Under the Pier in a Biosphere!

15 August 2019
Claire Hector

Under the Pier is our Isle of Wight end of summer celebration of the curious world and incredible marine life under Ryde Pier.  Each year, on a low, low tide, hundreds of people and dozens of marine species come together, with the help of a raft of experts, for this mad, magic, narrowest and often wettest of outdoor adventures!

Run by a volunteer team of ecologists and community artists from environmental organisations Arc, Artecology and The Common Space, the event is always free for everyone and all you need to join in are nets, buckets and wellies. Checking the pier for anemones, the eel grass for stalked jellyfish and making it all the way to the end to explore the mythical ‘sponge gardens’ have become a key ingredient to summer and the Island’s wildlife calendar.

One of the Under the Pier organisers, Claire Hector from Arc and Artecology explains, ‘We started Under the Pier 6 years ago to help people celebrate the place, character and the remarkable natural world at Ryde Pier. There’s been a huge, global increase in awareness of marine biodiversity since then and Under the Pier is a great reminder that you don’t have to travel far to learn more. At an Island gateway, alongside Ryde’s shops and arcades, there’s this extraordinary example of the UK’s intertidal zone, unique in its long sandflats and in the way the 200+ year old Pier provides toe holds and habitat for such a range of marine wildlife. It’s architecturally fascinating under the Pier too and all proof that we can build in ways that make space for nature. And this is all there for anyone to re-discover for inspiration, learning or wellbeing, time and again.

Under the Pier is a helpful introduction to coastal citizen science, with participants learning to ID species, all of which are expertly recorded by iWatch Wildlife and the IWNHS.  This year, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Secrets of the Solent team will be joining us as well, an excellent opportunity to find out more about how you can become a ‘marine champion’ helping to protect the environment, while Solent Bird Aware team are back too so bring your bird-watching binoculars!’

Ian Boyd, Arc and Artecology lead ecologist (or the one with the biggest net!) explains, ‘Our work is in integrating wildlife, landscape and communities to shape better places. Under the Pier is a simple, happy example of all that, and of the principles that help make the Isle of Wight a fantastic UNESCO Biosphere Reserve… a creative, resourceful coastal community protecting and celebrating its unique environment and biodiversity!’

Under The Pier 2019 is on Friday 30th August 3.30pm to 6pm, come rain or shine, under the west side of Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight. For more info, visit our microsite, www.underthepier.space!


Under The Pier 2019… there’s a whole wild world out there!