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Seasearch News

Updated 23rd May 2016


Seasearch explores new sites in the Channel Islands

A team of Seasearch Surveyors has just returned from a week long survbey in the Channel Islands. Based on the liveaboard MV Salutay our aim was to dive new sites which have no previous records. Perfect conditions at the beginning of the week took us to two sites on the Casquets, isolated and exposed rocks nine miles west of Alderney seen in the picture and two other new sites on Alderney itself. We then moved on to two more new sites off the south coast of Guernsey, and after a day in port due to high winds to another new site off Jethou and finally an old favourite in Sark. In search of quieter conditions saw us recording from harbours in Guernsey and Alderney as well.




Highlights were the 'yellow reefs' festooned with branching and massive yellow sponges, cluster anemones and Stolonica sea squirts, crawfish (including a monster at the Casquests and 8 on one dive in Sark where there is a complete ban on their capture). Alderney has many scarlet and gold cup-corals (scarce in England and Wales) and another intriguing cup coral shown top right in the picture below. Bigger than scarlet and gold but smaller than sunsets - is it a large pale Devonshire cup coral or a pale sunset? As always the more we look the more questions we have.

It was a successful week for us all and valuable additions were made to the range of sites and species we have recorded in the Channel Islands. In June the focus of surveying there will move to Jersey where a week-long dayboat based survey is planned, which will include the most southerly dive site in british waters, Les Sauvages.



Seasearch Courses and Dives for 2016 well underway

Seasearch diving for 2016 is already underway and we have received forms from dives in Scotland, Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Kent and Jersey.

For the latest information on forthcoming courses and survey dives go to the Training or Diving pages of this site or contact your local Coordinator. Many of the Observer Courses have already taken place but there are another 4 Observer Courses listed as well as 4 Surveyor Courses and 5 Marine Life and Seaweed ID Courses.

A recent course was in Plymouth on 7th-8th May with 14 eager new (and not quite so new) Seasearchers followed by 20 people diving on the Sunday, with much form filling afterwards (note the product placement in the picture!). The plankton bloom has arrived and visibility was well down over recent weeks, but we can expect lots of action from now on, especially on the nudi front.

There are also over 60 survey dives planned. These range from single shore dives, through evening dives to weekends and a couple of week-long ones. Hopefully there will be something for everyone and of course there are lots more dates yet to be arranged.

We hope to see many of you in the sea as conditions continue to improve and, as always, look forward to seeing what you have recorded.


Seasearch at the Great Northern Dive Show

Seasearch shared space with MCS at this new show to promote Seasearch and encourage more active divers to take part. It was a busy weekend for Charlotte Bolton, Natalie Hirst and Wendy Northway who were kept talking to divers throughout the weekend, not to mention Batman, Rapunzel and various mermaids who floated by!






The Crawfish are back

One of the Seasearch targets in recent years has been to record the ups and downs of the crawish (or crayfish or spiny lobster) population. It is a priority species for conservation in the UK because of the decline in recent years due to overfishing. Seasearch records show a dramatic increase in sightings in south-west England in 2014 and 2015 and we have already started seeing them in 2016. This picture is by Bee Nuttall from Hand Deeps which we dived in beautiful pre-bloom visibility on 23rd April.

We want you records of crawfish sightings wherever you see them. They can be included on your Seasearch form of course, but if you aren't intending to complete one for the dive you can record just the crawfish on our online system here


Manacles Seasearch on video

One of the Seasearch target areas last year was The Manacles on Cornwall's Lizard Peninsula. A group of student film makers came down on one of the days were were there and there is a piece on You Tube about it all. The sound quality of the interview isn't great but you'll get the idea.

In connection with the same work we had the following comment from an activist which puts Seasearch's aspirations in a nutshell: "Seasearch have done superb work around The Manacles and that area of Cornwall. Everyone is a bit obsessed with “scientific evidence” in the marine environment so Seasearch continues to be worth its weight in gold!".



