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Seasearch News

Updated 22nd July 2014

Keep looking out for Priority Species

Our 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 area.


Survey Programme for 2014 now in full swing

After a shaky start in many areas , with a number of cancelled dives, the survey programme for 2014 is now in full swing and records are starting to come in. So far we have 289 forms recorded with the majority coming from Dorset (87), Jersey (43) and NE England (32). There are certainly many more forms to come and we have very few indeed yet from Scotland, Wales and 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 will be a much earlier deadline than usual. As the graphs show the majority of the records, as always, come from sites in England and the number of Survey Forms at 46% is maintaining the high figure set last year.

There 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.


Manacles Sea Fans looking healthy

Detailed 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.


Come on in - the water's lovely

Midsummer's 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.

There 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 Survey Extravaganza in Jersey

Early June saw a concentrated period of Seasearch activity in our most southerly location, Jersey, with two courses, a week of surveys and a presentation to the Societe Jersiaise all within a 10 day period. We started with a Surveyor Course for six local divers and, thanks to the week of survey dives that followed, 3 of them were able to get their six qualifying dives under their weightbelt in double quick time.

A week's diving in calm sunny weather allowed the survey team to explore new sites both close to the coast and offshore, including the Ecrehous, Paternosters and Rigdon Bank. Records included Channel island specialities such as feather duster worm, Sabella spallanzani, black face blennies, and the beautiful Pachycerinthid anemone, still only known affectionately as Dorothy. We were also looking at sites where there was maerl, a habitat threatened locally by scallop dredging.

The second weekend saw an Observer Course followed by diving and snorkelling at Rozel Bay.

Thanks to Kevin McIlwee, Seasearch Jersey Coordinator, for organising everything, Will and Bouley Bay Dive Centre for RIB and air, Societe Jersiaise for the venue for the courses, and all the participants in the courses and surveys for their enthusiasm and participation.



Seasearch 2013 data now on the NBN

The 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.

Click here to see the Seasearch dataset. You will need to log in to see individual records.


Seasearch Training and Qualifications

The 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, Surveyor and Specialist Courses are on the Training page. 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.

Please contact the person listed for each course for further information or to make a booking.

Since the beginning of April this year 7 volunteers have completed their Observer Qualification. They are: Gerard Storey (S), Frances Perry (W), Chris Moore (IOM), Lara Howe (IOM), Abbi Scott (E), Colin Garrett (E) and Fransesca Monticelli (CI).

We have had 2 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period. They are Amy Marsden (E) and Andy Grant (E).

Congratulations to them all.








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