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Group of kayakers on the river

It’s a year since we launched our ‘wildlife aware watersports‘ initiative with its unique interactive map. It’s proved to be one of our most popular pages on our website.

Ranger Richie is continuing to raise awareness of the needs of wildlife among the watersports community and, with their help, he’ll also be extending the map’s resources to cover the entire Solent coastline.

Here’s Richie’s account of the project so far:

Beige line
Stand up paddleboarder

With watersports becoming increasingly popular across the Solent, it is more important than ever to recognise the delicate balance between humans and nature.

The waters where we paddle and surf are essential habitats for wildlife, and disturbances to our coastal birds are often unintentional, stemming from a lack of awareness.

Through our map and Wildlife-aware paddle sport and Wildlife-aware wind sport guides, we aim to foster a greater understanding of the natural world around us and support individuals and communities to make choices that benefit both themselves and the environment.

 

This map, which will eventually cover the whole Solent coast, has become a crucial tool in spreading our message within watersports communities.

Not only does the map mark those sensitive areas that are so important for wildlife, but it is a great tool for watersports enthusiasts.

Bird Aware Solent's new wildlife aware watersports map

It highlights wildlife friendly launch points, parking, facilities, and cafes, as well as suggested routes for paddling. We want the watersport community to enjoy their sport in a wildlife aware way, and so the map has been created with that in mind.

Saltmarsh at Yarmouth

By adjusting our behaviour – keeping an eye out for birds, giving them space when they seem alert, and following signs and requests – we can help our coastal birds not just survive, but thrive.

The Solent is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, with 125,000 birds making it their winter home each year, traveling from as far as Arctic Siberia and Canada. By practicing responsible paddling and surfing, we can ensure that these birds can continue to return to their wintering grounds year after year.

As I continue to build on our Wildlife Aware Watersports interactive map, focusing now on the next stage, developing watersports information further along the north coast of the Solent, I can’t help but feel even more deeply connected to nature.