the Environmentally friendly moorings are a good idea, as they would be insured, maintained and most importantly safe.
Note the typical bottle dropped over the side of a boat, this one full of rubbish, a common practice, luckily only a small handful of boat people do this and it is frowned upon but most right-thinking boat owners.

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Petition now closed and submitted

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The Care 2 petition to DEFRA to get them to change their mind over making Studland Bay a Marine Conservation Zone ended yesterday with a final figure of 153,585 from 76 different countries which is staggering.

The boat owners who are against this reacted by saying ‘foreigners’ should not have a say on English conservation which is quite strange as we are always telling other countries to protect their wildlife.

The UK is a signatory to the IUCN which means it is legally bound to enforce wildlife law and to set up Marine Conservation Zones for vulnerable species and habitats and so it is failing in its statutory duty in protecting both species and habitat.

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition and we have now submitted a large amount of data and information to the consultation process and we have very high hopes that Studland Bay will be included in the next tranche of MCZ’s in 2016.


Campaign to make Studland an MCZ

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There has never been a time more urgent in the conservation of Studland Bay; yet another year has gone by and the seahorses have all but disappeared and now the tragic news by the government that the site has been dropped from this tranche of the Marine Conservation Zone process. We have to fight and get this decision reversed and we will do everything in our power to get this done, so please support us through GoFundMe and please sign our petition on our Facebook page. Thank you on behalf of the seahorses who only have us as their voice.


Studland Bay in Dorset is the most important sites for Spiny Seahorses in the UK and yet it has been dropped from the Marine Conservation Zone process for the second time, depsite the seahorses being threatened on the site and their numbers dropping from 40 in 2008 to 1 in 2014. Even though they are legally protected !!
The Spiny Seahorses at Studland are under threat from the loss of their home, the seagrass bed because of unmanaged yachts and boats dropping anchors on the site destroying the seagrass and because of illegal moorings being put into the seagrass. The very seagrass that is home not only to the Spiny Seahorses but also a myriad of other rare and endangered species. It also helps to defend the beach and clifss by diffusing wave action, something that will cost the council millions to do if it were not there. The beach is already losing its sands and the cliffs had a number of rock falls last winter.
We have aksed for Environmentally friendly Moorings to be installed so the boats can still visit the area and the seagrass will be protected but DEFRA has dropped the formation of the MCZ because a small handful of yacht owners made an objection, even though they have no scientific evidnce to support their views, depsite the fact the seahorses (and the seagrass because of the seahorses) are legally protected. We want to raise £5,000 to fight this unjust decision and to get the bay back onto the proposed Marine Conservation Zone list. Please donate to the cause so we can lobby government and all the relevant authorities. This urgent we do not have long to achieve this, so please dig deep to help us to help them. Thank you

Reverse the decision and make Studland Bay an MCZ

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After pressure from a very small handful of yacht owners, DEFRA has capitulated and dropped Studland Bay from becoming a Marine Conservation Zone in this tranche of the process. This could not come at the worst time when the seahorses have dropped from 40 animals in 2008 to 1 in 2014 and the seagrass is fragmenting to a point where the sand on the beach is disappearing and the cliffs are starting to crumble.

Seagrass is natures defense against this type of erosion and as the seagrass deteriorates it will mean the council and government will have to spend tens of millions of pounds to build ugly sea defenses, ruining this area of beauty and why? because a small handful of yacht owners might have to pay to moor up to environmentally friendly moorings rather than drop their anchors into the seagrass and rip it apart. These sea defenses would not be needed if the seagrass which is natures natural defense system is protected and allowed to do its job for free.

These few yacht vocal owners, unlike the vast majority of responsible yacht owners, do not care about the environment and base their arguments on spurious claims which have no basis in science and yet The Seahorse Trust and Southampton Universities National Oceanography Centre have studied this site for years and through peer-reviewed research have proven that the site is degrading and the seahorses have disappeared


Where has all the sand gone. This picture was taken this winter only a few weeks ago by Kim Maidment and it shows the black line on the gabions where the sand used to be but it is now gione and bits of the surrounding cliff are dropping as they did last winter and why, because the seagrass is fragmenting and there is nothing to diffuse wave action to stop this from happening.

Please sign the petition below to get DEFRA to reverse the decision and to ask them not to put shaky economic arguments in front of their legally binding obligation to protect the seahorses and the seagrass.

