5th September 2014
Underway in Guernsey
30th-31st August we ran a Seasearch course in Guernsey hosted by
the Societe Guernsaise and Blue Dolphins Sub Aqua Club and involving
11 volunteers. The weekend started with a talk about Seasearch with
a focus on the Channel Islands and was followed by the Observer
course on the Saturday and two dives for all of the participants
on the Sunday. There are plans for regular dives on the island and
it will be good to get more data from Guernsey which has lagged
behind the other Channel Islands in terms of Seasearch surveys in
records for 2014 top 700
a good spell of settled weather in July and parts of August Seasearch
data is now increasing fast. So far we have 717 forms recorded with
the majority coming from Dorset (134), Devon (83) and North East
England (80). There are certainly many more forms to come and we
have very few indeed yet from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some
may be with coordinators who have not yet registered them. Please
ensure you send us your forms promptly after dives, we are likely
to be entering forms as we go along during the year, especially
in England where there may be a much earlier deadline than usual.
As the pie charts show the majority of the records, as always, come
from sites in England and there are slightly more Observation Froms
than Survey Forms.
are still places available on many of the survey dives listed on
the Diving page of the website. Contact
the organiser for each event for further information or to make
a booking. Where boat dives are involved we will normally ask for
full payment before the dive to ensure we do not lose out as a result
of no-shows. If the weather forces cancellation then you'll get
you money back.
Saturday 16th August a Seasearch team carried out two dives in Lundy
within the no take zone on the eastern side of the island. We had
hoped to return on the Sunday but the weather had different ideas
with strong north-westerly winds.
targets were to record priority species and the condition of pink
sea fan colonies which we have been looking at on a regular basis
since the sea fan disease hit in the early 2000s. Sunset corals
were recorded at the Knoll Pins, a long known site for this species,
and a crawfish was also recorded in the no take zone as well as
lobsters and noticeably large edible crabs.
the pink sea fan front there were no surprises. Most of the colonies
have dea areas, mostly at the centre where they were affected by
the disease. The new growths at the edges are healthy but the dead
part will never ecover. There are also significant numbers of dead
fans, mostly providing a suitable habitat for hydroids and bryozoans,
especially Cellaria sp.
there is little evidence of new settlement either of sunset corals
or pink sea fans with none of the little 'sticks' that are commonly
seen off the south coast of Devon and Cornwall. Thus while the population
of both species is probably bein maintained we did not see any signs
pictures show one of the survey sites, Gannet's Rock, and sunset
Natural Heritage supporting Seasearch 2014-2017
are very glad to announce that Scottish Natural Heritage has decided
to continue to support Seasearch for the next three years. Their
support helps with the national organisation of Seasearch and especially
with training and surveys in Scotland. The news comes hard on the
heels of the declaration of 30 new Marine Protected Areas in Scotland,
and Seasearch data was used as part of the backgound justification
for many of them.
will be looking for somebody to help expand and coordinate Seasearch
activity in Scotland either on a part time basis or as part of a
wider role involving other MCS projects in Scotland. If you would
like to receive more information about this role when it is advertised
please get in touch with Chris
Wood and we will send you the details in due course.
Annual Report - your top ten for 2013
Seasearch Annual Report for 2013 is now completed and can be viewed
Report Everybody on our mailing list will also be receiving
a copy by email. If we don't have your current email address please
let us know and we will add it to the database.
Report gives a summary of Seasearch activity in 2013. It shows where
the main surveys took place, some of the outcomes, the species commonly
recorded and the rarities, and information about training and coordination.
top ten species recorded by number for 2013 were:
rubens Common Starfish - 918 records
pagurus Edible Crab - 884 records
digitatum Dead Men's Fingers - 797 records
puber Velvet Swimming Crab - 763 records
esculentus Common Sea Urchin - 647 records
felina Dahlia anemones - 561 records
bergylta Ballan Wrasse - 535 records
triqueter/lamarcki keelworms - 510 records
antennina Antenna hydroid - 509 records
zizyphinum Painted topshell - 496 records
looking out for Priority Species
organised survey dives typically target gaps in our knowledge and
current and proposed marine protected areas of all sorts. However
priority species may turn up anywhere and we do like you to tell
us about them, even if you were not intending to carry out a Seasearch
dive. The latest example is this seahorse recorded at Selsey in
Sussex. Luckily Sarah Bignell, who spotted it, was able to take
a photo and Seasearch tutor James Lucey was on hand to point her
in the right direction. Seasearch diver Emma Christison was recording
at the same site so we do have both the priority species record
and the habitat information to go with it. It isn't the first seahorse
recorded from Selsey but good to know they are still around after
the winter storms. Sea horses are a protected species and, if you
are lucky enough to see one, should not be disturbed. This includes
not taking flash photos. However the site where this one is found
is not protected by any of the current designations, despite the
presence of another protected species, native oyster, in the same
Sea Fans looking healthy
records of sea fan populations were made at two sites on the Manacles
in Cornwall on 5th July. We feared the sea fan population here might
have been damaged by the winter storms which badly affected other
south-east facing sites in Southern England. We were delighted to
find that the population remains both dense and healthy at this
hotspot site for sea fans. A few of the sea fans at Vase Rock are
pictured below. We would like more records from other locations
to complete the picture so if
you are diving in areas with many sea fans it would be especially
helpful if you could measure and record the condition of the population
using our sea fan recording forms and guidelines which can be downloaded
from the Sea Fan page of the website.
subsequent dive on the Plymouth Drop Off on 23rd July, another sea
fan forest hotspot, confirms at the fans there too are in good condition.
Seasearch 2013 data now on the NBN
Seasearch data for 2013 has been added to the huge Seasearch dataset
on the National Biodiversity Network. The datraset comprises 455,145
records and contains 2,831 species. The NBN now displays the whole
datsaet for the first time (previously the Channel Islands data
was not shown) and the map shows the amazing geographical spread
of Seasearch records.
see the Seasearch dataset. You will need to log in to see individual
Training and Qualifications
programme of Seasearch training courses for 2014 is coming towards
its end. We always arrange courses early in the year so that volunteeers
can go out and practice over the summer. Dates for the remaining
Observer, and Specialist Courses are on the Training
There may be more in the planning stage and it is not too late to
organise courses, particularly whre there is a group from a club
or dive centre wanting to get involved.
contact the person listed for each course for further information
or to make a booking.
August and September so far 9 volunteers have completed their Observer
Qualification. They are: Robert Fairweather (W), Sally Gates (W),
Sarah Chaddock (E), Dylan Davies (W), Frank McDonagh (IE), Agnes
Walsh (IE) and Fiona White (E) Clare Allen (E) and Paul Roland (IE)
have had 3 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period. They are:
Frances O'Sullivan (IE), Paul Chambers (CI) and Kevin McIlwee (CI).
to them all.