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2017 - Grant Award - £700

Hampshire Seasearch

We will conduct survey dives using Seasearch methodology to record the marine life and habitats in two data deficient Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), providing valuable data to aid management decisions and UK marine conservation. The first site, the Offshore Overfalls MCZ, is 20km off the coast of Hampshire and includes glacial erosion features that provide habitat for a wide diversity of marine life. We will also survey the South Dorset MCZ, which is 18km off the Dorset coast and protects rare chalk reefs. In the deeper water of this MCZ, chalk can form sea caves which are especially important for marine life. By using decompression, or technical, diving we can access these deep sites that have never been surveyed by Seasearch divers. We will collaborate with Luke Holman, from the University of Southampton, to sequence DNA from water collected at each site to determine if invasive species are present. The south coast is subject to one of the highest rates of biological invasions in the UK, and this project will help us understand the spread of invasive species. This exciting project combines modern technical diving with state-of-the-art molecular biology, providing a unique data set to help monitor these important MCZs.

 

2012 Grant award - £500

Marine Conservation Society Seasearch Sea Squirt Identification Scheme

Seasearch is programme which encourages volunteer scuba divers and snorkellers to contribute to recording and conservation of the marine environment. It operates throughout Britain and Ireland and has amassed a huge 350,000 record database which is used by government  conservation agencies, NGOs, 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 their 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 are taking place over the summer of 2013 and Sea changers is helping to support the survey activity in Scotland. The new identification guide will be published in 2014. This is a great example of citizen science working together with professionals to improve the information on marine species available to
everyone.

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