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Train to be a nature detective in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 07:41 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 01 July 2010

Whitlingham Country Park
Photo: Mike Page

Whitlingham Country Park Photo: Mike Page

Kim Briscoe

Nature enthusiasts are being invited to train to be a Broads nature detective. Whitlingham Country Park will be holding a special water survey training day.

Nature enthusiasts are being invited to train to be a Broads nature detective.

Whitlingham Country Park will be holding a special water survey training day at 10am on Sunday, May 16, to people how to dip into valuable data which could contribute to national research.

The free event is being organised by the Broads Authority and the University of Hertfordshire. It aims to encourage nature lovers to take part in a national fresh water survey in the name of science.

The OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) Water Survey uses commonly found animals to indicate the health of the habitat. The event on the country park's two broads will teach people how to check whether their local pond or lake is in good condition, which will help scientists protect freshwater wildlife.

Helene Coleman, OPAL community scientist at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “We need to investigate the region's ponds and lakes to find out which ones could be improved and which should be protected. Ponds and lakes are really important habitats but many of them are affected by pollution. The survey is a really fun and exciting project to get involved with, and it gives local people the chance to contribute to a national scientific study.”

The survey can be carried out at any lake and pond in England. Anyone can take part with an identification guide and workbook that can be downloaded free from the OPAL website at www.OPALexplorenature.org.

The website will display uploaded results on an interactive map, along with those of other participants from around the country.

Booking is essential for Sunday's event. To book contact Dan Hoare, Broads Authority, on 01603 756043, before midday on Friday, May 14, as places are limited.

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