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Seasearch News

Updated 5th December 2014

We need your photos and video

Seasearch currently has two projects running for which we are looking for high quality photos and video from participants.

The fourth in our series of identification guides is in preparation and is due to be published next year. The subject is Sponges and Sea Squirts and is being written by Claire Goodwin (sponges) and David Kipling and Sarah Bowen (sea squirts). We always like to include pictures from a wide variety of locations in the guides and it is also the opportunity to showcase some of the best ID pictures from Seasearchers. We have a hotlist of sponge images needed which can be downloaded sponge list and there will be a sea squirts list to come soon. If you want to contribute your images contact Chris Wood and he will send you a Dropbox link to upload them.

 

The second project is to do a makeover of our training and promotional videos. The ones we have been using are now over ten years old and have begun to look their age. We want to do a complete makeover and this time would like to include high definition video supplied by Seasearch participants. This will allow us to have a much more diverse library of training dives available for the tutors to use wherever we are holding our courses. Again there is a specification you can download Seasearch Video Makeover and again please contact Chris Wood to let us know what you think you are going to be able to provide. In most cases this will involve taking new footage as the training sequences need to be very slow indeed so people have time to both look and record. Again we will provide a Dropbox for video to be downloaded. This project is supported by the Field Studies Council.

For both of these projects I am afrad we cannot pay for images and video. However you'll be fully acknowledged and of course receive a copy of the completed book/film as appropriate.

 

Seasearch Day at the Natural History Museum

Sunday 1st February will be Seasearch Day at the Natural History Museum in London. It will be an opportunity to meet tutors and coordinators, hear about what Seasearch has been doing in 2014 and our plans for 2015, have a look at progress with online recording and new training and promotional videos, take part in a photo clinic and have a behind the scenes tour of the zoology section of the museum. There is no charge for attending but you will need to book your place as numbers will be limited. Contact Chris Wood if you want to join us.

 

Nudibranchs in West Wales

The best Seasearch weekend of the year in West Wales was the 'Nudiblitz' - 2 days of shore dives at Martins Haven to record as many nudibranchs as possible... there were around 22 divers and 31species were recorded. Many photos were taken and some samples were collected to help with ID with microscopes set up in the Marine Reserve office. The diving supported a nudibranch survey being conducted in the reserve by staff, the aim being to target a diverse range of habitats... at total of 53 species were found in 2014. This survey is completed every 4 years as nudibranchs (as specialised feeders and as predators at the top of their food chain) are good indicators of the health and diversity of the supporting communities that they are found. Highlights were nationally scarce species Doris sticta (Kate Lock), Okenia elegans (Hayden Close - right) and Doto floridoicola (Richard West) - the last being a confirmed species by Bernard Picton and has only been recently named.

 

 

New Seasearch Coordinator in Scotland

We are pleased to announce that we have an additional Seasearch Coordinator in Scotland. She is Georgia Conolly who is a Seasearch Tutor and was formerly Marine Ranger at St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve. Georgia will be organising courses and survey dives throughout Scotland, complementing existing activities in Argyll and Orkney. She will also be collating the data and writing reports. Georgia's role is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage.

This means we now have 4 tutors and organisers in Scotland. In addition to Georgia, Calum Duncan will continue to provide policy input and be available for courses and dives. Owen Paisley will continue to organise activities in Argyll (he is also supported by SNH) and Jo Porter will continue to organise events in Orkney on a voluntary basis. Look out for a full programme next year and if you want a course to be arranged in your area or can volunteer help for survey dives contact Georgia at seasearchscotland@outlook.com

 

 

 

 

Seasearch Survey Forms exceed Observation Forms for the first time

As the number of Seasearch Forms this year reaches 1,350, for the first time we have received more Survey Forms (669) than Observation Forms (642). This is a measure of how the quality of the records we receive has increased as Survey Forms typically provide three times as much information than Observation Forms.

However, at present, the number of all records is still well down on the final figure for previous years. Some more surveys will take place, though the main programme is now completed, and there may be some forms not yet logged by coordinators. However If you have forms you have not yet sent in please do so as soon as possible as we are now starting our annual update. We are especially keen to receive outstanding data from England where we need it to inform the second tranche MCZ consultation in early 2015.

Of the forms received 63% come from sites in England, the majority from, Dorset (171), East Anglia (152) and Cornwall (149). Outside of England most records are from Wales (180), Ireland (99) and the Channel Islands (92).

A map (image right) has been created showing all of the sites recorded this year so far. You can download the file here and open it in Google Earth.

 

Seasearch Training and Qualifications

The programme of Seasearch training courses for 2014 is now completed. We always arrange courses early in the year so that volunteers can go out and practice over the summer. We are now starting to plan courses for 2015 so now is the time to contact either the National or your Local Coordinator to express interest in a course next year, especially if you are part of a group from a club or dive centre wanting to get involved.

During September, October and November 7 volunteers completed their Observer Qualification. They are: Paul Roland (IE), Paul Mills (E), Mark Taylor (E), Adam Stevens (E), Alex and Geoff Marquis (W) and Emma Christison (E).

We have had 4 new Seasearch Surveyors in the same period. They are: Tim Butter (IE), Tom Stamp (W), Tim Parmley (E) and John Lampett (E).

Congratulations to them all.

 

Seasearch proposed Marine Conservation Zones in Northern Ireland accepted

The 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 proposed two additional areas of search based on our own records. These were 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 have now heard that our proposals for Red Bay have been accepted for inclusion in the 2nd tranche of NI MCZs and the features of interest for the Strangford Lough MCZ will be extended to encompass the sea caves and gullies around Guns Island.

The picture shows a diver in one of the Ardglass gullies.

 

 

Lundy surveys

On 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.

Our 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.

On the pink sea fan front there were no surprises. Most of the colonies have dead 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 recover. There are also significant numbers of dead fans, mostly providing a suitable habitat for hydroids and bryozoans, especially Cellaria sp.

Sadly 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 being maintained we did not see any signs of recovery.

The pictures show one of the survey sites, Gannet's Rock, and sunset corals.

 

 

 

 

     

   

 


 

 

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