Wednesday 29 May 2019

And we've arrived! Blog#4

After travelling from the East of England we have finally made it to Greater Haig Fras MCZ, which lies to the west of Cornwall. Since arriving at the site, the boat has been a flurry of activity. We have busied ourselves collecting multibeam sonar data for seabed mapping as well as beginning our camera and grab sampling.

Matt having a look at some night time multibeam collection. © JNCC/ Cefas

As the weather here has been favourable so far, we have been able to take good quality images of the seabed. Excitingly, we have already seen plenty of burrows in the imagery collected, indicating the presence of sea-pens and burrowing megafauna which we mentioned in an earlier post.

The team here are also happy to have begun collecting and sieving grab samples, which allows us to find specimens of the animals that live at the site which we preserve and store for later identification. This is a muddy job, but continuing consumption of biscuits and cups of tea helps! Even with a dash of seasickness, everyone remains in high spirits.

Keep up to date with all the latest from survey by following this blog, and using #CEND0719 on our Twitter and Facebook profiles!

Survey Fun Fact:
The Sea-pen and burrowing megafauna habitat in the deeper mud areas of the site, is listed as OSPAR threatened and/or declining. This means that the site has been highlighted for protection in order to maintain and/or restore a favourable habitat. With this habitat supporting species such as Nephrops norvegicus, sea pens and mud shrimps, you can see why it is an important place to understand. 

Sunday 26 May 2019

Away we go! CEND0719 Blog #3

Ropes off and we’ve set sail! 

After departing Lowestoft in some fine sunny conditions we’re transiting through the southern North Sea down through the English Channel. 

The scientific party have been putting the time to good use, setting up the survey equipment such as grabs and sieving tables, adjusting to day and night shift patterns and carrying out the all-important ship safety orientations and emergency drills. 

We should be arriving at our first sampling station in Lyme Bay shortly to collect samples for the Clean Seas Environmental Programme (CSEMP) before transiting to Greater Haig Fras through today into Monday morning where we can start the main sampling programme. Watch this space for updates on how the survey is progressing and some interesting insights into life and work onboard.

Keep up to date on all the goings on on survey by following this blog, and using #CEND0719 on our twitter and facebook profiles. 

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Greater Haig Fras MCZ Blog#2

Greater Haig Fras Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) is an offshore Marine Protected Area off the Cornish Coastline which covers 2,041km2 of seabed, larger than the size of West Sussex county. Greater Haig Fras MCZ is around 120km from the UK coastline and is designated for its sediment habitats, which range from fine muds to coarse and mixed sediments.

This site was designated in 2016 to afford protection to many of the species that live on and in the sediment. These species, such as the mud shrimp and Norway lobster alongside many others, help oxygen to filter deeper into the seabed and through this release nutrients back into the water column. Because of this, the site is also designated to protect Sea-Pen and Burrowing Megafauna communities, which are included on the OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining Habitat list for the North-East Atlantic.

JNCC and Cefas previously visited this site in 2012, and used similar methods to those we plan to use for this survey collecting sediment samples and images for later analysis.

Sediment seen at Greater Haig Fras in 2012 © JNCC/Cefas 

Norway lobster a burrowing species ©JNCC/Cefas

Survey Fun Fact:

Mud habitats protected within this site have a particle size of between 3.9 – 62.5ยตm in diameter, similar to the size range between a human red blood cell and a human hair.

Thursday 2 May 2019

New JNCC/Cefas Survey in May, CEND0719 - Blog#1

It’s that time of year again, another joint survey between JNCC and Cefas. This time the scientists are venturing into the Atlantic, heading south off the Cornish coastline on the RV Endeavour for 19 days to visit Greater Haig Fras Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ). This survey aims to build on our monitoring efforts to understand more about these important sites and provide robust management advice.

The scientists out on this survey will be collecting a large variety of information from within these protected areas to improve our understanding of the animals that live within these environments. This information will come in the form of photos, sediment samples, videos and maps of the seafloor. This work will all help scientists to understand what lies beneath the waves at these two sites.

Greater Haig Fras MCZ is 120km off of the Cornish coastline and the protected area covers over 2000km2 of seabed, similar to the West Sussex county. A later blog post will delve a little deeper into this site and why it’s protected so keep your eyes peeled for the later blog!