Seahorse Trust attending the MCZ meeting for Studland Bay

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We are attending a meeting tomorrow at Poole to discuss Studland Bay becoming a Marine Conservation Zone. It has been a very long very slow process but we have kept going and kept pressure on to make this highly vulnerable site protected. The seagrass has fragmented and is being destroyed and the seahorse numbers have crashed from 40 in 2008 down to 4 in 2013 (non so far this year), despite The Seahorse Trust getting them protected under the Wil…life and Countryside Act in 2008. We know the problems facing the seahorses and the seagrass but to date the authorities have refused to do anything to protect the site (despite the law).
We hope the making of Studland into a Marine Conservation Zone will be the start of a management process to try and restore this beautiful bay so the seahorses and seagrass can thrive again. The donations below and others we receive (from individuals and organisations like the Sealife Centres) mean that we can get on with this vital job; every bit of the sea or countryside that is lost, is lost forever. We hear about rainforests needing protection, which is vital to the planet but the seagrass meadows are our underwater rainforests (equally vital to the planet) with a stunning array of species living in them. As Ben from Project Seagrass (please see our facebook page) says they are vital to our planet as carbon sinks, wave diffusers to stop coastal erosion and as homes to a multitude of species.
Again thank you for your incredible support without you we would not have got this far, your donations have allowed us to undertake research and to lobby those that need to listen, if we had not lobbied so hard we would not be having this meeting tomorrow and we need to make them listen to make this beautiful bay preserved for the future of our planet.

Studland among MCZ considered sites

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At a meeting on the 24 February, DEFRA  announced the sites which are under consideration for the second tranche (T2) of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England.

37 sites are being considered for inclusion in Tranche 2 which cover both inshore and offshore sites right around the English coast.

Studland Bay in Dorset is to be considered and so it falls on all of us to lobby hard to DEFRA on making this special area an MCZ. As I know more I will let you know how to lobby DEFRA but meanwhile please write to them, e-mail them, phone them, there details are on their website, anything to make this happen.

Studland is a very unique site for so many reasons but from our point of view it was home to a large group of Spiny seahorses. I say WAS because since 2009 to 2013 the number has dropped from 40 individuals down to 4, despite warnings that this was happening by The Seahorse Trust. which came from our survey work we have conducted there since 2008..

Simple measures could be put into place to alleviate one of the problems and that is the pressure on the seagrass bed (home to the seahorses) from anchors and moorings.

This year it is hoped that a few environmentally friendly moorings (EFM’s) are to be trialled in the bay and we hope to replace all moorings on the site with these moorings and to encourage visiting boats to use the EFM’s and not to drop their anchors. This will still allow boating activity but will take the pressure off the seagrass and hopefully will allow the seahorses to recover their numbers, if it is not too late.

The two native seahorses, Spiny and Short Snouted are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act under schedule 5, section 9 and so this should not have happened. Sadly to date Marine Management Organisation (MMO) have not put into place any measures to protect the seahorses, despite them being informed of the problems, time and time again and they are the statutory authority whose job it is to enforce the law.

I have added below a link to the RYA showing where all the proposed tranches are going to be.

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The Beautiful Seahorse Dargon, which can be rented by its makers for functions and to highlight this Year of the (Sea) Horse

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Sea Lifes appeal to the Chinese community about the TCM trade

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One of the studenst holding a dried seahorse so everyone rea;lises what the day was about.

The students were all shouting Happy New Year in Chinese and did an amazing job of highlighting the issues, thank you to them all for their help and enthusiasm.

There is some video on You Tube which can be accessed from our conservation day

5 Year report about the seahorse study in South Beach, Studland Bay, Dorset

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We have now been researching seahorses at South Beach in Studland Bay for years and have made some incredible discoveries and increaseed our knowledge of seahorses around the British Isles. The 5 year report below outlines what we have been doing in Studlnad, its connection with the British Seahorse Survey and our recommendations.

This survey would not have been possible without all of our volunteers and the funding we have received from so many sources, especially the initial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund who started us on our way. Thank you to one and all for your amazing support and we look forward to the next 5 years at this amazing site.

5 Year Report on the Tagging of Seahorses at Studland Bay

The 4th Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group Meeting

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The Seahorse Trust attended the 4th Studland Bay Conservation and Recreational Activity Working Group Meeting on Monday in Poole, Dorset, to discuss the Draft MAIA Seagrass report. [MAIA means Marine Protected Areas in the Atlantic Arc) which was put together by Dr Emma Jackson and Dr Ken Collins. It is a 261 page comprehensive report on seagrass habitats and the effects on them and highlights Studland bay as an example.

On the whole it was a very successful meeting despite the disruptive, rude attitude of a few boat owners and it lays the way forward for Studland to become a Marine Protected Zone and for Environmentally Friendly Moorings (EFM’s) to be trialled in the bay. The report highlighted the problems facing the seagrass, especially at Studland which they showed categorically is fragmenting as the trust has observed and been reporting for years now. We have finally been vindicated in our observations and this report has shown the degradation and fragmentation of the seagrass meadow, especially since 2008.

Next year we should know for sure if Studland is to become a Marine Protected Zone (MPZ); it has all the attributes to make it one, and at that stage the hard work of coordinating a diverse group of stakeholders will come into place, all of whom have varying needs and wants.

Here at the trust we feel it is possible to address everyone’s needs and still allow the bay to be used by many boats with the installation of EFM’s. There is to be a public consultation period about making Studland an MPZ, so please let the authorities know your views when this starts. We will report where and when this happens as soon as we know.

We would like to thank everyone for their amazing support over Studland and this proves that people power can and will make a difference in the protection of our natural world.