Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Farewell to the night shift!

Today was our last night shift of the survey and we have been busy taking the last video tows at the Wight-Barfleur Extension site. This site has been recommended as an MCZ by the Balanced Seas Regional Project for subtidal mixed sediments, subtidal coarse sediments and subtidal sands and gravels (see the Balanced Seas Final report). 

It has been a really interesting site to video as there are lots of exciting and colourful animals living on the cobbles, boulders and bedrock. Some areas are overrun by brittlestars of several different species, whilst some areas have none.
Brittlestar bed, including the Common brittlestar, Ophiothrix fragilis (we also saw the black brittlestar, Ophiocomina nigra

Below you can see some more examples of the fantastic invertebrates that we have spotted this morning...
 Dahlia anemone with brittlestars and sponges

Common sunstar (Crossaster papposus) with Dead Men's Fingers, sponges and a Queen scallop
Potato crisp bryozoan (Pentapora foliacea)
There are also a lot of sponges growing at this site and they are amazingly diverse in shape, colour, size and form. Below you can see an example of the golf ball sponge and the yellow hedgehog sponge.
 Golf ball sponge (Tethya citrina)

Yellow hedgehog sponge (Polymastia boletiformis)

So, the only challenge now remaining for us is to get out of the habit of eating breakfast at midnight, lunch at 4am, a snack at 7:30am and dinner at midday! 

At the end of our shift we will start steaming back to Lowestoft where we will be getting off. The staff and crew of the Cefas Endeavour will, however, continue survey work in the North Sea to support the MCZ Project.

Huge thanks go to the crew and Cefas colleagues who have made our stay on Endeavour such a brilliant experience.