A wildlife charity is showing people how to protect the island’s shores and seas in its events this week.
Manx Wildlife Trust has been celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year with its week-long ‘Love Your Beach’ event.
The aim of the week is to raise awareness of the importance of MWT’s marine conservation work and encourage people to enjoy the Isle of Man’s coasts all year round.
Marine officer Lara Howe said: ‘Our coastlines are a huge part of people’s lives in the Isle of Man, but as we are seeing globally, marine wildlife is under threat.
‘Love Your Beach is a great way of increasing public support to protect our shores and seas.
‘This is an opportunity to get people together and show how much we love our beaches and the wildlife they support.’
Running until Sunday, February 19, the week has already seen the charity’s artist in residence Clare Payne hold a live nature paint-along.
The group met on Ramsey beach on Wednesday and used watercolours to paint pictures of the beach during the art session.
Community ranger for MWT Hannah Phillips, who helped organise the events throughout the week, explained the reasoning behind them.
She said: ‘We are raising awareness of the conservation work that we do, marine-wise, but also trying to get people to go out and get on the beach.
‘I know it seems a bit bizarre because it’s February but the beaches and the coastline are a really big part of what makes this island special, they’re just so fantastic!
‘It’s also an excuse to try and get people out and enjoying them. Everyone’s welcome.’
Love Your Beach week is a first for the Manx charity, borrowing the idea from overseas.
‘It was started by Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the idea was introduced to us by one of our marine rangers who works for the Department of the Environment, Food and Agriculture,’ Hannah said.
‘She used to work for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is really knowledgeable about all things marine. She suggested doing it and has been a really great help. We’ve just run with it.
‘One year, Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend so the trust organised a beach clean and I think it’s grown from there.
‘Now they’ve got loads of events running through the week. That’s where the inspiration came from.
‘The only thing we share is the name. The events that we’re running are all our own activities and our own ideas.’
Following on from the paint-along, MWT will be holding a beach clean today (Thursday) at the charity’s adopted beach, Fenella, in Peel.
It will take place from 1pm to 2pm.
The week will end with a beach party on Douglas beach on Saturday, February 18 from 3pm.
Hannah said: ‘The main event is the Love Your Beach party.
‘We’ve got a few different things going on. There’s going to be more beach art but it’s not painting, it’s going to be large-scale art that’s happening on the sand that people can get involved with.
‘There’s also going to be a shark egg hunt.
‘One of our volunteers who is very knowledgeable about this will have some ID information. They will be helping kids and whoever wants to get involved to look for these shark egg cases that wash up on the beach.
‘Then there’s also going to be a sea watch. One of our members of staff will be guiding people on wildlife on the beach and what you might look out for.
‘Beach Buddies will be coming down too, so there will also be a beach clean.
‘Hopefully there will be lots of people there so we can have the activities going on at the same time and people can come and go between.’
She added: ‘At 5.30pm when the sun starts to go down, we’re having a bonfire on the beach and we’ll have some members of staff telling some wildlife themed romantic stories, which people can also get involved in.’
As part of Love your Beach week, the charity will be asking for donations for its marine appeal, which specifically focuses on seal conservation throughout seal pup season.
MWT’s marine appeal aims to raise £50,000 for its conservation work.
‘We’ve obviously got a big target to raise this year for our marine appeal so the donations that come from Love Your Beach will go towards that,’ said the community ranger.
‘We’ll have donation buckets that we might be shaking around but the events themselves are absolutely free.’
Members of the public who are interested in attending can attend for free with no registration required.
More information and a full timetable can be found on the Manx Wildlife Trust’s social media pages and website.