Archive for May, 2012

Big Beach Clean up

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

On  the morning of Friday 11th. May about thirty people came along to Sandylands at Morecambe to help clear and record items of  litter from a long stretch of the beach.  The event was organised by the Marine Conservation Society and sponsored by Marks and Spencer as part of the Big Beach Watch weekend with similar events taking place all around the UK.  After collecting the obvious items, bottles, drinks cans and all manner of items made from plastic attention turned to the large sea defence boulders at the top of the beach. It was from here that the bulk of the litter came, mostly in the form of rope, fishing net and plastic strapping band which filled a large number of plastic sacks.  Marine litter is a massive problem, not only around the UK, but world wide. It is estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile in the world’s oceans.  Marine litter is an eyesore, it costs everyone money to  remove it and also the cost to the local economy,  its  a health hazard to both wildlife and human beings alike. Discarded plastic can be regarded as the major pollution problem of the 21st century both at sea and on the land.  After a snack lunch provided by M&S a small group enjoyed a walk along the shore at Half Moon Bay, Heysham organised by Lancs. Local MCS Group where we spent an hour or so looking at the many different plants and animals to be found there.  The next beach clean/litter survey will take place at Half Moon Bay, Heysham on Saturday 16th. June at 12.00hrs. If possible please come along and help to combat this massive marine litter problem, it will be an hour well spent.

Visit to Loch Creran

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Seven members of the group were joined by four members of Preston SAC on a long weekend trip based at Tralee bay about ten miles north of Oban.  Weather and conditions were good giving us the opportunity to explore the surrounding coast and hills and enabling us to dive a number of sites in Loch Creran including Creagan Inn Bay, the narrows between the inner and outer basins, a rocky reef on the south side of the inner basin and the serpulid worm reefs.  A long drift dive on the flood tide through the narrows was described as at the very least exhilarating.  Lewis spotted a cling fish on one dive but was unable to stop in the current to photograph it and Ron found a flame shell in the narrows just after using the last frame on the film.  The final dive of the weekend was from the old railway pier at Kentallon on Loch Linnhe. A swim of about 200 metres from the pier out into the loch brings you to a quite spectacular vertical wall with an abundance of marine life, a great dive to end a well organised weekend, thanks to Gordon.

Windmills in the Irish Sea

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Burrbo Bank & Walney offshore wind farms on Wednesday 9th May was an excellent talk to the group by Peter Sills of DONG Energy. His account of the engineering and political challenges to building offshore wind-farms was fascinating, and resulted in a friendly debate that engaged everyone in the audience.

Wind energy is likely to become a vital part of the energy mix in the UK over the next 20 years, and offshore exploitation does generate less public opposition than land based turbines. For marine life, the hard substrates used to protect cables and turbines from scour provides additional habitat, and the ban on trawling within the farm may be a valuable protection for life that makes use of the softer sea bottom common in the area.

The development of this new mixed ecosystem is likely to be quite interesting…

Thanks again to Peter for his long journey up to visit us!

Chagos MPA Second Anniversary Progress Report

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Chagos logo

The Chagos Conservation Trust reports that in the year to April 2012 “…there was significant progress in developing and prioritising the necessary scientific research to support the conservation and long-term management of the world’s largest no-take marine reserve. Crucially, too, there has been a dramatic increase in the interest and involvement of the international scientific community in research relating to the Chagos archipelago.”

The full report is available from their website through the link below:

Chagos Anniversary Progress Report (PDF 172kB)

Lochaline, Easter 2012

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Lochaline has become firm favourite and a regular Easter venue for members of the group over the last few years. This year six members and a friend spent four very pleasant days in this wonderful location.  Beautiful coastal scenery, excellent walking, places to visit, and the diving is also very good as well.  A walk along the Western shore of the loch passes a large silica sand mine, the white sand spilling out onto the shore creating what could  easily be mistaken for tropical coral sand beaches. Sand from the mine was used to produce high quality optical lenses for gun sights etc. during WW2.  Continuing along the loch there are a number of quite interesting geological features and on the loch itself many different species of water bird can be seen, Grey herons around every corner.  One member of our party out kayaking on the loch was fortunate enough to have a very close encounter with otters, the rest of us were green with envy.  Follow the track around the head of the loch and along the eastern shore to where a small stream tumbles down a small steep valley.  Search amongst the boulders and stones in the stream bed and you will be sure to find fossil oysters called Gryphaea that lived on the muddy shoreline of a tropical sea 200 million years ago.  Most of the diving  was from the easy access Hotel beach which leads gently down over the white sand with lots of tube anemones, Cerianthus lloydii to the top of the Lochaline wall,  an almost vertical rock face plunging down to great depths, well beyond the reach of most sport divers. Spectacular diving with a tremendous diversity of life, we have recorded more than 120 different species on the wall  to date with a new sighting this visit of a cuttle fish, Sepia officinalis to be added. There is still much more to be be recorded on future visits. There was also a dive on the shallow sea grass beds at Rubha-nan-Sornagon, Loch Linnhe, plenty of interesting marine life, notably lots of sea potatoes, Echinocardium pennatifidum.  Overall an excellent few days, with thanks to organisers, Barry & Jo, and the good weather was an added bonus.