Notice

Weymouth and Portland Sub Aqua Club

"The Pink Seafan Reef supports a diverse fauna which includes a number of species of conservation interest which are typical of the rocky reefs for which the Studland to Portland Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is designated."

Grant awarded - £500

Seasearch divers from Weymouth & Portland BSAC are revisiting the Worbarrow Reef to follow-up Dorset Wildlife Trust's (DWT) 2003-2005 survey of pink sea fans (Eunicella verrucosa). This beautiful species is a long-lived, slow-growing coral which is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and is also a designated Biodiversity Action Plan species and Species of Conservation Interest for Marine Conservation Zone designation.

The pink sea fan is at the easternmost extent of its UK range in Dorset, so changing sea conditions could have implications for its continued survival. Long-term data loggers will be deployed on the reef to see if any trends in sea temperature can be identified and individual sea fans will be identified (as in the original study) and photographed to ascertain their growth and condition.

The club will use the resulting data and images of the rich underwater environment of the Studland to Portland Marine Protected Area, within which the reef is located, to promote marine conservation, engage with the general public (via the DWT marine centres) and encourage divers to get involved in volunteer projects such as Seasearch.

Outcomes

A scoping dive was carried out in July 2015 to gather baseline data for the start of the project. Three experienced divers, including one who was heavily involved in the original project, carried out a successful dive on the reef and brought back records of 50 taxa and a host of photos. The Seasearch survey methodology was used to record the dive and the data is included in the national Seasearch dataset on the National Biodiversity Network.

Five more club members are being trained in Seasearch recording methodology and aiming to become involved in the project with more interested in an upcoming Seasearch Observer course.

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