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An array of 5 artificial rockpools, or ‘Vertipools’ installed on a harbour wall at Wightlink’s ferry terminal at Fishbourne by Island ecological consultancy Artecology, has been shortlisted for a national environmental award.

Artecology founders Ian Boyd and Nigel George came up with the idea of creating artificial habitat for marine wildlife, the Vertipools, as a way of helping our intertidal environment adapt to sea level rise and coastal squeeze on urban coastlines.

Entirely covered by water at high tide and revealed one by one as the tide falls, the rockpools and the walls alongside have been colonised by over 30 different species from crabs and barnacles to sea squirts and sponges. Marine biologist Dr Alice Hall from Bournemouth University is monitoring them and assessing them for biodiversity.

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Wightlink started work with Artecology, Arc and consulting marine ecologists ABPMer as plans for port improvements were drawn up as part of the ferry company’s £45million investment in its Portsmouth-Fishbourne route. The Vertipools were installed in June 2017.

Keith Greenfield, Wightlink’s Chief Executive has said:

“Protecting the Solent’s marine environment is very important for us at Wightlink. Our Vertipools are already home to a wide range of marine creatures and I am delighted this exciting ecological concept has been recognised by the judges of this national competition.”

Ian Boyd of Artecology adds:

“By the end of 2018 there will be 100 Vertipools installed across marine sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and it is really marvellous that Wightlink, and the Isle of Wight, have been at the forefront of this new movement of positive change for wildlife.”

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Armed with rockpooling nets, 6 children from Gurnard Primary School and 2 teachers saw the Vertipools and their marine life for themselves during a visit to Fishbourne in July. With the help of Artecology, the pupils carried out a proper survey of the pools and identified the species found.

The winners of the CIRIA BIG Biodiversity Challenge will be announced in London on 12th September 2018.

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