14th April 2014
Training and Qualifications
programme of Seasearch training courses for 2014 is well underway
with three courses last weekend alone. Dates for the remianing Observer,
Surveyor and Specialist Courses are on the Training
There are more in the planning stage.
There are also over 80 survey dives listed on the
Diving page. Most of these are at weekends ranging from the
most northerly dives possible in England, nudibranchs in Wales,
week-long surveys in the Sound of Mull and Jersey, south Devon reefs
and eelgrass weekend, a day off Lands End, summer evenings in Dorset
and shore dives on chalk reefs in Norfolk. Something for everybody.
contact the person listed for each course or dive for further information
or to make a booking.
a successful course in Cornwall last weekend we also have a new
Seasearch Tutor, Caz Wadell (below). Caz became an active Seasearcher
whilst living in Pembrokeshire and gained her Surveyor qualification
there. She now works for Cornwall Wildlife Trust and will be able
to help Cat Wilding, the Cornwall co-ordinator with future Seasearch
courses and events. After course diving took place in Falmouth,
where huge numbers of greenleaf worm eggs were present and the snakelocks
anemones were looking particularly colourful in the sunshine.
the beginning of January this year 12 volunteers have completed
their Observer Qualification. They are: Tim Parmley (E), Rik Girdler
(E), Tim Murphy (I), Rod Hogg (E), Aisling O'Donnell (I), Liz McLardy
(S), Valerie Storey (S), Ivan Houston (S), Robert Beharie (S), Amy
Houston (S), Gerard Storey (S) and Frances Perry (W).
have had 3 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period - Kirstie
Harris (who wrote an article on her Surveyor course in SCUBA magazine
last year), Fidlema Carroll who became our 100th Surveyor and Amy
Marsden. Fidelma is pictured with her reward!
to them all.
is the sea still so murky?
number of our early season shore and boat dives have had to be cancelled
because of poor conditions. In the south-west the main problem has
been the lack of underwater visibility. Current calm seas and sunshine
are helping but dives within the last week have only had 2- 3metres
in south Devon and Cornwall.
following correspondence is from Keith Hiscock after talking to
the Western Channel Observatory people at Plymouth Marine Laboratories
a couple of weeks ago.
is a tremendous amount of sediment still in the water. At the oceanographic
buoy half way to the Eddystone, light transmission is usually 95%.
Three weeks ago it was 60% near the surface and 40% near the seabed.
The sediment loading is about 1.5mg/cu.m (I think it was per cu.
m, not sure) (about 10x higher than would be expected). The sediment
is very small particles and Tim used the analogy of a volcanic eruption
where very small particles get ejected into the stratosphere and
just stay there because they are so small and so fine.
measures of turbidity at the buoy are normally 0.1-0.2 NTU - a unit
that is not correlated to mg/cu. m but pretty much that - at present,
readings are about 1.5 NTU.
long will it last? It may take a season, maybe a whole annual cycle.
I asked if any chance of oceanic water coming in and replacing the
Channel water but no hope given there, although an influx of Trichodesmium
(a 'Caribbean' species of phytoplankton) suggested earlier in the
year that water from 20deg further south was coming in.
height had been up to 14m (verging on "phenomenal" on
the Douglas sea state scale) recorded at the buoy south of the Eddystone
(E1) before it broke. That sort of wave action (my interpretation)
would have been likely to mobilize deep sediments and penetrate
into shallow sediments deeply, perhaps mobilising very fine particles
that had taken decades to work their way down below the surface
a pretty depressing scenario. It will be fascinating to see if we
observe any changes when we do eventually get into the water. From
shore dives I have done there seems to be a light film of silt once
you get past the intertidal zone, which looks normal. I hope the
visibility is better elsewhere. So far we have had 4 Seasearch forms
from the Isle of Man (one on Jan 1st), 7 from Dorset, 6 from Norfolk
and Suffolk and one from Jersey, though there may be more in the
data for 2013 tops 1,750 Forms - and more Survey Forms than ever
late flurry of forms from the far north means that we have now received
1,773 record forms from dives in 2013. Most of them come from England
by Scotland (16%), Wales and Ireland
Islands (6%) and the Isle of Man (4%). In England the most forms
are from Devon and Dorset (19% each), closely followed by East Anglia
(16%) and North-East England (15%).
of the records have been Observation Forms, 47% Survey Forms and
1% sea fan and fireworks anemone forms.
Google Earth map of all the records received can be downloaded here
Seasearch Forms 2013
have now finished entering the forms into the Marine Recorder database.
They data has all been checked and we are no making corrections
prior to distribution of the data during early April. The data will
be added to the Seasearch dataset on the National Biodiversity Network
(NBN) website and be available for all to use.
can be seen from the graph the overall number of forms is down compared
with the last two years. This is because we received fewer Observation
Forms in 2013, partly due to running a smaller number of courses,
and there were no organised sea fan or crawfish surveys. However
the number of Survey Forms continues to rise and the total of 831
is a record. Survey Forms provide us with typically three times
as much data as Observation Forms so the fact that the proportion
continues to rise (47% of all the data in 2013) is good news and
a testament to the skills and hard work of all the volunteer Seasearch
Data to be used in second tranche of MCZs in England
winds and rain battered our coasts we were hard at work entering
all of the 2013 data into the Marine Recorder database. We have
fast tracked the data for England (912 forms or 54% of all the data)
and sent it to Natural England to help with their advice on the
next tranche of MCZs, following the announcement of the first 27
amongst the first 27 which Seasearch provided survey reports in
2012 for are Kingmere (Sussex), Poole Rocks, Torbay and Skerries
Bank These reports can be downloaded from the Achievements page.
Other sites which included Seasearch data are Beachy Head West,
Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges, Whitsand and Looe Bay and The Manacles.
of dives within rMCZs in Dorset in 2013 have just been added to
the huge repository of reports you can download from the site. They
Beach/Stennis Ledges, Studland
Bench/Kimmeridge. Or if you want to see the full list of Seasearch
Reports go to the Achievements page.
list of the second tranche of 37 sites on which Natural England
will deliver advice to government have only just been announced.
Sites which are within the range of Seasearch divers are:
to St Mary's (Northumberland)
Bay (North Yorkshire)
Shoal Chalk Reefs
to Deal (Kent)
to Folkestone (Kent)
(Isle of Wight)
to Cowes (Isle of Wight)
Needles (Isle of Wight)
and The Gannel (Cornwall)
Point to Tintagel (Cornwall/Devon)
to Foreland Point (Devon)
of these sites are likely to feature in Seasearch surveys this summer
and any new data we collect will be submitted in time for the formal
consultation period in early 2015.
of course it still leaves 69 of the 127 sites originally proposed
unprotected until 2016 at least. We
shall be collecting more data from some of them too.
and Corals Second Edition
can buy Seasearch ID Guides and slates/pencils online at www.mcsuk.org/shop
Second Edition of the Guide to Anemones and Corals is now available.
It is a totally new book with many more images, almost all new,
and additional pages about anemone research and associations.
well as being available online you will be able to buy a copy of
the book at many future Seasearch events.