World Ocean Day at Freeport Fleetwood

June 24th, 2016

Thanks to everybody who made the recent World Oceans day at Freeport Fleetwood such a success. Trawls in Fleetwood harbour resulted in us finding and identifying nearly 50 species, many of which were available for visitors to Freeport to see, and touch – before being returned safe and unharmed on the Saturday evening! Stars of the event included a European eel, a lobster, a greater pipefish and several species of flatfish.

More from this event on That’s Lancashire TV (via YouTube):

Congratulations Betty!

May 31st, 2016

We are very pleased to report that Betty Green, a long time supporter of the group, has been awarded the The Wildlife Trusts’ Marsh Volunteer Award in recognition of her outstanding and demonstrable contributions to marine conservation. I cannot think of a person more deserving of this award!
Further details: Volunteer marine conservationist wins prestigious award

Beach clean April 2016

April 22nd, 2016

Photo of beach clean volunteers at Half Moon Bay, April 2016

A big thank you to everyone who came along to help on Wednesday evening’s beach clean at Half Moon Bay, Heysham. Where we were treated to the best weather of the year so far – warm, blue skies (photo above, lit by the setting sun). It was also pleasant to find a relatively clean beach, which allowed us to cover a larger area than usual. Statistics will be reported to National MCS, who can use them to campaign to reduce the litter at source.

Our next beach clean is on Wednesday, 8 June at 18:30. Meet in the Half Moon Bay car park at 18:30. Suitable clothing and footwear, please bring tough gardening or similar gloves to protect your hands whilst collecting litter. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Followed by a walk to Heysham and drinks/food at the Royal (weather permitting, LW 21:00).

Other events: We have a guided walk around Throbshaw Point, Heysham with Arnside Natural History Society on Saturday 7th May between 14:00 and 17:00. Places are limited on this walk, please confirm attendance in advance. Suggested donation of £2 per person to MCS Lancashire area group.

Beach clean at Rossall Point

March 17th, 2016

UPDATED: Beach clean organised by BBC Radio Lancashire with live music guests, at Rossall Point on Friday 1st April between 10:00 and 11:00.

Rossall point tower is easily accessible from the Rossall point pick nick car park (free). On Friday the 1st the litter pick will be taking place in front of the Tower and in both directions towards Rossall point and Fleetwood. The beach has a slight gradient to it and is predominantly shingle and sand (not too hard to walk on) with a number of groins on it.
High tide that day is at 18:24.

All the equipment needed – pickers, bags, hoops and gloves will be provided by the organisers, plus and coffee or tea of course! Times still a little uncertain, but Radio Lancashire will be broadcasting from 0930, and the litter pick will start a little after 10.

There will be a number of groups helping pick litter, love my beach, Wyre waters partnership and any volunteers that can make it!

Sponging a living

March 4th, 2016

Micrograph of the bryozoan Flustra

The Bay is home to a vast army of locals, who have survived and adapted to a landscape that appears at first glance to be empty… At our talks on the 10th February we investigated the most overlooked creatures of the Bay. The couch-potatoes. These are animals that, having found a place suitable to put down roots, have stopped there for the rest of their lives. They rely on the tides of the Bay to bring food to their waiting mouths.

The ecosystem of the Bay is driven by phytoplankton blooms, which are at their most extensive in Spring and Autumn. For the rest of the year plant life is comparatively scarce. In this environment our ‘couch potatoes’ play a vital role; every bacterium, every gram of poop, anything that can be recycled is brought back into the food chain. Despite their sedentary nature, these filter feeders are an essential part of life in the Bay.

This intensive re-use of all things organic has, unfortunately, an unexpected side effect. Organic toxins, such as PCBs (banned in the seventies) are held within the marine food web, and are responsible even today for the deaths of top marine predators, such as dolphins and killer whales (See for example: BBC report by Rebecca Morelle).

This sobering fact leads us some way towards our last talk of the Winter series in the Gregson – ‘Human Impact on the Bay’ on Wednesday 9th March. At this meeting we will look at a couple of the ways we impact the life of the Bay, through Fisheries and litter.

More information: Human impact on the bay PDF 77kB

AGM January 2016

January 21st, 2016

MCS logo (small) We were able to look back on quite a successful year at our AGM. Highlights for the group included a well attended Marine Life ID course at Leighton Moss, and ongoing series of meetings at the Gregson – which we hope to repeat, subject to our being able to come up with a suitable theme! The group made a profit of £130 from talks and events over the year, which has been donated to National MCS. A similar sum has been raised through pin-badge sales on our stand, and through Capernwray Dive Centre (to whom again our thanks!).

Events planned for 2016

The plan this year is to focus on beach cleans and out-door events over the summer period, and have a more formal series of lectures over the winter. We are hoping to increase our profile this year with an extended presence at the ‘Catch the Wind Kite Festival 2016‘ in Morecambe, and have a couple of preliminary meetings scheduled to work on this.

Further details of planned events (PDF 101kB)

For updates, please check our diary.

