Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Seasearch

"Scotnish Narrows is one of the proposed MCZs in Scotland, and we dived it at the end of our Seasearch trip to the Firth of Lorn SAC. Only 4m deep and about 70m from bank to bank, underwater it is teeming with life, with muddy sediment covered with black brittlestars progressing to green algae and common brittlestars, then hedgehog maerl, and finally ascidian-covered boulders at the far shore. Fabulous!"

Grant awarded - £500

Seasearch is an MCS programme which encourages volunteer scuba divers and snorkelers to contribute to recording and conservation of the marine environment. It operates throughout Britain and Ireland and has amassed a 350,000 record database which is used by government observation agencies, NGOs and academics and can be accessed by everyone through the National Biodiversity Network website.

Training and resources are critical to obtaining accurate and comprehensive records from volunteers and Seasearch is actively increasing volunteers' skills through a series of identification guides. Sea squirts are a poorly understood and difficult to identify group of marine animals, yet are important both as non-native species which can be invasive and also in biomedical research. Seasearch volunteers are working with scientists in the field to produce a guide to sea squirts and training materials to improve recording. Surveys and a sea squirt workshop took place over the summer of 2013 and Sea-Changers helped to support the survey activity in Scotland. 


The survey was carried out in September 2013. Ten volunteers took part with photographs/specimens taken from 13 sites mostly in the Firth of Lorn SAC and Loch Goal and Loch Sween proposed MPAs, and Seasearch records were made at each site. 

The sea squirt surveys are part of a focus on gathering data about sea squirt distribution and species recognition which went into a new Seasearch Guide on Sponges and Ascidians published in 2014. The Scottish survey followed events earlier in the year in both West and North Wales.

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