2nd October 2014
records for 2014 top 1000
the settled weather continued during September in many areas Seasearchers
have been recording all over Britain and Ireland and the data for
the year is now increasing fast. So far we have 1042 forms recorded
with almost two thirds coming from sites in England, the majority
from Dorset (143), Devon (117) and Cornwall/IOS (113). Outside of
England most records are from Wales (112), Ireland (93) and the
Channel Islands (83). There are certainly many more forms to come
and we have very few indeed yet from Scotland. Some may be with
coordinators who have not yet registered them. Please ensure you
send us your forms promptly after dives. We have already started
entering forms this year, especially in England where we need the
data to inform the second tranche MCZ consultation in early 2015.
high proportion of Survey Forms continues for 2014. The current
proprtion of 46% of all forms equals the highest ever achieved in
2013. This year we have also received more pink sea fan data than
in recent years, mostly becuase of looking at populations after
the storm damage of last winter. Thankfully in most areas they remain
in good condition.
are still a few more 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 your money back.
proposes Marine Conservation Zones in Northern Ireland
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
has proposed two additional areas of search based on our own records.
These are 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. We will be meeting DOENI
shortly to discuss our proposals and public consultation on the
programme will take place next year.
picture shows a diver in one of the Ardglass gullies.
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 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
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 where 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 12 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), Paul Roland (IE),
Paul Mills (E), Mark Taylor (E) and Adam Stevens (E).
have had 4 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period. They are:
Frances O'Sullivan (IE), Paul Chambers (CI), Kevin McIlwee (CI)
and Tim Butter (IE).
to them all.