"Thank you to Sea-Changers for allowing this to happen! We hope to run a project with your support again in future :) "
The Sea Squirt Safari trained recreational scuba divers in the identification and recording of local sea squirt species in Northern Ireland and gathered vital data on the distribution of this relatively under-recorded species. Just in case you're not entirely sure what a Sea Squirt is - that probably includes most of us, to be fair - it's a tube shaped animal that's usually fastened to a rock which feeds by filtering water. They are an important group with ecological roles as a water filterer, prey item for bottom dwelling fish and shelter for smaller marine organisms.
In Northern Ireland, studying these invertebrates is particularly important in light recent records of invasive sea squirt species which come here from foreign waters. They can spread rapidly, smothering, or in some cases displacing native species and spreading disease.
The Sea Changers grant enabled Seasearch NI to run a weekend of diving off the Skerries (Portrush, County Londonderry) with a sea squirt expert. 29 species of sea squirt were observed during the dives including one never seen before in NI. As well as contributing to the existing species distribution database around Northern Ireland, a key objective of the Sea Squirt Safari was to improve identification skills amongst Seasearch divers and in doing so, spark interest and encourage future recording.