“Over the course of this year the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT) has taken a journey and engaged in several exciting success stories.”

“We have delivered on our charitable purpose through our behaviour change and habitat restoration work,  with a wide audience understanding who we are and what we do.  

We are particularly pleased with our work on Ocean Literacy with Defra and the development of our Seagrass restoration projects. The award of the £250k Green Recovery Challenge Fund has been a notable success.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in 2020. We look forward to seeing and engaging with you in 2021.”

Roger Maslin, Ocean Conservation Trust CEO

January: Partnered with Drake’s Island for Ocean Education & Experiences

From our base at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, we partnered with Drake’s Island Owner and businessman, Morgan Phillips, to support Ocean experiences and studies from the island. We will be looking out for seahorses, seagrass and the seal population in the waters surrounding Drake’s Island during trips in 2021.

February: Launched Virtual Reality ‘Ocean for All’ Programme

In 2020, we began offering virtual reality to residents in care homes, hospitals and sheltered accommodation across the country. The participants have benefited from this project by exploring the Ocean from the comfort of their chair. We hope to restart and expand this programme in 2021 when it is safe to do so.

May: Launched our Online Learning portal and Aquarium relaxation videos

During lockdown we launched an Ocean Literacy teacher’s education pack, Ocean education videos and colouring sheets. We also launched Ocean relax videos and live relaxation opportunities for those that cannot directly access the Ocean but find it therapeutic and relaxing. The relaxation packages stem from a study conducted at the National Marine Aquarium, found that viewing aquarium exhibits led to a noticeable reduction in both heart rate and blood pressure.

June: Held Online World Ocean Day for Schools with We Are Ocean

As a collective, we created the first ever World Ocean Day for Schools website, full of resources and ideas for how to celebrate this important day at school.  We also offered a host of virtual experiences such as live rockpool rambles, a plastic pollution workshop, shark and turtle Facebook live feeding, crafts and a dive show.

June: Opened Seagrass Cultivation Lab on World Ocean Day

On World Oceans Day, 8th June, we unveiled our new seagrass lab. The lab is where we have grown seagrass seedlings from seed that will be transplanted to the Plymouth Sound National Marine Reserve in 2021. This project is LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES funded and as well as restoring huge areas of lost habitat, the project aims to protect vital seagrass meadows located in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) around the UK’s coasts by providing advanced mooring systems, voluntary boating codes and targeted training.

August: We Collected 70,000 Seagrass Seeds

In August, our marine team dived in the Plymouth Sound to collect seagrass seeds over four days. These seeds will be used to restore eight hectares of lost seagrass beds.

August: Planted Lab Seeds in Habitat Restoration Project

All the precious seeds were transported back to our Seagrass Lab at the National Marine Aquarium and are now being grown into seedlings. Conditions are carefully controlled to mimic their natural environment.

September: Digital Education Programme Launched

OCT launched a downloadable workshop to increase Ocean literacy and the full series offered curriculum criteria for science, mathematics, citizenship, and English, and at the same time many aspects of the national sustainable development goals that are vitally important to promote in education.

September: Joined Conservation Optimism Network

Our Head of Conservation Education and Communications, Nicola Bridge, spoke at the inaugural launch event representing EMSEA. Our part in the project is to work with EMSEA on the Blue Schools initiative; encouraging students and educators to get involved in learning more about the Ocean and becoming advocates for it through education and Ocean optimism. Our Education team provides learning experiences and programmes tailored to all key stage groups, including outreach projects, virtual workshops, lesson plans and resources, plus much more.

September: MSc Marine Conservation National Marine Park Paper Supervised

Our relationship with Plymouth University led to the OCT Being asked to put forward a question for a student dissertation. This led to Jack Renwick working on a study looking at ‘Creating Connections within a National Marine Park’. The study found that activities which were enjoyable and directly educational were the most effective at connecting people with Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. These findings back up our conservation pathway.

October: Guest Lecturers at Plymouth University

Two of our team, Helen Gowans and Nicola Bridge, took part in an annual lecture given to Marine Conservation Masters Workshop for students on Ocean Literacy and engaging the public to engage with conservation.

October: Completed One Year of Scallop Research

Our work with Plymouth Marine Laboratory conducted research into breeding juvenile King Scallops. The project hoped to create a sustainable, diver collection-based fishery in Plymouth, Devon by breeding King Scallops on a commercial basis and releasing them into a fishery.

October: UN Ocean Decade Participants

We are excited to be taking part in UN Ocean Decade Activities in 2021 and are happily planning all of the Ocean based events that will feed into this.

December: Secrets of the Seabed Webinar Series

We launched our first webinar in the Seagrass Series we will are running throughout the next 12 months. The webinars allow us to bring together the marine conservation community to share thoughts on seagrass restoration.

Photo credit: Georgie Bull

December: Ocean Literacy Working Group went Public

We formed an Ocean Literacy Working Group with grateful support from Defra (Department For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). The group brings together experts from across the UK to understand how Ocean Literacy could be used to support Ocean Climate policy in the future.

December: Green Challenge Recovery Fund

We were successful in winning a £250,000 grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. This funding will allow us to roll out and manage a seagrass beds restoration programme. We are proud to be the only blue carbon winner in this round of funding.

Photo credit: Georgie Bull

Thank you to everyone who supported us in 2020. This year wasn’t easy for anyone, so I am sure you will join us in looking ahead to 2021.