Lancashire lizards play a vital role in marine revival

Sand lizards

The return of the sand lizard to the Fylde Coast is one of the highlights of the Wildlife Trusts UK Marine Review for 2020 published today.
Sand lizards

Sand lizards

The review reports exciting news for the seas and coasts around the country but is warning that there is much work to do. While some sightings suggest healthy marine conditions, others may indicate more worrying environmental problems according to President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, Sir David Attenborough.

On the Fylde Coast, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust has actually been helping to increase diversity by taking part in a sand lizard reintroduction with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Fylde and Blackpool Councils. Nearly 400 lizards have been released in the past three years and they are doing very well.

LWT’s Fylde Sand Dunes Project Officer Jessica Newman said: “England can now boast sand lizard populations from our southern counties all the way up to Fylde Sand Dunes in Lancashire. It may still be our rarest lizard, but this bright green jewel of a creature deserves to be back home in the north.

“This daring dunes project sparks hope for conservation across the country. Their reintroduction goes to show that big conservation ideas work, given enough funding, enthusiasm and expertise on the ground.”

In May, thousands of sea gooseberries were washed up at Blackpool. To see so many was a rare occurrence according to Senior Marine Conservation Officer Emily Baxter. Dr Baxter said: “We often get reports (or find them ourselves when out surveying) of the occasional sea gooseberry but we’ve never seen them washed up or in the water in such great quantities! They most likely ended up on the beach due to strong winds. Everyone’s first question ‘is do they sting?’ The simple answer is no. These delicate, jelly-like creatures are not actually true jellyfish, so they do not have stinging cells.”

While they don’t sting, sea gooseberries are voracious predators, eating up to 10 times their own body-weight a day, including other sea gooseberries.

The Wildlife Trusts’ Director of Living Seas, Joan Edwards  said: “In 2020 people flocked to the sea as soon as lockdown restrictions were lifted – they needed the coast as never before. The wonders that people are reporting have been taken for granted for too long and it’s vital we recognise that the future of life on earth is inseparable from the health of the sea.

“Our oceans are in trouble and the UK will not achieve its climate and environmental targets without restoring marine habitats. That’s why The Wildlife Trusts are appealing for £30m to help put 30 per cent of land and sea into recovery for nature by 2030.”

President Emeritus of The Wildlife Trusts, Sir David Attenborough, said: “The seas around the UK are home to the most extraordinary wildlife. We’re fortunate that our seas are protected by a blue belt of marine protected areas but sadly this does not prevent damaging activities still occurring in these special places. Bottom-towed dredging and trawling destroys fragile sea fans and soft corals on the seabed, while dredging to install cables to offshore wind farms changes the seabed and its wildlife forever.

“For too long we have taken from the sea with little regard for the consequences. We are all aware of the problems presented by plastic litter, but some pollutants and impacts are hidden from view, beneath the surface of the waves. Our Government needs to tackle these problems but we can all do our bit too.”

To find out more about the marine conservation work in and around the Irish Sea or to make a donation go here