TV MARINE biologist Maya Plass has become a patron for the West Dorset-based charity Marinelife.

She has appeared on the BBC programmes Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Coast.

Bridport-based Marinelife conducts research and monitoring projects for whales, dolphins, seabirds and other marine wildlife around the country’s coast. Maya, who is based in Devon, said: “Marinelife and its volunteers have an incredibly important role to play in the protection of our invaluable coast and seas.

“Their work helps to raise awareness of an aspect of our seas that few people appreciate.

“We have a fantastic selection of whales, dolphins and seabirds in our waters and some people might assume you have to travel abroad to see them.

“I am thrilled to become the patron for Marinelife and continue to raise awareness about their fantastic work and our stunning seas.”

Maya is a marine biologist, presenter and author. She founded the Learn to Sea initiative which aims to engage children with the coastline and river systems in the south west.

Her new book, The RSPB Handbook of the Seashore, is to be published in May 2013.

Marinelife is a charity established to fill a knowledge gap by providing scientific data to help underpin conservation efforts for animals living far out at sea. Dr Tom Brereton, Bridport-based research director of Marinelife, said: “We are delighted to receive Maya’s support for our work, her views and support for the marine environment are closely aligned with those of Marinelife.

“We are very excited about how we can work together in the coming months, to ensure that our scientific data is put to maximum use for marine conservation especially in our focal area of Lyme Bay.”

Marinelife is supported in its research by commercial ferry companies operating around the country.

Each month of the year teams of volunteers undertake surveys along 14 ferry routes, counting animals across nearly 5,000km of ocean. The charity also conducts regional research projects from a wider variety of vessels, including on white-beaked dolphins and Balearic Shear-waters in the English Channel centred around Lyme Bay, and encourages the public to get directly involved.