He’s red, he’s got scales and fins, he lives on a seabed near you, and he’s on a quest to make sure the UK’s marine wildlife gets the protection it needs. Bernard the Gurnard is the new face and voice of The Wildlife Trusts’ ‘Petition Fish’ campaign.
An online animation starring the character Bernard, a red gurnard, has been launched by The Wildlife Trusts.
Bernard is a fish frustrated by waiting for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within the UK’s seas. The animation tells the story of his plight to find a marine utopia in the form of his very own MPA, a refuge for him and the other sea creatures he lives with. The animation contains a strong call to action - to support The Wildlife Trusts’ Petition Fish campaign. The aim of Petition Fish is to demonstrate public support for MPAs by gathering signatures online, by text, and at Wildlife Trust events.
Bernard’s on-screen debut will be accompanied by the launch of his profiles on Twitter and Facebook. He will follow the MPA situation closely and post regular updates, via the social media channels, on what’s happening as Government decides which undersea areas will be protected.
Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We want everyone to celebrate our seas, understand more about the threats facing native marine life, and get involved in protecting it. We hope that Bernard will help us spread the message even further.
"His updates will be fun and engaging but, ultimately, the message is urgent and very serious: we have one year to create a strong network of protected areas for marine wildlife in the UK. Just one year to demonstrate the importance of healthy, well-protected seas. Only with the right protection can they continue to support the demands we place on them for food, resources and climate regulation. We all need to show our support for MPAs through Petition Fish, and we need to do it now."
Bernard is a red gurnard, a bottom-feeding fish which lives in sandy areas around the UK coast, and eats crustaceans and smaller fish. Gurnards have two unusual features: they can walk, using slender ‘fingers’ - actually fin spines – to creep along the seabed, and they can ‘talk’ (they grunt and croak, perhaps to communicate with each other).