What lies beneath ... Living Seas Centre opens in Flamborough
IN MANY respects, it is a rather unassuming building, tucked away in the coastal village of Flamborough.
But the new Living Seas Centre has become the hub of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's aim to protect East Yorkshire's coastal habitats and raise awareness.
Hidden beneath the often dull and murky waves, from Spurn Point to Flamborough, is an amazing array of life that goes largely unnoticed.
The £200,000 centre, which is officially opened today,
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Living Seas Centre manager Anthony Hurd said: "We are trying to promote the wildlife we have in East Yorkshire and off the North Sea. We also want to raise awareness and gather public support for marine conservation.
"We have made the best use of quite a small space. This building presents an amazing opportunity for us and is the base for the trust's marine staff.
"It is also an interpretation centre for visitors and provides education facilities for schools."
A key element of the new centre is to try to present information on the marine life in a simple and striking way.
Mr Hurd said: "We have gone for a visual way of displaying the information rather than lots of text.
"We also have an interactive, animated floor that represents a rock pool. We also have another programme with fish, birds, a seal and a porpoise.
"Another feature is the bubble booth, which surrounds people in bubbly water while they can use the screen to find out information about our marine heritage.
"In time, we can add more apps and games. We also have a television featuring the wildlife on our coast."
The centre has been up and running for a couple of months but has only opened intermittently until now.
"We have had very positive feedback so far," Mr Hurd said.
"This site was just a burnt-out wreck for a long time. People think it is good something has been done with it.
"We are also close to the beach, so we can take people down there and give people a hands-on approach. We will also run events from here, including boat trips and seashore safaris."
Artist Martin Waters will be on hand this weekend to help decorate the centre.
"Our counter is made from wood found at Spurn," Mr Hurd said.
"We have panels that will contain artworks produced by Mr Waters from plastic found washed up on our coast."
A huge focus for the centre is on education and school visits.
"Education is very important and, after Easter, we hope to have a number of schools visit," Mr Hurd said.
"We have activities we can do at the centre or down on the beach.
"We take the children to explore the marine animals and habitats and teach them how the coast can affect our everyday lives.
"We want them to pose questions and get involved in the issues."
Despite a healthy dose of funding, the trust admits the centre would not exist without volunteers to help run it.
Mr Hurd said: "We have some fantastic volunteers, some of whom who come from as far away as York and Harrogate.
"We are building our volunteer base and none of this could really happen without their help."
The trust is campaigning for more Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) to protect wildlife and habitats.
Seven of the recommended sites are off the Yorkshire Coast but none within Yorkshire waters have been granted so far.
Mr Hurd said: "This centre is important for our work in trying to push through the MCZs.
"This is where we do all our work but also presents a chance to promote the issues.
"Conservation is very important and a key element is our work with the fishing industry."
Mr Hurd hopes the new centre will be a hit with visitors.
"This gives us a chance to show visitors what is below the sea," he said
"We have to come up with inventive ways to show what life is in the North Sea."