28th August 2014
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
records for 2014 top 600
a good spell of settled weather in July Seasearch data is now increasing
fast. So far we have 613 forms recorded with the majority coming
from Dorset (110), North East England (80) and Wales (79). There
are certainly many more forms to come and we have very few indeed
yet from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some may be with coordinators
who have not yet registered them. Please ensure you send us your
forms promptly after dives, we are likely to be entering forms as
we go along during the year, especially in England where there may
be a much earlier deadline than usual. As the pie charts show the
majority of the records, as always, come from sites in England and
at present the number of Survey Form and Observation Forms are very
are still places available on many of the 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
you money back.
Natural Heritage supporting Seasearch 2014-2017
are very glad to announce that Scottish Natural Heritage has decided
to continue to support Seasearch for the next three years. Their
support helps with the national organisation of Seasearch and especially
with training and surveys in Scotland. The news comes hard on the
heels of the declaration of 30 new Marine Protected Areas in Scotland,
and Seasearch data was used as part of the backgound justification
for many of them.
will be looking for somebody to help expand and coordinate Seasearch
activity in Scotland either on a part time basis or as part of a
wider role involving other MCS projects in Scotland. If you would
like to receive more information about this role when it is advertised
please get in touch with Chris
Wood and we will send you the details in due course.
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.
on in - the water's lovely
day, blue skies. little or no wind and flat calm seas. What more
could you want to get Seasearching? Oh yes visibility and that was
about 15m. Seasearch Devon's dives targeted previously unrecorded
sites near Hope Cove in perfect diving conditions (did I mention
current - no there wasn't any all day it seemed). The deeper site
was named Ascidian acres because of the huge fields of Stolonica
socialis (orange sea squirt) and Clavelina lepadiformis
(light bulb squirt). Hornwrack was being devoured by hundreds of
Crimora papillata and finger bryozoans were festooned with
Acanthodoris pilosa egg masses. The second site had typical
Bigbury Bay inclined shale reefs with red seaweeds and a variety
of sessile and animal life, including spotted rays in the gravelly
gullies and Okenia elegans in numbers. The picture is of
an Okenia laying its eggs.
is still time to book for Seasearch surveys. A number have spaces
available and it is always worth contacting the organiser about
last minute spaces which often come up. Get out and get recording!
Seasearch 2013 data now on the NBN
Seasearch data for 2013 has now 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 prictice 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 whre 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.
July and August 8 volunteers have completed their Observer Qualification.
They are: Sue Meakin (E), Robert Fairweather (W), Sally Gates (W),
Sarah Chaddock (E), Dylan Davies (W), Frank McDonagh (IE), Agnes
Walsh (IE) and Fiona White (E)..
have had 3 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period. They are:
Frances O'Sullivan (IE), Paul Chambers (CI) and Kevin McIlwee (CI).
to them all.