The scar at Sandylands

June 6th, 2017

Walking out to the Sandylands fishtrap with reef or scar in the background.

I think we approached the evening of Saturday 27th May with some concern, the hot weather earlier in the week had turned to heavy thunder storms, and our walk accross to the scar at Sandylands looked rather questionable! In the event the weather abated, and the rain only appeared on our walk back, allowing us to enjoy a rather interesting and historic marine landscape.

Scars (or skears) are a common geological formation in the Bay, periodically adding a bit of texture in the form of glacial boulder-clay deposites to flat mud and sands. Off Sandylands this feature has clearly been of historic importance, given the number of posts indicating fish traps. Apparently these had been in use until the early 1960’s, and while they looked like conventional fish traps, (a ‘V’ shape narrowing to trap the fish in its point as the tide goes out), anecdotally they may have been associated more with mussel farming. Indeed the reef is in part covered by a large mound of mussel shells. Interspersed in the mussel shells were oyster shells – our local species of oyster was wiped out by disease a hundred years ago, and these worn shells my have been relicts of the time when they were still plentiful.

Gordon talking about some of the finds

Many of the boulders in the scar were completely covered in barnacles, or the swirling patterns of the honeycombe worm reefs. Other animals of interest included anemones, sandhoppers, a grey nudibranch, and tiny common and hermit crabs, that have recently settled to the bottom from their planktonic larval stages.

All in all, an excellent and educational experience. Many thanks to Gordon for organising this, and making an appearance despite having raced in the thunderstorms earlier in the day!

Atmospheric walk back to Morecambe

Roa Island survey

April 28th, 2017

Roa shore walk group April 2017

A big thanks to everyone who turned out for the beach walk and survey at Roa on Thursday night. The weather did not look very promising in Lancaster, but it was very sunny (though a cold wind) at Roa.

We split into two groups: The main group took a look at the life in the rock pools below the Lifeboat station, always a good hunting area, and saw a wide range of life, including plumose anemones exposed by the extreme low water. The high spot included a small lobster, I think the first time we have seen one on a beach walk, though they are a fairly common sight when diving at this time of year.

I turned to the rather less glamorous task of running a transect down the beach, which proved to be quite hard to complete before the tide turned!

Photograph of a curled octopus

We were joined by Albert towards the end of the evening; he spotted the star find – a curled octopus swimming in the surface waters within a meter of the shore. – I have added the photo above due to popular demand! The octopus was bright red in the water, but quickly changed color to white on capture. He (or she) returned to the original red colouration on release, and continued surface swimming…

I was asked about the guide we were using – this was ‘Seashore Safaris’ by Judith Oakley, and is published by Graffeg.

Deposit and return for plastic bottles

February 23rd, 2017

We have debated deposit and return for plastic bottles a couple of times in our public meetings, and I hope that many of you feel that charging a refundable deposit on all plastic bottles would be a good idea.

To get an idea of the scale of the problem; in 2007 approximately 13 billion plastic bottles of water were sold in the UK(1). It only takes a tiny number of people to toss their empty bottles aside, rather than recycling or even putting it in a bin for landfill, to make for an enormous mountain of rubbish that is going to litter  streets, our parks and the countryside around us.

Some of the rubbish dropped on land will be collected, by council workers or volunteers, but most of the plastic that ends up in the sea is going to be there for the next couple of hundred years. Here it is slowly ground up until it is small enough to eat…

A deposit scheme would reward people for returning plastic bottles for collection and recycling, and should have a positive impact on the urban landscape, and reduce significantly the numbers of bottles we find on our beaches – in 2016 the Great British Beach Clean recovered an average of 12.5 plastic bottles from every 100m of beach cleaned(2).

Over the past few years there have been a number of campaigns to increase general awareness of plastic as a litter problem. Finally, plastic bottles at least look to be a problem that we can solve, as large companies like Coca-Cola have come around to supporting a deposit scheme(3). If these large corporations think it can be made to work, there is a chance that our government can be made to listen.

You can support the Surfers Against Sewage campaign by adding your name to their petition on 38 Degrees:

Bring back bottle deposits to stop plastic pollution in our oceans.

Bary Kaye (Chair, Lancashire MCS)

References:

(1) Should we be using bottled water? Published by the Environmental Technology Centre, University of Nottingham

(2) Great British Beach Clean results 2016, Published by the MCS

(3) Coca-Cola supports Deposit Return System published by Surfers Against Sewage.

