14th June 2016
explores Brownsea Island Peacock Worm beds
Seasearch had a fabulous and very successful weekend on Brownsea
Island in Poole Harbour in mid June surveying the Sabella pavonina
beds identified on Southern IFCA video transects.
Thanks to everyone involved - the volunteer divers (Dawn Watson,
Richard Yorke, Nick Owen, Cathryn Quick, Hugh Waite, Jean-Luc Solandt),
the boat drivers (John Humphreys, Richard Girdler and Nick Owen),
the surface support (Polly Whyte), Dorset Wildlife Trust (Chris
Thain) for accommodation and transport around the island, The National
Trust for use of their Brownsea Seahorse, Southern IFCA for their
Sabella data and Natural England for some funding. Special thanks
to organisers Lin Baldock and Charlotte Bolton for helping to make
it all happen!
surveys Falmouth maerl
beds in the Falmouth estuary are the most extensive and densest
in England. There is currently a proposal to dredge the channel
into Falmouth Docks to accommodate larger vessels, including cruise
liners. Seasearch has been concerned about the potential impact
of the dredging not only on the channel itself but also the sedimentation
effects on the maerl beds as a whole. Seasearch dives in June have
been organised by Marine Conservation Society and Cornwall Wildlife
Trust to add more data from areas to the south of the dredge channel
and on the main maerl bed at St Mawes Bank.
picture shows two typical inhabitants of the maerl bed, a Reticulated
Dragonet and an Eyelash Worm.
explores new sites in the Channel Islands
team of Seasearch Surveyors carried out a week long survey in the
Channel Islands in May. 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.
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.
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.
Courses and Dives for 2016 well underway
diving for 2016 is already underway and we have received forms
from dives in Scotland, Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Kent and
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.
recent course pictured here 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 had just
arrived and visibility was well down over recent weeks, but since
then it has cleared again and many species can be seen at their
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 is something for everyone and of course more
dates are being added as extra surveys are arranged.
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.
at the Great Northern Dive Show
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!
Crawfish are back
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.
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
Responds to Northern Ireland MCZ Consultation
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
2015 Data tops 1,400 forms
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.
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.
reports for many areas are now being produced and are uploaded to
as soon as they are ready.