Newquay is well known for its great surf, family holidays and lively bar scene… but how many people know that Newquay is also home to one of the UK’s marine biodiversity hotspots? Seven chats to Gabi Gilkes, a marine research scientist who has set up the Newquay Marine Group, to find out more.
“Newquay is one of 137 highlighted zones all around the UK,” explains Gabi, “Which demonstrates that the government recognises the biological and ecological importance of the area in which we live.”
So what is the Newquay Marine Group (NMG) trying to achieve? “We want to know what we have around here and where it is,” says Gabi. Which in a nutshell means everything from the endangered Giant Blenny, to beautiful soft corals and our various “megafauna” like Newquay’s cheeky seal population or visiting sharks, dolphins and sunfish. “We’ll set up survey training and citizen science projects, passing the results back to organisations that can scientifically use the data.”
The group also plans to tackle the beach litter and plastics issue, which is always a good thing, saying: “We’ll be tackling everything from public beach cleans to working with the takeaway outlets to use biodegradable wrapping (no more polystyrene boxes!) And we’ll be working closely with the supermarkets to educate visitors in the summer on how to dispose of their beach barbeques.”
NMG also wants to better promote local crab in the town, so the group are working with chefs and the local fishermen to help promote Newquay crab, making it easier for locals to enjoy. A window sticker campaign for local cafés and restaurants which source their crab locally and sustainably will help visitors choose where they can eat it. The group will also be looking to sign up local businesses up to an environmental charter, so those that have taken measures to help the coastal environment- such as reduce waste and the use of disposable plastics – can be clearly recognised.
Plus, there’s a programme of public events and activities planned from beach art to bench-painting; shore labs to kayak wildlife surveys, that will encourage everyone to get out there to appreciate and celebrate the amazing surroundings we have on our doorstep. Now isn’t that something we can all subscribe to?
Newquay’s grey seals can be seen basking in the sun or hanging out in the harbour most days. A good time to see them is when the fishing boats come in laden with their catch. Or take a pleasure boat trip from the harbour and you’ll see them in groups on the rocks.
You know that Newquay’s famous harbour seals have their own website? It’s www.newquayharbourseals.co.uk so log on and keep up with their antics.
Take a pleasure or fishing boat out of the harbour and chances are you may spot a pod of dolphins on your trip, as they are regular visitors to Newquay Bay. the dolphins have been known to put on a fantastic display to the delight of visitors and locals alike.
Newquay Sea Safaris off ers seal, shark and dolphin watching trips, so go to www.newquayseasafarisandfishing.co.uk for more info.
The Gannel, which runs from the salt marshes near Trevemper Bridge to the sea at Crantock, supports a wealth of wildlife. There’s a huge variety of birdlife sheltering from the harsh northern winters including ringed plover, redshank, whimbrel, grey plover, greenshank, godwits curlew, widgeon and teal. And the tidal estuary is home to the protected European eel, pink sea fan, crayfish and more common sand eels.
You can see the wildlife at the Gannel by foot or even by horseback, as there are daily rides from Trenance Stables along the Gannel Estuary. Go towww.newquayridingstables.co.uk for details.