Why Is Research Important?

Our oceans occupy nearly three-quarters of the Earth's surface and support a greater diversity of life than any other ecosystem on the planet and could hold the key to battling climate change.  So it is surprising that they are less understood than outer space!

We do know that marine wildlife is under real and acute threat, and some species are on the verge of extinction.  Overfishing, pollution, by-catch, shipping, military activity, climate change and the unsustainable exploitation of once vast natural resources all pose growing threats to our oceans.

The key to safeguarding our marine wildlife is in evidence-based research which is the recognised foundation for conservation measures by policy makers.  Only when we understand the changes that the marine ecosystem is undergoing, and identify practical solutions, will we be able to look after it and the wildlife it contains for the future.

For more information about our scientific publications and to download copies, please visit our publications page.

  MARINElife surveyor conducting researchConducting survey work is vital for our scientific research


Our Work

Our core work since 1995 has been in researching the distribution, abundance and population trends for whales, dolphins, seabirds and other marine wildlife from commercial vessels.  Our monthly, year-round monitoring programme was established using the Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry, Pride of Bilbao, in partnership with the commercial shipping company, P&O Ferries, and is now recognised as one of the world's longest running deep sea scientific whale and dolphin monitoring programmes.  Our survey areas are also of great international importance for seabirds, with the Bay of Biscay in particular supporting perhaps the greatest diversity of species (especially during migration seasons) anywhere in Europe.

We now operate year-round surveys using a repeatable scientific methodology along fixed 'transect' routes through the key areas of ocean in Northern Europe, including The Channel, Bay of Biscay and North Sea.  Our work is driven by dedicated volunteers who operate from ferries, freight ships, cruise liners and smaller recreational boats as a cost-effective means to gather data in areas which are little studied.

Harbour Porpoise in the North Sea (©Mike Bailey/MARINElife)

We have collected a huge dataset of cetacean and seabird population data which continues to be used to determine seasonal, annual and long-term population trends for individual species. This baseline data on the marine ecosystem is necessary in order to be able to detect changes in species' numbers and inform marine resource policy managers such that the most appropriate conservation action can be taken.

We initiated and co-ordinate the ground-breaking Atlantic Research Coalition (ARC); an international collaboration between research groups monitoring cetaceans in European waters. By working together to share data and operate to similar methodologies, we strengthen  its value to policy decision makers.

Click here for more information about our cetacean and seabird monitoring methodology.

We have received European recognition and funding to support in-depth survey work in the Channel. We are running dedicated surveys and working with angling, fishing, diving, surveying and ecotourism vessels to collect sightings data on cetaceans and seabirds, with particular focus on White-Beaked Dolphins and Balearic Shearwaters. The work has lead to numerous collaborations with other organisations in the UK and Continent. 

We work with UK and European Government Agencies, Universities and other scientific research and conservation organisations to generate scientific reports and publications based on the research data we and others collect for supporting marine conservation strategies, all of which are evidence-based.

Click here for MARINElife Discoveries.