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Seasearch News

Updated 1st September 2015

Seasearch Courses and Qualifications 2015

The 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 Pembrokeshire, Hampshire, Gourock and Skye and there may be more still in the planning stage.

Please book up early for our courses, in some cases there are minimum numbers we need to make sure a course goes ahead.

During July and August nine of our volunteers completed their Seasearch Qualifications. They are:

Seasearch Observers - Yo-Han Cha (England), Matthew Green (Wales), Sarah Turpin (England), Stephen Turner (England), Angie Malla (England), Alan Brown (England) and Roger Danks (England).

Seasearch Surveyors - Hugh Waite (England) and Cathryn Quick (England).

Congratulations to them all.


2015 Data tops 500 forms

Seasearch 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 582 forms recorded and the map shows where they have come from. 52% of them (304 forms) are Observation Forms, 44% (256) are Survey Forms, and 4% (22) are crawfish, sea fan or horse mussel records.

At present 66% of the forms come from sites in England, 15% from Scotland and 10% from Wales. The remaining 9% are from Ireland (21), the Channel Islands (17), and Isle of Man (11).

There are certainly more in the pipeline. 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.

The picture below shows National Coordinator Chris Wood and Devon Coordinator Chris Webb chatting over some forms on the way back from a fantastic day's diving on Hand Deeps and the Eddystone on 16th August when good weather, calm seas and dolphins all came together.

Seasearch on the BBC

Seasearch 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.

Seasearch 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.


Seasearch Data for 2014 and Annual Report now available

One 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.

The 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.

To use the NBN go to 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.

Also 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:

Seasearch Annual Report 2014

These 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.


Seasearch working with Dive Clubs

A 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.

On 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.


Come on in the diving is lovely!

The diving season is now well underway and we have another 18 surveys planned and listed on the Diving page of the website. There may be more in the planning stage too.

This 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.

Please help mainain our organisers' sanity by booking early.

As 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.

All 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?

As the corny Seasearch video says at the end "Why not dive in and join us now?"



Seasearch surveys in the Manacles MCZ

One 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.

Seasearch 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.

We have looked both 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.

If you would like to help look on the Diving page for future survey dates. One 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.




Rare anemone sighting in Argyll

Arachnanthus 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.

This 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!

Lonn 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.

We undertook a follow up dive in the same area in early August. We didn't re-locate Arachnanthus sarsi but were rewarded by the first record of a fireworks anemone on the open western coast of Argyll and also yellow cluster anemones, Parazoanthus axinellae, usually found further south.







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