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8th June 2024

World Ocean Day – 8th June 2024

We’re celebrating World Ocean Day 2024, a chance to reflect on the beauty and importance of our oceans, whilst understanding the work that needs to be taken to help them heal and remain healthy. Oceans are vital to our planet’s health and our own wellbeing, absorbing about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming. 

The GSA UNESCO Biosphere’s boundary expansion in 2023 means it now includes 12 nautical miles of ocean. From the sea loch of Loch Ryan to the rugged beauty of the Solway coast, these diverse habitats are filled with life, critical to conservation, and perfect for adventures in nature. 

The South Ayrshire Snorkel Trail 

This World Ocean Day marks the launch of the South Ayrshire Snorkel Trail, developed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Biosphere Certification Mark awardee Adventure Centre for Education (ACE). For anyone looking to explore the marine wonders of our region, the South Ayrshire coast is a must-visit. With curious names like dog whelk, lion’s mane jellyfish and sea potato, there are countless fascinating species that make this coastline their home. Here are just a couple of the spots to put on your snorkel set and go exploring… 

Horse Rock: Horse Rock near Girvan is a great beach for a family day out. At low tide there is a sandy causeway out to rocks, made of conglomerates resting on Ballantrae Ophiolite, an ancient geological complex of significant interest to scientific research. At high tide, the sheltered sandy location is great for beginners looking to get into snorkelling. Look out for marine life latched to rocks, from a wide range of crab species, colourful anemones and starfish. It’s an excellent location for both beginners and seasoned snorkelers. 


Maidens West Pier Beach: Maidens is a small village to the north of Turnberry and Girvan. With a picturesque sandy bay leading to the Southern harbour, the area features ancient Devonian lavas that have created an intertidal zone supporting diverse seaweed and rockpool species, making it a fascinating place to explore. This weekend (8th and 9th June) it’s hosting the Maidens Ocean Festival with a wide range of activities for families and ocean enthusiasts, and the launch of the Snorkel Trail will be held here on the 9th June, 11am – 4pm.

The Solway Firth 

The Solway Firth, straddling the border between Scotland and England, is a significant estuary renowned for its rich biodiversity and ecological importance. The coastlines support a wide variety of habitats including saltmarshes, mudflats and sandy shores, crucial to many species, particularly migratory birds. The estuary is also an important breeding ground for fish and marine invertebrates, with salmon and trout amongst others spawning in the tributaries, a significant element in how important this area is to the wider health of our ocean environments. Pictured is Wigtown Bay on the Solway.

Loch Ryan 

Loch Ryan located north of Stranraer, is another important ocean habitat where visitors can enjoy a long walk, beachcombing and wildlife-spotting. This large sea loch hosts a wide range of marine life: oysters, seaweed, starfish, and even the occasional seal spotted basking on the rocks offshore. The shorelines of Wig Bay are ideal for birdwatching, and the GSA Biosphere Partnership has led public events here as part of the annual Wild Goose Festival which takes place every autumn in Dumfries & Galloway. 

The GSA Biosphere Partnership has also produced a Blue Biosphere toolkit for schools to help young learners find out more about our local marine environments, including one of the most important features of Loch Ryan: its extensive beds of seagrass, which provide a vital habitat for many ocean species. Teachers or educators wanting to find out more about this learning resource and our programme of Blue Biosphere workshops can get in touch with our Education team via 

Get Involved This World Ocean Day

World Ocean Day is a time to reflect on the life within our seas and the need to take action now to reduce the threat to the millions of marine species posed by human activity and climate change. Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and play a crucial role in regulating global temperatures, supporting biodiversity, and providing sustenance and income for countless populations around the world. However, they face significant harm including pollution, overfishing, and rising sea temperatures. 

There are a wide range of organisations in the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere that are undertaking marine conservation and sustainable practices that protect our coast. Initiatives such as beach clean-ups (organised by MAC-CAN and other organisations), habitat restoration (through the Solway Firth Partnership), and public education programmes (including our Blue Biosphere resource for schools) are helping preserve the health of our oceans. On this World Ocean Day, consider how you can get involved, and the difference you can make – and don’t forget to get in touch if we can offer any support or advice.


If you have time, why not visit your local coastline this World Ocean Day and take in the natural beauty of our marine environments? If you’d like more information on any of the projects or partners mentioned in this article, or have a marine project we could help you promote, contact us at

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