Seasearch data is made available in three ways:
1. Survey reports - either in summary form or full reports. All of the Summary Reports and most of the Full Reports can be downloaded from this site
2. On the National Biodiversity Network website
3. In Marine Recorder format
To view and download an illustrated summary of our activities click one of the following links.
Seasearch produces Survey Reports for individual surveys and area summaries. The majority can be downloaded below in PDF format. Some of the earlier Seasearch and MCS surveys are only available in paper format on request (or CD where shown). A charge will be made for supplying any of these reports to cover their preparation and copying. We are gradually making PDFs from all of the older surveys.
Many of the reports are summary reports which include a summary of the surveys undertaken and of the findings and include maps/charts and a summary list of species recorded. Others are more detailed with full descriptions of individual sites and a comprehensive species list. The data in the reports is also on the National Biodiversity Network website.
The 250+ reports currently available are listed below (arranged from north to south by country and date) Just click on the report name to access the PDF. For CDs or paper copies contact NationalCoordinator.
NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY NETWORK
All of the Seasearch species data, and data from earlier Marine Conservation Society surveys, are available to use and download from the National Biodiversity Network website. Data can be searched for by species or by grid square and you can choose to see just the Seasearch data or data from all of the providers.
All of the Seasearch species data up to and including 2015 are now available on the website.
The main Seasearch Marine Surveys datasets contain 553,355 species records. The map shows the density of records with the darker colours containing more records.
In addition there are two smaller datasets. One contains additional records of pink sea fans, Eunicella verrucosa, and associated species. The other contains additional crawfish/spiny lobster, Palinurus elephas, records.
In addition to species data habitat and biotope data are available in Marine Recorder Snapshot format on request.
All of the data from Seasearch surveys is entered into Marine Recorder, the database used by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and all of the government conservation agencies and most local record centres. This data is available on request to any Marine Recorder user though a charge may be made for its provision. The data can be for a single survey or a group of surveys and summary information can also be provided in database or spreadsheet format in a number of Marine Recorder pre-determined 'snapshot' tables.
The data is supplied on Seasearch survey forms. The graph shows the great increase in recording effort since 2000 with a peak in 2010. It also shows a regular increase in the more detailed Survey Forms which exceeded the number of Observation Forms for the first time in 2014.
Seasearch data for 2015
You can view a summary of the Seasearch data for 2007-2014 in Google Earth.
If you have Google Earth installed on your computer clicking on the links below will open Google Earth and show locations for all of the Seasearch forms received in 2007-2013. Click on a point and you will see the date, type of form, the recorder and any comments on special features of the dive.
If you don't already have Google Earth on your computer you can download it free from Google.
Data for Marine Conservation Zones 2012 and 2014
Seasearch data has been used to assist the process of establishing Marine Conservation Zones in England, Wales and Scotland. In England the three MCZ projects covering East and North East England (Net Gain), South and South East England (Balanced Seas) and South West England (Finding Sanctuary) had access to all of our data in making recommendations. When the proposed 127 MCZs were published in early 2012 Seasearch made collecting additional data in these areas the main focus of our activity.
Surveys were carried out in a number of the proposed MCZs and the data was combined and submitted to Defra as a part of the consulation process in winter2012/spring 2013. We also produced a series of 13 illustrated reports of the surveys, all of which can be donwloaded here. The reports covered the following rMCZs.
Surveys have continued and a further set of rMCZ data was submitted to Natural England in early 2015 to complement the second tranche consultation. These were accompanied by another 17 reports from designated and second tranche sites.
Surveys of Priority Species
Sea Fan Anemones - Amphianthus dohrnii in south Devon and Cornwall
A Seasearch report has been published on a six-year photographic monitoring project carried out on the wreck of the Rosehill in Whitsand Bay, Cornwall by Sally Sharrock of Devon Seasearch. The sea fan anemone Amphianthus dohrnii is a BAP species because of its rarity and lives almost exclusively on our two species of sea fan. The report compares pictures of the same sea fan between June 2006 and May 2012 showing how the anemones have affected the fan and caused necrosis leading to fouling and finally breaking off of sections of the colony. The report also looks at the Seasearch records of Amphianthus in South Devon and East Cornwall and concludes that they are ephemeral at most sites, though the cause of the fluctuating population is unknown.