Sealochs and Kelp Forests

February 2nd, 2017

Loch Creran by Gordon Fletcher.
Above: Loch Creran offers a wide variety of interesting, and often colourful, marine habitats to explore. Photo: Gordon Fletcher.

On Wednesday 8th February, we have two illustrated talks about some of the most interesting and accessible dive sites around the British Isles. Gordon Fletcher (MCS Lancashire) will look at Sealochs, characteristic features of the West Coast of Scotland, that offer sheltered diving on a diverse range of marine habitats. Barry Kaye (MCS Lancashire) will look at Kelp forests – interesting and diverse ecosystems, that are often avoided by divers, as looking a bit too much like Tolkien’s Mirkwood

The talks are aimed at a general audience, and an admission fee of £2 is charged to cover costs.

WHERE: The cinema at the Gregson Community Centre, Lancaster, LA1 3PY
WHEN: Wednesday 8th February at 19:30
ADMISSION: £2.00 Admission
Everybody Welcome!

Sea lochs and kelp forests poster (PDF 672kB).

The rough and the smooth

January 4th, 2017

Wednesday 11th January 2017 at 7:30PM Two talks looking at how life has adapted to conquer marine environments at opposite extremes of the energy spectrum. Still Waters (and muddy bottoms) by Barry Kaye and Exposed Shores by Gordon Fletcher.
Upstairs in the Cinema at the Gregson Centre, Lancaster, LA1 3PY.
£2.00 admission, all welcome!

Please note we have added a beach clean to our calendar for Sunday, 5th March. This will be at Half Moon Bay, meeting at the Cafe car park at 11AM. Please bring suitable clothing/footwear and tough gloves to protect your hands while picking.

Man made habitats

December 2nd, 2016

Blackpool pier by Lewis Bambury.

On Wednesday 14th December we have our last public meeting of the year, with two talks from the local group looking at how some marine organisms have adapted to the ‘built environment’. Lewis Bambury will look at static objects, under the title Piers and Jetties, whilst Barry Kaye will take a look at Bilges and Bottoms

The meeting is at 19:30 in the Cinema, upstairs at the Gregson (click for website with address and venue details).
Admission is £2. Everyone is welcome.

You can download a copy of the poster below:

Man made habitats poster (116kB PDF)

Photo: Blackpool pier by Lewis Bambury.

Climate change

November 2nd, 2016

A warming world

We Brits are obsessed about the weather, but at the end of the driest October in 65 years, has it actually started to change? At this month’s meeting (Wednesday 9th November, 19:30) Jo Kaye will take a look at how global warming is likely to effect life in and around the Bay. This is the first of our winter series of lectures at the Gregson Community Centre in Lancaster (LA1 3PY for those of you with satellite navigation!), so please come along and support us if you can!

Admission is £2, and everyone is welcome (subject to the room capacity, as dictated by fire regulations). Full details in our poster linked below:

Climate change (PDF 391kB)

British Divers Marine Life Rescue

September 9th, 2016

seals on rocks by Gordon Fletcher

19:30 Wednesday 14th September This month’s talk is by Eric Thresher, about the work of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR). The BDMLR is a volunteer organisation dedicated to the rescue and well-being of all marine animals in distress around the UK. (Please note, Eric is an active volunteer for BDMLR, and we may have to substitute a talk if he is called out on a rescue).
The talk will be in the lecture room at Capernwray Dive Centre. £2.00 Admission: Everybody Welcome.

Poster with further information (PDF 111kB) – please help publicise this event if you can

Greenland – vulnerable Icecap and Icebergs

August 3rd, 2016

Photo of Greenland icebergs by Gordon Fletcher

An illustrated talk by Gordon Fletcher.
On Wed 10th August at 19:30 in the lecture room, Capernwray Dive Centre
£2.00 Admission: Everybody Welcome.

Wyre Estuary Country Park

August 1st, 2016

Jane and Kathy at the Wyre Estuary show July 2016.

Thank you to Jane and Kathy (above), who represented the MCS at the Wyre Estuary country park show on the 31st July 2016, where the mobile beach and  quiz were great attractions. £50 was raised, £31 from pin badge sales (going to national MCS) and £20 from sales towards to local group.