17th November 2014
proposed Marine Conservation Zones in Northern Ireland accepted
Northern Ireland government is currently working on a programme
for designating new Marine Conservation Zones to add to the growing
network of MCZs (England) and MPAs (Scotland).
Seasearch has been represented at two stakeholder workshops and
Seasearch data has been used to help formulate the proposals. Eight
‘Areas of Search’ have been identified by DOENI including
Native Oyster beds in Lough Foyle, deep mixed sediments north of
Rathlin Island and horse mussel beds on the Outer Ards. Seasearch
has been adding data by planning dives in 3 of the 8 areas, Outer
Belfast Lough, Outer Ards and Carlingford Lough.
We believed there were significant gaps in the proposals and Seasearch
proposed two additional areas of search based on our own records.
These were seagrass beds in Red Bay, County Antrim which we believe
to be the largest in Northern Ireland and unique subtidal gullies
and sea caves at Ardglass, County Down.
have now heard that our proposals for Red Bay have been accepted
for inclusion in the 2nd tranche of NI MCZs and the features of
interest for the Strangford Lough MCZ will be extended to encompass
the sea caves and gullies around Guns Island.
picture shows a diver in one of the Ardglass gullies.
Survey Forms exceed Observation Forms for the first time
the number of Seasearch Forms this year exceeds 1,250, for the first
time we have received more Survey Forms (626) than Observation Forms
(612). This is a measure of how the quality of the records we receive
has increased as Survey Forms typically provide three times as much
information than Observation Forms.
at present, the number of all records is still well down on the
final figure for previous years. Some
more surveys will take place, though the main programme is now completed,
and there may be some forms not yet logged by coordinators. However
If you have forms you have not yet sent in please do so as soon
as possible as we are now starting our annual update. We are especially
keen to receive outstanding data from England where we need it to
inform the second tranche MCZ consultation in early 2015.
the forms received 63% come from sites in England, the majority
from, Dorset (160), Cornwall (149) and East Anglia (136). Outside
of England most records are from Wales (168), Ireland (93) and the
Channel Islands (83).
map has been created showing all of the sites recorded this year
so far. You can download the file here
and open it in Google Earth.
Training and Qualifications
programme of Seasearch training courses for 2014 is now completed.
We always arrange courses early in the year so that volunteers can
go out and practice over the summer.
We are now starting to plan courses for 2015 so now is the time
to contact either the National or your Local Coordinator to express
interest in a course next year, especially if you are part of a
group from a club or dive centre wanting to get involved.
September, October and so far in November 7 volunteers have completed
their Observer Qualification. They are: Paul Roland (IE), Paul Mills
(E), Mark Taylor (E), Adam Stevens (E), Alex and Geoff Marquis (W)
and Emma Christison (E).
have had 4 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period. They are:
Tim Butter (IE), Tom Stamp (W), Tim Parmley (E) and John Lampett
to them all.
2013 data on the National Biodiversity Network
Seasearch data for 2013 has been added to the huge Seasearch dataset
on the National Biodiversity Network. The dataset now contains 455,145
records and 2,831 species. The NBN now displays the whole dataset
for the first time (previously the Channel Islands data was not
shown) and the map (right) shows the amazing geographical spread
of Seasearch records.
see the Seasearch dataset. You will need to log in to see individual
have commenced ata entry of the 2014 records..
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
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 dead 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 recover. 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 being maintained we did not see any
signs of recovery.
pictures show one of the survey sites, Gannet's Rock, and sunset
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.