The report can be downloaded here: Rosehill Sea Fan Anemone Report
The final picture of the damaged sea fan taken in May 2012
Marine Conservation Zones work - the Lyme Bay experience
A Seasearch team dived four sites in Lyme Bay in mid September 2010. Two years after the ban on bottom trawling in most of the Bay, the results are plain to see. Two of the sites visited were sites which had escaped the main brunt of the trawling because they had areas of upstanding reef. Here there was the typical range of fauna for the area seen at its best. Forests of sea fans, all in good condition, tall branching sponges and two Lyme Bay signature species, huge Phallusia sea-squirts and trumpet anemones.
The other two sites were known to have been badly damaged by scallop trawling three years ago. One was an area of low lying cobbles, the other small flat ledges. Here what was noiticeable was the number of small sessile animals, branching sponges, young sea fans and potato crisp bryozoans. These offer evidence that, once the pressure is taken off, the sea bed is capable of recovery and offer huge hope for all those areas that are eventually identified as marine conservation zones in the process currently taking place.
The pictures show Phallusia sea squirt, sponges and trumpet anemones (left) and a baby sea fan on one of the previously damaged sites (right). Photos Chris Wood
Carpet Mussels in North Wales
In North Wales Seasearch was kickstarted on the first day of survey in 2010 with the confirmation of carpet mussel beds, Musculus discors, the new Welsh Biodiversity Action Plan habitat, at old and new sites off North Anglesey. In September we undertook focussed surveys to find Musculus discors off the North Llyn Peninsula, and found it there too at two out of four sites surveyed. A 10cm sample was taken at one point in the bed and contained 632 individuals, which equates to 63,200 per m2. They provide a brilliant food source for feeding fish, starfish and crabs.
pictures Liz Morris
Spoon Worms in the Isle of Wight
Mud with burrowing megafauna (including spoon worms) is a feature for which MCZ’s can be designated. Spoon worms (Maxmuellaria sp.) are an under recorded species and in south-east England have only previously been recorded in the Solent and Kent, though they are regularly recording in Scottish sea lochs. One of the most significant Seasearch surveys in Hampshire in 2010 confirmed that a previously noted population of spoon worms is still alive and well at St. Helens Roads, East Isle of Wight. During the dive several burrows and feeding tentacles were observed. The distinctive looking angular crab (Goneplax rhomboides) was also recorded. These two species are often seen together as they are both burrowing megafauna favouring soft fine mud habitats.
photo: Jolyon Chesworth
Chalk in the East
East's project for 2010 was to start mapping the extent of Norfolk's chalk
reefs. It was thought that the chalk stretched for around 8km but the summer’s
dives discovered that these reefs run for over 30km. We've covered 75% of
this distance diving from the shore and the mighty Seasearch East boat 'Mr
Squashy' which has sidescan sonar to help locate seabed features.
The chalk discovery made the national press (Times, Telegraph and Mail) being variously described as "The Great Barrier Reef.....of Norfolk" (Daily Mail) and the "White Cliffs of Norfolk " (Metro). A full report of this survey can be downloaded from the list above.
North Rona and Sula Sgeir
This was the most ambitious dive of 2010, visiting these two isolated and uninhabited islands some 45 nautical miles north-west of Cape Wrath. There were no previous Seasearch records whatsoever and we managed to spend 4 days surveying 10 sites around the two islands. Even more isolated than St Kilda, Sula Sgeir also hosts a huge gannet colony and whilst waiting in the water for the boat, the sky above was thick with gannets (right). In such an exposed location there were few surprises in terms of the marine life with prolific walls of anemones, including Phellia gausapata, the warted corklet which is only found in extremely exposed locations (photo below). In the shallows dabberlocks, Alaria esculenta, another exposed sites speciality, was abundant. It was noticeable that populations of crabs and lobsters remain high here, due to the very low incidence of potting.
Photos Chris Wood.
Weekends in July and August 2010 targeted sites around Caldey Island and Lydstep. Extensive mussel beds were recorded and a wide diversity and high numbers of crustaceans. Grey triggerfish were recorded at two of the sites. Two additional spot dives were made to ground truth sites identified by drop down video as potential native oyster grounds. The divers confirmed the presence of old oyster shells but there was no evidence of live ones.
A successful weekend in June 2010 visited four sites in North Devon at Coombe Martin, Baggy Stone and Morte Point. We have been trying to get data from North Devon for some years but, apart from Lundy, the weather has always foiled us. Records included dense hydroid turf, mussel beds and two Biodiversity Action Plan species, anglerfish (monkfish) and crawfish. There was a second successful weekend in September making this the best year ever for records from North Devon.
