After the huge success of the North East sea survey, the project will be rolled out nationally, Newcastle University says.

The university’s Big Sea Survey, which was conducted from the Dove Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats, saw volunteers collect over 350,000 records over a three-year period. The project helped track changes in sea temperature and marine animal movements through logging appearances of different species on areas of the North East’s coastline, and was undertaken by hundreds of civilian volunteers.

And now the hugely successful initiative will be rolled out over the entire country. Teams from Hull, Portsmouth and Bangor Universities, as well as the Marine Biological Association of the UK, the Marine Conservation Society, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Natural History Museum, the Earthwatch Institute, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and the North West Coastal Forum will all be involved, but the project will still be led by Newcastle University. The Capturing our Coast project, funded by £1.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will aim to recruit 3,000 volunteers to cover most of the country’s coastline.

Scientists say that the project is vital because it will allow them to collect data about key indicator species, whose movements and concentrations may show how the marine environment is responding to climate change and global warming. Dr Heather Sugden, who is the co-principal investigator based at the Dove Laboratory, said that the project will fill “key knowledge gaps” concerning the marine environment and will allow the researchers at Newcastle and other universities to create a “baseline” from which other changes can be understood.

But it isn’t just about seeing how marine wildlife is coping with climate change. Dr Sugden hopes that the project will help create a system of citizen scientists around the country who can help with investigations. The planned project will also make provisions for those who can’t get out to the coast, with web-based opportunities. Professor Stuart Jenkins, the principal investigator, said that such a network would be “an enormously powerful research tool”.

Training days will be taking place at the Dove Laboratory for prospective volunteers. To get involved, visit capturingourcoast.co.uk