27th July 2015
Data starting to build up
is all about collecting data for conservation. Now the diving season
is in full swing Seasearch records are coming in from all over Britain
and Ireland. So far we have 400 forms recorded and the map shows
where they have come from. 54% of them (216 forms) are Observation
Forms, 41% (165) are Survey Forms, and 5% (18) are crawfish, sea
fan or horse mussel records.
are certainly more to come that local coordinators have not yet
been able to list. Please send your forms off as soon as possible
so we can work on them as they come in and not all in a big lump.
on the BBC
Tutor and diver Nic Faulks featured on BBC TV's Countryfile on 19th
July. If you missed it you can catch up with it here.
Nic explains what Seasearch is all about and shows how we record
using one of her own Survey Forms.
in Northern Ireland featured on Radio 4's Open Country. Seasearch
NI Coordinator Claire Goodwin was on board talking about the records
made by Seasearch of climate changes species like the red blenny.
You can catch it here.
Data for 2014 and Annual Report now available
of the principles of Seasearch is that the data that our volunteer
divers collect should be available for all to use for conservation
and research purposes. Over last winter all of the 2014 data was
entered into the Marine Recorder database and we also reviewed and
amended some of the older data - particularly improving positioning
for shore dives which is now much easier with the advent of web
mapping. In that format it has already been circulated to the conservation
agencies in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle
of Man and to records centres in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
main access for everybody else is the National Biodiversity Network
(NBN) and the species data is now live on that for everybody to
access and use. The map shows the spread of MCS surveys from 1977-1990
and of Seasearch surveys from 1995-2014. This is a great resource
for dive planning if you want to help fill the gaps. Even at a Britain
and Ireland scale you can see that we need more records from the
east coasts of Scotland and Ireland and if you zoom in the local
gaps are much more obvious to see.
use the NBN go to https://data.nbn.org.uk/
and search using just the Seasearch records by clicking the Browse
Datasets tab and entering Seasearch in the Search box. You'll find
there are 8 Seasearch datasets - one each for England, Wales, Scotland,
Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands which contain all the Observation
and Survey form records and separate datasets for our Sea Fan and
Crawfish survey data. Alternatively you can search by species -
but you will have to log in to look at individual records.
now published is the Annual Report for 2014. This contains a summary
of the main surveys and the species and habitats recorded, cncentrating
on the priority species and habitats as well as rare and non-native
species. It is being circulated by email to all on our database
but can slao be downloaded here:
Annual Report 2014
data and report are a real testimony to the skills and dedication
of the hundreds of volunteer divers from all walks of life over
the years who make Seasearch what it is.
working with Dive Clubs
couple of examples of Seasearch working with local divers in the
last week. On Sunday 28th June we held an Observer Course in a fire
station for members of Bury and SubSea SACs who are now taking part
in a joint club expedition to Northern Ireland. Wendy Northway and
Chris Wood ran the training day and the members are linking up with
Seasearch NI Coordinator/Tutor Claire Goodwin at Rathlin Island
for their training and qualification dives.
Monday 29th June Seasearchers Sally Sharrock, Keith Hiscock and
Chris Wood joined members of Ilfracombe and North Devon SAC to look
at unrecorded sites on the North coast of Devon. Thanks to Shaun
Galliver, Keith Denby and Mel for looking after us and club member
Mags Ashton is seen in the photo filling in her Survey Form after
the first dive with guidance from Sally. We were filmed for a series
of short films called Boat Stories - hence the fluffy intrusive
camera in the picture - and Mags' hidden face! (thanks to Keith
for the picture).
Seasearch enjoys working with clubs. Do contact National Coordinator
Chris Wood or your local Seasearch Coordinator if you would like
to work together on courses, expedition ideas or just suggestions
of where data from your club would help us increase the Seasearch
data available for conservation.
on in the diving is lovely!
diving season is now well underway and we have another 33 surveys
planned and listed on the Diving page of
the website. There are more in the planning stage too.
year has proved to be a slow one for bookings and we have had to
cancel a number of courses because of low numbers of participants.
All the dives have gone ahead where the weather has been kind to
us but there are vacant spaces on many of the published dates. The
organised surveys are a great way to explore new sites, up your
ID skills as there are often very experienced recorders around and
have some relaxed diving without the pressure of trainee divers
to look after. Dive surveys range from Skye to the Channel Islands
and from one-day surveys to a week long liveaboard.
help mainain our organisers' sanity by booking early.
an example a weekend survey out of Plymouth in early June explored
two previously un-recorded sites close to Plymouth (well it was
a bit breezy offshore) followed the next day by two dives on different
parts of the Eddystone reef in flat calm conditions and bright sunshine.
The jewel and elegant anemone covered walls (photo right) were at
their best and deeper down there were forests of pink sea fans and
soft corals. Priority species recorded, apart from sea fans, were
sea sea fan anemones and juvenile crawfish turned up again (see
item below) on one of the inshore reefs.
of the sites we dived were in Special Areas of Conservation and
the records made will help with ongoing monitoring. There were two
spaces free on the boat so two more Seasearchers could have enjoyed
British diving at it's best. Interestingly there were no ther dive
boats out at the Eddystone on a perfect diving day - what has happened
to all the UK divers?
the corny Seasearch video says at the end "Why not dive in
and join us now?"
surveys in the Manacles MCZ
of the first tranche of MCZs in England designated in 2013 is under
threat from a large quarrying operation on the Lizard Peninsula.