Lismore and Loch Linnhe
Last surveyed in 1989, new sites were recorded on Lismore’s west coast in 2010, off the southwest tip, off eastern Eilean Dubh, off east Eilean Balnagowan, on north Bernara and around the small islands at Lismore’s northern tip. Highlights included celtic featherstars (Leptometra celtica) at Tom na Faire, northern sea fans at Bernara and flameshells in Appin narrows. Flame shells (photo right) are very delicate and so were handled at a minimum and with great care.
Photo: Calum Duncan
In 2006 and 2007 divers reported a huge surge in populations of the Snake pipefish Enterurus aqueroeus, espcially along the North Sea coasts of England and Scotland. These fish had always been recorded in very small numbers but they had been much less common than the Greater pipefish, Syngnathus acus. Seaseach contributed to these records with a dedicated survey methodology and targetted dives. However since 2007 numbers have returned to the former very low levels. The Greater pipefish did not show the same population fluctuations and numbers remainded at 'normal' levels throughout the period. Today (2013) the greater pipefish is still the pipefish most often recored by divers.
The Seasearch Biotope Key
During 2007 Seasearch undertook an exercise to attach JNCC biotope codes to Seasearch SurveyData. This demonstrated the difficulties of using the biotope codes as they currently stand. A document was produced and tested to assist in the allocation of Biotopes and can be downloaded below. In addition this work led to the revision of the Seasearch Survey Form and Guidance and a radical change in the Seasearch Surveyor Course in spring 2008.
This work was carried out under contract to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and a copy of the report can be downloaded.
We have continued to work on biotope allocation and for the 2008 data have trialled a simplified approach which we have called the Seasearch Rough Guide to Biotopes. This has enabled us to biotope code 80% of the 2008 Survey Form records.
No Take zone for Lamlash Bay, Arran
In September 2008 the Scottish Government created Scotland’s first ‘No-Take Zone’ in Lamlash Bay on the Isle of Arran. All fishing within the specified area is banned while a scientific trial will be carried out to investigate the fishery and bio-diversity benefits of leaving the seabed to regenerate naturally without any disturbance.
Seasearch evidence gathered by COAST divers helped provide the underpinning evidence for the proposals for Lamlash Bay.
Mobile Gear Ban in Lyme Bay
Seasearch data on the damage caused to pink sea fans by scallop dredging in Lyme Bay has contributed to the evidence on which a decision was taken in August 2008 to ban mobile fishing gear in 10% of the bay, including all of the rocky reef areas. Seasearch has taken part in the monitoring following the ban.
North Wales Special Areas of Conservation
In North Wales Seasearch data was used by the Countryside Council for Wales to help identify reef areas for inclusion in Special Areas of Conservation. The map below includes Seasearch data from a range of sites over a period of time.
Sussex Areas of Marine Conservation Importance
Seasearch information has been used to identify Marine Sites of Nature Conservation Importance in Sussex - designated by the County and City Councils and supported by local marine user groups. The location of the first 12 sites, designated in 1996, is shown in the map below. A second tranche of sites is to be designated as a result of further Seasearch studies.
Arran pipeline diverted
Arran COAST group have used Seasearch to gather information about habitats
and species in Lamlash Bay, Arran. COAST divers completed 42 forms in
2004 from a variety of sites where they discovered a 4km long eelgrass
bed – a biodiversity action plan habitat
photos by Howard Wood
Seasearch records and surveys have led to the identification of a number of species new to Britain and Ireland or the areas in which they were found:
A colony of mantis shrimps, rarely seen by divers, was discovered in North Wales on a Seasearch dive. This has led to inclusion in a Special Area of Conservation and more detailed studies of the area.
The rare deep water brittlestar Asteronyx loveni, previously known only from sites more than 100m deep, was discovered on a Seasearch dive in Loch Torridon.
Jewel anemones, Corynactis viridis, were recorded from the Farne Islands, Northumberland, in 2005 - the first record for the North Sea. In 2007 a crawfish, Palinurus elephas, was found in the same area and another at St Abbs in 2008. These are new records for this part of the North Sea.
