Privacy Notice

Big Seaweed Search is a community science partnership between the Natural History Museum and the Marine Conservation Society, to support scientific research on the impacts of sea temperature rise, non-native species and ocean acidification on seaweeds around the UK. Anyone can take part, recording the distribution and abundance of seaweeds affected by these environmental changes.


Who collects your personal data                                                              

The data controller is the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.


What data will be collected, how it will be used and who it will be shared with

As part of your agreement to take part in Big Seaweed Search, we will collect your:

  • Name
  • Email address (Optional)
  • Your views and opinions on the project (Optional).

Your seaweed observations, photos and the additional information that you upload will form a ‘biological record’. A biological record must contain four essential pieces of information: which species was seen, where it was seen, when it was seen and the name of the person who saw it. This is why we ask you for your name; it is an essential part of the biological record and ensures that your seaweed data can contribute to our shared understanding of marine life and be shared with local, national and international biodiversity databases.

All data submitted to Big Seaweed Search are stored in the Biological Records Centre's Data Warehouse in accordance with Data Protection Regulations. From there they will be made available to the Natural History Museum and Marine Conservation Society, and will be passed on to the National Biodiversity Network Atlas – the UK’s largest repository of publicly available biodiversity data. The Big Seaweed Search dataset may also be made available via the Natural History Museum's Data Portal where we share all our collections and research data.

Your name will be stored as part of the biological record and may be made publicly available along with the species name, date and location of the record. Should you provide your email address, this will be shared with the Biological Records Centre but would not be made publicly available.


The legal basis for processing your personal data

The reason we ask for your name is that this is a necessary part of a biological record, and it is therefore important to note that it will be made publicly available via the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway along with the species name, date and location of the record. The NHM and the MCS believe that the collection of names is necessary for us to perform a task in the legitimate interests of our organisations and the wider scientific community as regards scientific research.

Providing your email address is required if you want to Register an account, which will enable you to log back in and view your previous data entries and may be used by the NHM and MCS to ask you specific queries about your data if clarification is required. This is considered to be in your legitimate interests as it makes subsequent data entry more convenient, and in the legitimate interest of the Museum in the event we need to ask a specific question about the data you have entered. However, this is entirely optional, and you can choose to enter data without creating an account, with or without providing your email address.

If you choose to opt into marketing communications, your email address will be used by the Natural History Museum and the Marine Conservation Society to send you relevant communications by email, as described in the opt in consent statements. If you choose to provide your email address, you do so based on consent and can withdraw this at any time by emailing and we will delete your email address.


How long the Natural History Museum holds personal data

Your name will be retained permanently as part of the entry at the Biological Records Centre, and your email address (should you choose to share it) will be held by the NHM and MCS for 5 years.

Where we have your consent to send you marketing material by email, but are not aware of any interaction with the Museum (i.e. at least opening one of our emails and clicking on a link in it) for more than three years, we will contact you to ask if you wish to renew your consent. If you do not, we will remove your details from our marketing mailing lists.


What happens if you do not provide the personal data requested

If you do not provide your name you will not be able to contribute to the Big Seaweed Search. Providing your email address is optional – you will still be able to contribute to the Big Seaweed Search if you do not provide it.


Use of automated decision-making or profiling

The information you provide is not used for:

  • automated decision making (making a decision by automated means without any human involvement)
  • profiling (automated processing of personal data to evaluate certain things about an individual)


Transfer of data outside the UK

Your data will be stored in a UK storage location. In the unlikely event that data needs to be stored elsewhere, the Natural History Museum will only transfer your data to another country that is deemed adequate for data protection purposes.


Your rights

If you have any questions about how the Natural History Museum uses your personal data and your associated rights, please contact the Natural History Museum’s Data Protection Officer at or:

Data Protection Officer, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD. The Data Protection Officer is responsible for checking that the Museum complies with legislation and can be contacted via the email and postal addresses above.



You have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office at any time.