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Seasearch News

Updated 23rd July 2016

New Seasearch Observers and Surveyors

Our programme of 2016 courses got off to a flying start and there have been 20 Seasearch Courses so far this year. The Observer Course programme is now completed, though there may be others arranged at short notice to meet demand.

Now we are concentrating on survey diving and so far this year 15 of our volunteers have completed their Observer qualification. They are: Lynne Mackay (S), Jess Mead (E), Elaine LeClaire (CI), Zoe Masters (E), Alec Routledge (E), Rick Allbrook, (E), Kat Berry (E), Holger Schumann (E), Terry Ozanne (CI), Chantelle de Gruchy (CI), Jake Davies (W), Sue Foster (E), Yvonne Oates (E), Patricia Mole (E) and James Nash (W).

We have had one new Seasearch Surveyor, Hayden Close (W).

Data is also starting to come in from the survey dives. So far we have 380 forms registered. Many of these are from training dives as is usual for this time of year and thus 67% are Observation Forms and 33% Survey Forms. 50% of the data (190 forms) comes from England, with 20% (77 forms) from Scotland, 14% (53 forms) from Wales, 10% (39 forms) from Channel Islands, 5% (17 forms) from Northern Ireland and 3 forms from the Isle of Man.


Seasearch explores Brownsea Island Peacock Worm beds

Dorset 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!


Seasearch surveys Falmouth maerl

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 were organised by Marine Conservation Society to add more data from areas to the south of the dredge channel and on the main maerl bed at St Mawes Bank. Further surveys are planned for September.

The picture shows two typical inhabitants of the maerl bed, a Reticulated Dragonet and an Eyelash Worm.


Seasearch explores new sites in the Channel Islands

A 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.



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

Over 20 Seasearch courses have already taken place in 2016 but there are 2 Surveyor Courses and 1 Marine Life Course still to come.

Many survey dives have already taken place and there are another 30 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.

One of the Observer courses 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 summertime best.

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.


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 contined to see them regularly 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



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.


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. The latest are from Kent and Devon.








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