WIGHTLINK'S Vertipools project — five artificial rockpools installed on a harbour wall at their Fishbourne terminal — has been shortlisted for a national environmental award.

The winners of the CIRIA BIG Biodiversity Challenge will be announced in London on September 12.

Artecology founders, Ian Boyd and Nigel George, came up with the idea of creating artificial habitat for marine wildlife as a way to help our intertidal environment adapt to sea level rise and coastal squeeze on urban coastlines.

Entirely covered by water at high tide and then revealed one by one as the tide falls, the rockpools have now been colonised by more than 30 different species from crabs and barnacles to sea squirts and sponges.

Marine biologist, Dr Alive Hall, is monitoring them and assessing them for biodiversity.

Wightlink's chief executive, Keith Greenfield, said: "Protecting the Solent’s marine environment is very important for us at Wightlink.

"Our Vertipools are already home to a wide range of marine creatures and I am delighted this exciting ecological concept has been recognised by the judges of this national competition."

Ian Boyd of Artecology added: "By the end of 2018 there will be 100 Vertipools installed across marine sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and it is really marvellous that Wightlink, and the Isle of Wight, have been at the forefront of this new movement of positive change for wildlife."

Armed with rockpooling nets, six children from Gurnard Primary School saw the Vertipools and their marine life for themselves during a visit to Fishbourne and with the help of Artecology, the pupils carried out a proper survey of the pools and identified the species found.

Teacher Charlotte Rand, science lead at Gurnard Primary, said: "The pupils had a great time and were very excited to take to the water and discover more about the creatures that can be found in our marine environment and the Island-born innovations that are helping to support them."

The Vertipools will also feature on European television following a filmshoot in August.