Seasearch Responds to Northern Ireland MCZ Consultation

Seasearch and MCS have responded to the Northern Ireland MCZ consultation. We have welcomed the proposed sites but do not feel they, together with existing MPAs, make up an ecologically coherent network. The 4 sites are Rathlin (where we have carried out many Seasearch Surveys), Waterfoot (where Seasearch proposed the MCZ to protect the largest seagrass bed in Northern Ireland), Outer Belfast Lough and Carlingford Lough. We have offered Seasearch volunteer expertise to assist with the suveillance of the sites. Thanks to Claire Goodwin for preparing the response which you can see on the Achievements page.


Charlotte Bolton is new National Coordinator!

I'm very glad to be able to tell you all that, after an exhausting round of interviews at MCS in February, Seasearch's new National Coordinator is Charlotte Bolton. As you probably know its a phased transition which will see Charlotte and I working side by side until the end of August when I bow out completely to spend more time underwater and in my pottery workshop. More details of how the job share is going to work later.
It was a hugely affirming experience to be reminded how much strength we have in depth in Seasearch. All of the people we interviewed were either exisitng or past local coordinators and the enthusiasm shown for carrying it on in the future was amazing. Thanks to them all.
As many of you will know Charlotte has been Seasearch Coordinator in Dorset for the past few years, she is also a Seasearch Tutor and has dealt with data entry so she has a great all-round knowledge of Seasearch. She has lots of ideas for improvements to the project too and it will be great for me to leave Seasearch in her capable hands. Watch out for those characteristic yellow frog fins on a dive near you soon!

Chris Wood, National Coordinator

And we have a new Coordinator in Scotland too. She is Natalie Hirst who is a Seasearch Observer and is a professional marine consultant with experience in Scottish marine protected area survey work.We are sure she will be a great asset to the team.
Thanks to Georgia Conolly for all her work over the last year or so. It has been a record year for Seasearch in Scotland with over 300 forms so Natalie has a hard act to follow.








23 New English Marine Conservation Zones Designated

The government has designated a further 23 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England. A number of them are sites where Seasearch has carried out surveys and provided data to assist the designation. These include: Coquet to St Marys (Northumberland), Runswick Bay/Boulby (Yorkshire), Holderness Inshore (Yorkshire), Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds (Norfolk) pictured, Dover to Deal (Kent), Dover to Folksetone (Kent), Utopia (Sussex/Hampshire), The Needles (Isle of Wight), Mounts Bay (Cornwall), Lands End (Cornwall), Newquay and The Gannel (Cornwall) and Hartland point to Tintagel (Cornwall/Devon). This brings the total number of MCZs to 50 out of the 127 put forward by the regional teams. A number of sites also Seasearched remain unprotected such as Studland Bay (Dorset), Yarmouth and Bembridge (Isle of Wight) and Mixon Hole and Beachy Head East (Sussex).

Management measures for the new sites are still to be announced.

For more information go to the MCS Website



Seasearch 2015 Data tops 1,400 forms

Seasearch is all about collecting and making data available for conservation. We had 1,442 forms submitted from divies in 2015 and the map shows where they came from. 51% of them (740 forms) were Observation Forms, 46% (660) were Survey Forms, and 3% (42) were crawfish, sea fan or horse mussel records.

52% (753) of the forms came from sites in England, 21% (292) from Scotland, 11% (152) from Wales, 7% (102) from the Channel Islands, 7% from Ireland (97), and 2% from the Isle of Man (33).

Thanks to all of the 250+ volunteer recorders.

All of the 2015 data has been entered into Marine Recorder and checked. The species datasets on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) have already been updated and are available for everybody to use. We are also be distributing the data to the Statutory Conservation Bodies in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and the Irish data to the Irish National Biodiveristy Centre.

Written reports for many areas are now being produced and are uploaded to the Achievements page as soon as they are ready.











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