Under The Pier 2019 update… Sunshine & Sea Scorpions

10 September 2019
Claire Hector

The Isle of Wight’s end of summer bring-your-own-bucket celebration of people, place and nature, Under The Pier was a packed and happy, species-rich spectacle last week. Our free event uncovers the coastal wildlife under busy Ryde Pier, this year bringing around 600 visitors on board with dozens of species discovered.  Friends and anemones made and found while trains, hovers, fastcats and cars buzzed past above and beyond!

In the run-up, it was great to see the event trailed in The Guardian’s Travel Section this year as one of Britain’s best citizen science days out (thanks Visit Wight)!

Claire Hector, from Arc and Artecology, explains, ‘The pier’s 200+ year old architecture, and the sandflats we explore to the west of it, are home to an enormous array of fascinating marine life. With so many eyes exploring, we had some astonishing finds, all identified with the help of our ecologists and volunteers. Favourite discoveries include the striking Sea Scorpions (a first for Under The Pier), tiny juvenile cuttlefish and arrays of anemones. This is the 6th year we’ve held Under The Pier and people come back year after year but for all of us 2019 was extra-special as we could also celebrate being part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.’

Ian Boyd who leads the day explains, ‘Our everyday work is in integrating wildlife, landscape and communities to make places healthier and more interesting for people and for nature across the UK. We have a place standard called Shaping Better Places and this is what Biosphere is all about too. We also develop designs that make space for biodiversity in the built environment. Right here on our doorstep though at Ryde Pier is a great example of how wildlife can make the most of infrastructure, given the chance. Under the Pier is a fun way to introduce people to all of this and it’s lovely to help everyone see a familiar place in a new light.  Hopefully these events are also bringing biodiversity to the attention of local businesses and corporations; while our business is wildlife-related, anyone can put measures for biodiversity, everyday wildlife, at the heart of their business in a whole host of ways.’

Thanks also to the volunteer support from experts at iWatchWildlife and the Isle of Wight Natural History Society, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Secrets of the Solent, Bournemouth University’s MARINEFF project and Bird Aware Solent too all of whom help make this an extremely effective citizen science project! Tina Whitmore at iWatchWildlife is still working on the scores but reports we’re up to 75 species already which will contribute to local wildlife data. Thanks to Wightlink too.’

More good news is that you don’t have to wait ‘til Under The Pier 2020 to head out under the Pier or to explore and celebrate our fantastic UNESCO Biosphere Reserve… any autumn low tide is good for Ryde Pier and every day can be an opportunity to celebrate the unique mix of people, place and nature on the Isle of Wight!

For more information and lots of pictures from this year’s Under The Pier and to keep an eye out for next year’s date, visit our special microsite www.underthepier.space and our Facebook page!