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Big Seaweed Search inspires research report

2 minute read

As part of her degree in Marine Conservation, Nicola Vlad, one of our Sea Champions, wrote a report based on our citizen science project, the Big Seaweed Search.

Nicola, who’s originally from Romania, has always been passionate about the ocean and the creatures in it, and it’s this passion that led her to study Marine Conservation at Cornwall College.

She began volunteering with us as part of her university work experience and soon discovered our Big Seaweed Search – something she’s very glad to have found.

Nicola Vlad - Sea Champion

Credit: Nicola Vlad

Although she was originally more interested in corals and marine mammals, Nicola became more interested and familiar with other aspects of the marine environment, like seaweed. Through her volunteering and participation in the Big Seaweed Search, she became more familiar with identifying seaweeds and developed a hunger to learn more about them. This inspired to her base her university research project on seaweed.

I am a huge lover of plants, so mixed with my love of the sea, seaweeds became my new obsession!

Nicola Vlad, Sea Champion

Nicola found that she really enjoyed taking part in Big Seaweed Search surveys - the searching, the finding and uploading, and feeling the importance of the surveys for monitoring and conservation.

"The fact that you could link the seaweeds you see on the rocky shore to how climate change has affected them was so fascinating to me. I just had to find out more and do more of my own research."

Inspired by the Big Seaweed Search and using a similar methodology, Nicola's research focussed on seaweed diversity and richness, adding the aspect of climate change.

Nicola Vlad - Sea Champion - Big Seaweed Search

Credit: Nicola Vlad

Having found a lack of data comparing seaweeds on upper and lower shores, Nicola wanted to develop an easy-to-understand visual representation showing which seaweeds are found on a rocky shore, whereabouts on the shore, and why they were there.

What did the research find?

This data is important for long-term monitoring of seaweeds, by providing a base to see how the seaweed distribution and richness changes due to climate change in her local area. Nicola said she’d love to see additional developments to her study which would investigate any relationship between the nitrogen levels and the number of invertebrates around the seaweed.

I hope my research inspires more people to observe such an underrated world. Seaweeds are such a vital part of the marine ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for marine organisms, and absorb carbon dioxide to help fight climate change.

Nicola Vlad