Children, families and nature enthusiasts can take advantage of illustrated leaflets and spotter sheets to help them learn all about the Isle of Man’s unique marine habitats and coastal wildlife.
They have been created by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) and Manx Wildlife Trust, and funded by Manx Utilities, and are available from this week to coincide with Schools’ Biosphere Week, when young people explore and celebrate the Biosphere and connect with nature.
The pocket-sized leaflets and spotter sheets, which are also downloadable, are available for each of the ten Marine Nature Reserves (MNRs) and include information about both the rare and common species they protect and how people can enjoy the sites safely.
In total, the 10 MNRs cover more than half of the Island’s inshore marine area and are crucial in the conservation of animals, underwater plants and seaweeds, and are used to collect data for important research. They also help protect the important commercial fisheries around the Island.
Among the marine habitats and species they aim to conserve are carbon-storing eel grass meadows, nesting bird sites for species such as kittiwake, basking shark feeding and breeding grounds, as well as supporting sustainable scallop fisheries.
The free guides also highlight other family-friendly coastal activities, such as walks, trails and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), which are free to enjoy and a great way to explore.
Dr Michelle Haywood MHK, Member for the Environment, said: ‘I am delighted to team up with Manx Wildlife Trust and Manx Utilities and produce these great Marine Nature Reserve guides and spotter sheets, which will be a fun resource for people to use when they get outside to connect with nature.’
The new guides and activity sheets can be downloaded on to any smart phone or digital device, or collected from places including DEFA Headquarters in St John’s, Manx Wildlife Trust office in Peel and the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal.
Main image: Leigh Morris