A joint BU ecology and engineering research project has been set up to increase marine biodiversity along Bournemouth’s coastline, while giving the public the chance to observe our creatures first hand.

BU’s expert researchers will design and create features including artificial rock pools and structures containing holes, pits and crevices, which will provide habitats for marine organisms. These will be attached to existing structures such as wooden and concrete groynes. The creatures occupying them will be recorded and filmed by underwater cameras, providing an incredible insight into their habitat and behaviours.

Researcher Dr Roger Herbert said: “We’ve seen habitat degradation and biodiversity loss along our coastline as a result of pollution, overfishing and our steady reclamation of the seabed through coastal engineering works and port developments. Climate change and sea level rise presents new challenges for the protection of inshore marine life. These new features will help us to understand more clearly what aspects are attractive to marine organisms. We can then introduce sensitive engineering design within new marine developments to mitigate for potential biodiversity loss.  Not only will these features allow creatures to colonise them, but they’ll also allow members of the public to observe and explore their colonisation”.

Sharing is a really important goal of Bio-Beach and researchers will be engaging schools, colleges, local residents and visitors with their work. Activity is already underway with students from Avonbourne School and Harewood College, who have been helping to design the structures. You can read more about this here.

Bio-Beach results will be shared through the new Coastal Activity Park Marine Ecology Centre, where people can enjoy a hands-on experience of the project and its findings. BU students will be on hand to explain the research further.

The Bio-Beach project is in collaboration with Bournemouth Borough Council and is funded through BU Fusion Investment Fund (FiF). FiF supports projects demonstrating the powerful fusion of research, education and professional practice.