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Seasearch News

Updated 14th April 2014


Seasearch Training and Qualifications

The programme of Seasearch training courses for 2014 is well underway with three courses last weekend alone. Dates for the remianing Observer, Surveyor and Specialist Courses are on the Training page. There are more in the planning stage.

There are also over 80 survey dives listed on the Diving page. Most of these are at weekends ranging from the most northerly dives possible in England, nudibranchs in Wales, week-long surveys in the Sound of Mull and Jersey, south Devon reefs and eelgrass weekend, a day off Lands End, summer evenings in Dorset and shore dives on chalk reefs in Norfolk. Something for everybody.

Please contact the person listed for each course or dive for further information or to make a booking.

Following a successful course in Cornwall last weekend we also have a new Seasearch Tutor, Caz Wadell (below). Caz became an active Seasearcher whilst living in Pembrokeshire and gained her Surveyor qualification there. She now works for Cornwall Wildlife Trust and will be able to help Cat Wilding, the Cornwall co-ordinator with future Seasearch courses and events. After course diving took place in Falmouth, where huge numbers of greenleaf worm eggs were present and the snakelocks anemones were looking particularly colourful in the sunshine.


Since the beginning of January this year 12 volunteers have completed their Observer Qualification. They are: Tim Parmley (E), Rik Girdler (E), Tim Murphy (I), Rod Hogg (E), Aisling O'Donnell (I), Liz McLardy (S), Valerie Storey (S), Ivan Houston (S), Robert Beharie (S), Amy Houston (S), Gerard Storey (S) and Frances Perry (W).

We have had 3 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period - Kirstie Harris (who wrote an article on her Surveyor course in SCUBA magazine last year), Fidlema Carroll who became our 100th Surveyor and Amy Marsden. Fidelma is pictured with her reward!

Congratulations to them all.





Why is the sea still so murky?

A number of our early season shore and boat dives have had to be cancelled because of poor conditions. In the south-west the main problem has been the lack of underwater visibility. Current calm seas and sunshine are helping but dives within the last week have only had 2- 3metres in south Devon and Cornwall.

The following correspondence is from Keith Hiscock after talking to the Western Channel Observatory people at Plymouth Marine Laboratories a couple of weeks ago.

"There is a tremendous amount of sediment still in the water. At the oceanographic buoy half way to the Eddystone, light transmission is usually 95%. Three weeks ago it was 60% near the surface and 40% near the seabed. The sediment loading is about 1.5mg/cu.m (I think it was per cu. m, not sure) (about 10x higher than would be expected). The sediment is very small particles and Tim used the analogy of a volcanic eruption where very small particles get ejected into the stratosphere and just stay there because they are so small and so fine.

The measures of turbidity at the buoy are normally 0.1-0.2 NTU - a unit that is not correlated to mg/cu. m but pretty much that - at present, readings are about 1.5 NTU.

How long will it last? It may take a season, maybe a whole annual cycle. I asked if any chance of oceanic water coming in and replacing the Channel water but no hope given there, although an influx of Trichodesmium (a 'Caribbean' species of phytoplankton) suggested earlier in the year that water from 20deg further south was coming in.

Wave height had been up to 14m (verging on "phenomenal" on the Douglas sea state scale) recorded at the buoy south of the Eddystone (E1) before it broke. That sort of wave action (my interpretation) would have been likely to mobilize deep sediments and penetrate into shallow sediments deeply, perhaps mobilising very fine particles that had taken decades to work their way down below the surface coarse sediments."

So a pretty depressing scenario. It will be fascinating to see if we observe any changes when we do eventually get into the water. From shore dives I have done there seems to be a light film of silt once you get past the intertidal zone, which looks normal. I hope the visibility is better elsewhere. So far we have had 4 Seasearch forms from the Isle of Man (one on Jan 1st), 7 from Dorset, 6 from Norfolk and Suffolk and one from Jersey, though there may be more in the system.


Seasearch data for 2013 tops 1,750 Forms - and more Survey Forms than ever before

A late flurry of forms from the far north means that we have now received 1,773 record forms from dives in 2013. Most of them come from England (52%), followed by Scotland (16%), Wales and Ireland (11% each), Channel Islands (6%) and the Isle of Man (4%). In England the most forms are from Devon and Dorset (19% each), closely followed by East Anglia (16%) and North-East England (15%).

52% of the records have been Observation Forms, 47% Survey Forms and 1% sea fan and fireworks anemone forms.

A Google Earth map of all the records received can be downloaded here Seasearch Forms 2013 .

We have now finished entering the forms into the Marine Recorder database. They data has all been checked and we are no making corrections prior to distribution of the data during early April. The data will be added to the Seasearch dataset on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) website and be available for all to use.

As can be seen from the graph the overall number of forms is down compared with the last two years. This is because we received fewer Observation Forms in 2013, partly due to running a smaller number of courses, and there were no organised sea fan or crawfish surveys. However the number of Survey Forms continues to rise and the total of 831 is a record. Survey Forms provide us with typically three times as much data as Observation Forms so the fact that the proportion continues to rise (47% of all the data in 2013) is good news and a testament to the skills and hard work of all the volunteer Seasearch divers.


Seasearch Data to be used in second tranche of MCZs in England

As winds and rain battered our coasts we were hard at work entering all of the 2013 data into the Marine Recorder database. We have fast tracked the data for England (912 forms or 54% of all the data) and sent it to Natural England to help with their advice on the next tranche of MCZs, following the announcement of the first 27 before Christmas.

MCZs amongst the first 27 which Seasearch provided survey reports in 2012 for are Kingmere (Sussex), Poole Rocks, Torbay and Skerries Bank These reports can be downloaded from the Achievements page. Other sites which included Seasearch data are Beachy Head West, Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges, Whitsand and Looe Bay and The Manacles.

Reports of dives within rMCZs in Dorset in 2013 have just been added to the huge repository of reports you can download from the site. They are; Poole Rocks, Chesil Beach/Stennis Ledges, Studland and Broad Bench/Kimmeridge. Or if you want to see the full list of Seasearch Reports go to the Achievements page.

The list of the second tranche of 37 sites on which Natural England will deliver advice to government have only just been announced. Sites which are within the range of Seasearch divers are:

Coquet to St Mary's (Northumberland)

Runswick Bay (North Yorkshire)

Holderness Inshore (Yorkshire)

Cromer Shoal Chalk Reefs

Dover to Deal (Kent)

Dover to Folkestone (Kent)

Utopia (Hants/West Sussex)

Bembridge (Isle of Wight)

Yarmouth to Cowes (Isle of Wight)

The Needles (Isle of Wight)

Studland Bay (Dorset)

Mounts Bay (Cornwall)

Lands End (Cornwall)

Newquay and The Gannel (Cornwall)

Hartland Point to Tintagel (Cornwall/Devon)

Bideford to Foreland Point (Devon)

Many of these sites are likely to feature in Seasearch surveys this summer and any new data we collect will be submitted in time for the formal consultation period in early 2015.

And of course it still leaves 69 of the 127 sites originally proposed unprotected until 2016 at least. We shall be collecting more data from some of them too.


Sea Anemones and Corals Second Edition

You can buy Seasearch ID Guides and slates/pencils online at .

The Second Edition of the Guide to Anemones and Corals is now available. It is a totally new book with many more images, almost all new, and additional pages about anemone research and associations.

As well as being available online you will be able to buy a copy of the book at many future Seasearch events.











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