The red or Portuguese blenny, Parablennius ruber, has been recently recognised from a number of sites on the west coasts of Scotland, Ireland and in the Isles of Scilly. many of the records come from Seasearch dives. It is a new addition to the UK and Ireland marine fauna. In 2007 a related species, the striped blenny, Parablennius rouxi, was seen and photographed in south Devon. This is normally a Mediterranean species. The black faced blenny, Tritperygion deleasi, first recorded in England in Dorset in the 1970s is now regularly found in south Devon and there are also Seasearch records from south Cornwall.
Red blenny (left) photo Chris Wood: Striped blenny (right) photo Dawn Watson
Two new nudibranchs (sea slugs) for UK waters have been discovered on Seasearch dives in the south-west. Both are known from Portugal but these are the first records for Britain and Ireland. Discodoris rosi was found in the isles of Scilly during a Seasearch survey in 2008, whilst Trapania tartanella was found at The Manacles (Cornwall) in 2007.
Discodoris rosi (left) photographed by John Ives& Trapania tartanella (right) photographed by David Kipling
The anemone prawn, Periclimenes sagitiffer, occurs commonly in the tentacles of snakelocks anemones in the Channel Islands and to the south. This is the first record of one on the northern side of the English Channel, from Swanage in 2007. There is a report of a subsequent survey in 2008 amongst the summary survey reports above.
photo Matt Doggett
Biodiversity Action Plan species and habitats
Seasearch has specifically targeted research on two species on the government's Biodiversity Action Plan lists, the Pink sea fan, Eunicella verrucosa, and the Sea fan anemone, Amphianthus dohrnii, which lives on it. The work has expanded the known range for sea fans, both to the north in Pembrokeshire and to the east in Dorset. It has also identified where the densest populations are and where the sea fans are and are not in good condition. The Sea fan anemone has been shown to be very rare indeed only being found at a small number of sites between Lands End and Plymouth, with the largest concentration in The Manacles.
Local sea fan surveys have also taken place in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset and a number of reports have been produced all of which can be downloaded from the list of reports above.
On the Rosehill wreck in Whitsand bay we have recorded the numbers and location of sea fan anemones on specific sea fan colonies and a report of this survey was produced in 2013.
The fan mussel, Atrina fragilis, the UK's largest mollusc, has also been the subject of dedicated MCS/Seasearch surveys in Devon, South Wales and the west of Scotland. A colony was discovered and recorded in 2004 in Plymouth Sound.
The pictures below show a living fanshell, with sea squirts and a brittle star on the exposed part of the shell (Photo: Sally Sharrock). To the right is the dead shell showing its damaged top to the left.
Unfortunately the population has not been re-recorded in recent years.
Elsewhere single living shells have been recorded from Skye and Rathlin Island, and 4 living shells have been found intertidally in Salcombe. The most recent sighting of a single individual was in 2011 in Scapa Flow, Orkney, where it was still present in 2012..
The sunset cup-coral, Leptopsammia pruvoti, is known in Britain and Ireland only from Lundy, the Isles of Scilly, Plymouth, Lyme Bay and Sark. All of the known sites are regularly visited by Seasearch surveys to monitor the condition of the populations. Specific studies have taken place on Lundy and the Plymouth Drop Off where we have plotted the extent of the sunset coral populations. A report of this work was produced in 2009. New sites for sunset corals have also been discovered in the Isles of Scilly in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
sunset corals at Lundy
The fireworks anemone, Pachycerianthus multiplicatus, is a recent addition to the BAP species lists. Seasearch surveys have been taking place at Loch Shira and Loch Fyne to assess the current status of the populations. Reports are available to download above.
Eelgrass beds, Zostera marina, occur in shallow waters and are easily damaged by physical impact from developments and moorings. Seasearch has surveyed the extent and condition of eelgrass beds in Northern Ireland, North and West Wales, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, Plymouth, the Isle of Wight and Alderney, Channel Islands. The surveys are an important contribution to the monitoring of this fragile habitat.
Eeelgrass bed in Alderney, Channel Islands: photo Chris Wood
Seasearch Identification Guides
In order to improve the quality of records received Seasearch produces a series of illustrated identification guides. These range from an introductory guide to a range of species to more specialsised guides for different groups, currently covering Anemones and Corals, Seaweeds and Bryozoans and Hydroids. All of the guides are aimed at improving in situ recording and are illustrated by underwater images from Seasearch divers.
Copies of all of these guides can be bought from the Seasearch Shop