We should not take marine life for granted, says nature and wildlife illustrator, Millie Marotta

Colour for Marine Conservation and protect Britain’s underwater wonders.

Bestselling illustrator Millie Marotta has joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society to launch a national month-long colouring campaign for ‘national parks of the sea’.

The nature inspired illustrator from Pembrokeshire whose latest book, Curious Creatures, uncovers the world’s most visually fascinating underwater species, said that we were at risk of taking its diverse marine life for granted.

Millie says: “I live in the UK’s only coastal national park and feel incredibly lucky to have such beautiful beaches and amazing marine wildlife so close by. Here in the UK we have a very rich and diverse array of wildlife both in and around our seas and we must not take that for granted. With so many threats these days to our marine environment and its inhabitants I feel it’s important that we do whatever we can to protect these species and ensure the future health of our seas. The Marine Conservation Society’s campaign to create and manage more Marine Protected Areas in the UK means that more of our seas will have the protection needed for species to recover and thrive. This is a hugely important campaign and one that I wholeheartedly support.”

In addition to signing the Marine Conservation Society’s petition , Millie is urging the public to colour and share her illustration of the hermit crab , a favourite of rock-pool enthusiasts, and commonly found in the shores and depths of the British coast, with the hashtag #helpthehermit Rachel Alcock, Senior Campaigner, Marine Conservation Society, said: “Many of us are often surprised by the incredible animals and plants found in the seas around the UK. Our seas are rich with unique species, shimmering shoals and reefs teeming with life. It is wonderful that Millie has signed our petition and we ask that everyone who enjoys colouring in her beautiful illustrations signs too. We are calling on decision makers across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect these treasures by designating and properly managing Marine Protected Areas” . How to be part of ‘colouring for conservation’ Sign - Support the Marine Conservation Society’s petition for Marine Protected Areas: www.mcsuk.org/colouring Colour “

Millie will also be using Facebook to share important facts about the campaign for Marine Protected Areas.
Which areas of sea should be protected? Why? What lives there? The Mid St George’s Channel covers an area of 761km2 and the zone lies between Wales and the Republic of Ireland. The sand and gravel that is found here supports populations of annelid worms clams and crustaceans. Breeding seabirds whales and dolphins are often seen feeding in the waters above. We need to keep the pressure on to ensure that this area is designated. The colourfully named Mud Hole is an offshore site measuring 7square kilometers. It is around 35m deep and is located 21km off the coast of Cumbria. Within this area there are a variety of features including Sea-pens and the rare to this area Burrowing Megafauna. If designated this site could allow for recovery of this highly sensitive area. Defra have the opportunity to safeguard this area by designating it as a Marine Protected Area. We must ensure they do just that next year. Located on the East Sussex coastline the proposed Marine Conservation Zone Beachy Head East contains a very important chalk reef. This area supports a range of animals including Ross coral. The Mussel beds found here are considered to be one of the best examples of this habitat in the region. Blue mussel beds are known to be important for water quality act as a food source for sea birds and even help with to coastal protection. We must make sure that Defra properly protect Beachy Head East by making it a Marine Protected Area next year. The Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt Marine Protected Area is located to the west of the Shetland Islands on the Scottish side of the Faroe-Shetland Channel. It was designated as a Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area in 2014 which is fantastic. However we now need to make sure that management measures are put in place to ensure that this special area is well looked after.

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