Dean Quarry operated until about 2008 but has been idle since. Now
there is a proposal for a new breakwater and jetties to accomodate
barges to export the stone to Swansea for a proposed tidal energy
scheme. The area of the new breakwater and jetties is within the
the MCZ and vessels travelling would aslo have to pass through it.
The Manacles is well known for its stunning underwater pinnacles
and rich marine life, as well as its many wrecks and the proposals
can only adversely affect it.
is working with Porthkerris Divers and the University of Exeter
to provide more data on the areas likely to be impacted by the proposals.
Of course much of the data available for the Manacles as a whole
comes from Seasearch surveys over the years and this will be used
- supplemented by this year's data.
far we have looked just at the areas of seabed that would be destroyed
by the new works and areas up and down current that could suffer
from sedimentation. We have found a huge numbers of pink sea fans,
as well as sea fan anemones, crawfish and maerl - all of which are
priority species/habitats for conservation. Other interesting sightings
are of octopus snd gurnard as well as millions of jewel anemones.
you would like to help look on the Diving
page for future survey dates. The last survey took place as an evening
dive on Wednesday 8th July and was followed by form filling into
the twilight aided by tea and biscuits.
anemone sighting in Argyll
sarsi is very rarely recorded and is a priority species in
Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is one of the tube dwelling anemones
and lives in muddy sand. It's numbers are thought to have been badly
affected by prawn trawling in much of its inshore range.
rare anemone was recently photographed by Seasearcher Lonn Landis
in Crinan, Argyll. Looking at the National Biodiversity Network
website there are only 18 records, most of which are south of Rathlin
in Northern Ireland. I saw it some years ago in the Firth of Lorn
near when Lonn's record comes from but am ashamed to say it never
got onto the NBN (pre Seasearch days). These days it is much easier
to record those rare sightings but remember posting it on Facebook
for your mates to see it doesn't record it for posterity!
recognised the anemone from the Seasearch Guide which just goes
to show how useful these guides are when you see something you haven't
come across before.
further survey of the area is planned for 8th-9th August - see the
Diving page for contact and booking.
Crawfish making a comeback?
records from Devon and Cornwall this year suggest there may be more
crawfish in southern England than in previous years. Records from
the Manacles are the first reported to Seasearch for the area since
2005, and they have also appeared on a regular basis at sites off
are a priority species because populations declined dramatically
as a result of tangle netting and probably diver predation too.
In recent years most records have come from Ireland, where recreational
diver collection is banned and West Wales where Seasearch has run
a recording programme in North Pembrokeshire.
on the lookout for crawfish this year and please report any you
find. They can be included on a Seasearch form or, if you only have
time to record just the crawfish it can be done online. You can
go to our online recording site at: Crawfish
and Seafan Recording.
image comes from one of this year's records from Plymouth.
Seasearch Tutors for 2015
now have four new Seasearch Tutors this year following courses in
Cork, Plymouth, Truro and Manchester (Atherton). Tim Butter (seen
one in from the left in the group of divers after a dive in Ireland's
first Marine Nature Reserve at Lough Hyne) is the Irish Underwater
Council Scientific Officer and an active Seasearcher in ireland.
Chris Webb (teaching on the Plymouth course, below right) is our
Devon Seasearch Coordinator and took us away with the fairies to
go diving the following day. The third new tutor is Trudy Russell
from Cornwall. Following her course we dived from the Silver Steps
in Falmouth - not quite as glamorous as it sounds, but there was
a lumpsucker guarding eggs in the shallows. Finally Wendy Northway,
our NW England Coordinator has become a tutor after a day at a fire
station where we were the guests of local clubs Bury and SubSea
who were about to go to Northern Ireland. Congratulations to all
our new tutors. They bring the total number of active tutors to
34 so we are ready to run Seasearch training for divers pretty much
anywhere in Britain and Ireland on demand.
Courses and Qualifications 2015
programme of Seasearch Courses for 2015 has been running since the
early spring. Remaining courses can be found on the Training
page of the the website. Most divers new to Seasearch start with
the Observer Course and courses and these have already taken place
from Edinburgh to Cork and Kent to County Down. Remaining courses
are in , Aberdeen, Holyhead, Pembrokeshire, Hampshire, Gourock and
Skye and there may be more still in the planning stage.
are no more Surveyor Courses currently planned but more can be arranged
if there is the demand.
book up early for our courses, in some cases there are minimum numbers
we need to make sure a course goes ahead.
April nine of our volunteers have completed their Seasearch Qualifications.
Observers - John Yarrow (England), Hugh Waite (England), Patricia
Finlay-Hanratty (Ireland), Yo-Han Cha (England), Matthew Green (Wales),
Sarah Turpin (England) and Stephen Turner (England).
Surveyors - Emma Collins (England) and Rory O'Callaghan (Ireland).
to them all.