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DORIS Seabed Mapped

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Tomorrow is World Ocean Day and to coincide with the celebrations, a seabed map of Dorset is now available on Google Earth.

The mapping exercise known as DORIS (Dorset Intergrated Seabed) captures reefs, wrecks and rocky ledges along the Jurassic Coastline from Abbotsbury to Swanage.

DORIS Seabed Study
DORIS Seabed Study

Users can zoom in on any part of the map which also include species lists of various areas.

Uncovering Life beneath the Waves

Peter Tinsley, marine conservation officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said:

“This map marks a huge step for the marine environment.

“Already it has enabled us to find important wildlife hotspots and we want to continue pushing back the boundaries of knowledge about a part of the county that still holds many mysteries.”

The DORIS project has been undertaken by Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Channel Coastal Observatory, with a major biodiversity grant of £300,000 from environmental company Viridor Credits, through the Landfill Communities Fund.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will use the map to update navigation charts, the Channel Coastal Observatory will provide information to coastal engineers, and Dorset Wildlife Trust will use it to identify important and vulnerable seabed habitats.

It will also be used by the Dorset Coast Forum’s C-SCOPE project, to create a marine plan for Dorset.

How you can help contine the DORIS Survey

DORIS began with an acoustic survey, plotting the exact contours of the seabed. Later stages involved hundreds of dives and thousands of photographs to find out more about different habitats.

Peter added:

“Recreational divers can now choose an interesting or unexplored spot from the map, take the GPS co-ordinates and head straight to it.

“We are particularly keen for volunteer divers to help us to continue the surveying, so that we can fill in more habitat information.”

Lisa Nelson, general manager of Viridor Credits, said:

“We are delighted to have been able to support such an interesting and unusual biodiversity project.

“There is still so much to learn about the seabed and the marine environment.

“I know the DORIS map will make a huge difference to everyone from scientists to leisure divers and be quite fascinating for older children.”

Portland DORIS map
Portland DORIS map

Following the success of the project, there is now an opportunity to continue the work over the next 2 years, to extend the map to the western tip of the Isle of Wight in the east, and to cover the whole of Lyme Bay in the west, giving full coverage of the Dorset coast.

You can see the DORIS map with linked photos appearing as you zoom in, on Google Earth [which can be downloaded to your computer free of charge].

Divers who are interested in helping to record Dorset’s underwater wildlife can contact Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.

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