Stuck in the mud

January 14th, 2016

Anemone photographed at Roa Island 2015

The talks on the 13th January looked at life that crawls over the sands of the Bay. Grazers, predators and carrion feeders, these animals have an eye (nose or tentacle) to their best chance, and armour, spines and poison to defend against the rest. Starfish and dogwhelks making shellfish soup, the long-lived lobster (if she isn’t caught and eaten), or the mysterious life of the shrimp – before she is potted…

In our next meeting, we will look at the couch-potatoes of the Bay. Animals that, having found a place suitable to put down roots, have stopped there for the rest of their lives. The tides of the Bay bring food to their waiting mouths, armed with suction pumps or waving tentacles to catch the bounty as it is swept by. There is no terrestrial equivalent to the animal gardens in Morecambe Bay.

Presenters are Louise Smail (Sponges and shellfish), Barry Kaye (Barnacles, bryozoa and worms) and Gordon Fletcher (anemones and sea firs)

Stuck in the mud: Wednesday, 10 February at 19:30 at the Gregson Arts and Community Centre, 33 Moorgate, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 3PY. All are welcome, £2.00 admission.

Wanderers of the sand

December 12th, 2015

Bernard the hermit crab

At our December meeting we looked at some of the birds and fish that use the Bay – waders feeding on the rich pickings in the mud while the tide is out, replaced by flatfish swimming in with the tide to feed while the mud banks are immersed. The Bay is ranked second most important area for migratory birds in the UK, offering a vital stop-over point on the East Atlantic Flyway, connecting wintering grounds in South Africa with feeding and breeding grounds in Norther Canada, USA and Russia. Rather less is known about the fish population, but both birds and fish are free to move in three dimensions, and have the freedom to exploit the Bay. Our next talk looks at groups of animals that have more limited movement, and must stick to channels, or suffer being flooded and dried out twice a day…

Hunters and hunted – those that crawl the sands of the Bay are an alien band of creatures, armoured, multi-armed, poisonous; whatever it takes to survive… Bernard the hermit crab (above) has sharp eyes, but he is too slow to escape the fish that might snack on him, so he retreats into an old whelk shell, guarding the entrance with his impressive claws.

On Wednesday the 13th January we will have three short talks on starfish, crustaceans, slugs and snails:

‘Wanderers of the Sand’ 19:30hrs Wednesday 13th January at the Gregson Community Centre, Moore Lane, Lancaster LA1 3PY
All welcome – admission £2, proceeds to Lancashire Marine Conservation Society.

The Freedom of the Bay

November 30th, 2015

Photo of a peregrine falcon
At our last meeting we ventured back in time to the last Ice Age, when the Bay was scoured out from the underlying rock by glaciers making their way down from the Scottish Highlands and the peaks of the Lake District. Since then the Bay has been filled with fine silts to a depth of 80m in places, leaving a shallow, productive, estuarine environment. The plants at the bottom of the food-chain in the Bay are microscopic unicellular algae called ‘phytoplankton’, and their lives are governed by the tides and river currents, and they are so small that you may have overlooked them, even though massive numbers of them live in the Bay…

On the 9th December we will turn our attention to two, more visible, groups of wildlife that use the Bay – the fish and the birds. These animals use the winds and the tides, and are able to hunt and explore as they see fit. Among the bird life of the Bay you may spot Percy the peregrine falcon. If you’re lucky you’ll see him doing a ‘fly-past’ over the bay during the autumn and winter and causing a commotion!

‘The Freedom of the Bay’ 19:30hrs Wednesday 9th December at the Gregson Community Centre, Moore Lane, Lancaster LA1 3PY
All welcome – admission £2, proceeds to Lancashire Marine Conservation Society.

The Freedom of the Bay (PDF 55kB).

See our diary for updates or more events.

Peregrine Falcon photo credit: Mike Baird via Wikipedia.

Meet Erika, she is an economic migrant…

October 16th, 2015

Erika Morecembe, photo Gordon Fletcher at Roa.

She looks pretty fearsome, and she will give you a nasty nip if you annoy her, but, like any good parent, all she wants is to give her children a good start in life. To do that she has walked to Roa Island in Morecambe Bay from the deep waters of the Irish Sea. The shallow waters of the Bay are warmer, so her eggs will develop more quickly, and when they hatch there will be an abundance of food – as Morecambe Bay is one of the most productive environments on the planet – honest! (On land you would have to go to a rainforest to do better – yet Morecambe Bay is only a bus stop away!)

Over the winter period Lancashire MCS will be presenting ‘Morecambe Bay at the Gregson’. The first event ‘Introducing Morecambe Bay’ will be on Wednesday November 11th at 19:30. There will be two short talks suitable for a general/family audience, that will introduce the Bay – how it was formed, and what makes it important to the wildlife that calls it home.

‘Introducing Morecambe Bay’ 19:30hrs Wednesday 11th November at the Gregson Community Centre, Moore Lane, Lancaster LA1 3PY
All welcome – admission £2, proceeds to Lancashire Marine Conservation Society.

Introducing Morecambe Bay (PDF 90kB).

See our diary for updates or more events.