The problem with plastic

November 24th, 2014

A short, but instructive, video about the dangers of our addiction to plastic for National Geographic. Plastic is the major component of beach litter, it is the cause of death for large numbers of sea creatures every year, and is finding its way into our diet. Thanks to Fiona for pointing me at this!

Meeting dates change

October 23rd, 2014

Over the winter our meetings will be moving to the second TUESDAY of each month, starting in November. Meetings will be in the cinema, upstairs at the Gregson Centre, 33 Moore Gate, Lancaster, LA1 3PY.

The new venue offers us banked seating for 25, with full slide/video projection facilities. The next meetings are:

Tuesday 11th November: Guide to anemones (cnidaria) by Gordon Fletcher (local area group), plus a short Beachwatch annual review by Jo Kaye (local area group). All welcome, admission will be £2.

Tuesday 9th December: Annual review, AGM, quiz! Free admission; all are welcome, but only MCS members can vote at the AGM (please bring proof of membership).

We are very grateful to the Gregson for accommodation over the winter period.

Oban in Autumn

October 6th, 2014

The group had another visit to the Oban area in September, the weather was overcast, but mostly dry. The underwater visibility was poor for the West Coast of Scotland, but the diving otherwise good, with a couple of interesting drift dives through the Creran Narrows, and other dives in the surrounding area.
Dramatically lit tunicate
Above: Using dramatic lighting to overcome some of the problems with poor visibility (Photo by Barry – thanks to Lewis for the lighting!)

Many thanks to Gordon for organising this visit. Note: There are still places free on our return visit to Oban on the 10th October (see our diary for more information)

Swimming success!

September 23rd, 2014

Roa Island Charity Swim 2014

Above: A photo taken at the Roa Island Yacht club just before the swim on the 21st September 2014 (click for larger version).

On the 17th August we were unable to swim due to bad weather (see post), and we were worried when we arrived on the 21st that we would be unable to get away because of building work on the jetty, which meant that our intended access to the beach was blocked! Thankfully Roa Island Boating Club came to our rescue, allowing us to set off from their slip. One of our swimmers also started from the yacht club, extending the swim to just short of two miles, the others took a lift on the support boats and left as intended from close to the Lifeboat slip, and everyone made it to the Piel Island slipway without mishap.

Unlike our attempt in August, the weather was perfect, warm, with clear skies and almost mirror flat water. The visibility was also excellent – we could see the bottom without being able to reach touch it from the surface! A very pleasant day out for everyone, and a big thank you again to boat crews who patiently looked after the swimmers!

We have currently raised £182 for National MCS – and you can still sponsor us through our ‘JustGiving site: justgiving.com/lancashiremcs/

Beach Clean

September 23rd, 2014

Beach Clean September 2014

Above – photo taken after the big beach clean on Saturday 20th September 2014.

Locals have been working hard to keep the beach tidy, and it was good to see it in a pretty clean condition when we arrived. There was much less sewage related waste than we have seen in the past, which is also good news, but expected as we have had a prolonged period of calm weather. Less good, we found our first sharp on the beach, a discarded hypodermic needle. Otherwise most of the rubbish was cigarette ends and sweety wrappers, almost certainly left by visitors to the beach.

Thanks to Sandra Moon of Morecambe and Heysham Soroptomists and Lancashire MCS for organising our local annual big beach clean at Half Moon Bay, Heysham.

Sponsored swim postponed

August 18th, 2014

Due to bad weather over the weekend (with wind speeds gusting to over 50KPH), we were obliged to cancel our swim across the Piel channel, we are hoping to re-schedule this for the weekend of the 20th September.

If you would like to sponsor this event (proceeds to National MCS), please visit our ‘JustGiving’ site:

justgiving.com/lancashiremcs/

Sefton Coastal Path Walk, March 2014

March 1st, 2014

Sefton Coastal Path Part 1: Linear walk from Waterloo (Crosby) to Formby
Saturday 22nd March 2014

Meeting at Ainsdale Station car park, Chesterfield Rd, Ainsdale at 09:50am (in time to buy a ticket and catch the 10:07am train to Waterloo). The car park is free for all rail users. Grid Ref SD 311122

The walk is a mixture of tarmac surfaces (minor roads, promenade and cycle tracks), rough tracks, footpaths , sand dunes and the beach. The distance is about 8 miles, with the option of an extension near Formby, The route includes Antony Gormley’s statues at Crosby and varied coastal and inland scenery (a lengthy inland detour is necessary to avoid the Altcar Army Range).

Return is by train from Formby Station to Ainsdale Station. Trains are at 07, 22, 37 and 52 minutes past the hour.

Bring food and drink for the day, waterproofs and sunglasses (depending on the weather)

Footwear – walking boots or sturdy shoes are recommended, some mud is possible.

Return train tickets are currently £4.15 (adult).

There is a toilet at Aisndale station which can be opened for rail users. Also toilets at Waterloo Interchange (30p as 5p 10p or 20p coins). There is also a toilet at Hall Road on the route of the walk (30p, 10p coins only) .

Maps Landranger no 108 (Liverpool) or Explorer Nos. 275 and 285.

Algae spring surprises

January 6th, 2014

Any of you who have attended one of our marine plants ID courses will recall that we are a bit hazy about identifying the coralline, pink encrusting species. It looks as though our reticence (or ineptitude!) on this topic is more than justified, with recent genetic studies from Mexico indicating that their most common coralline alga is actually a community of five species.

Science Daily – coralline algae species

(New ID courses are planned for 2014 – see our diary for more information)

Sea Champions

November 24th, 2013

By Justine Willard, National MCS, 13th November 2013

The Sea Champions initiative has passed us by in the North West – until now! This program received funding for the South of England, Scotland and Wales, and has paid for a small number of coordinators to inspire a larger number of volunteers to engage in a range of marine conservation activities and fund raising events.

The initiative has created a number of online resources that are available at:
Sea Champions volunteer packs

Also importantly, Justine’s visit gave us a chance to talk about how we might leverage funding for a conservation officer in the North West, who could coordinate and inspire local activities. Most grant awards come with a requirement to get matching funding – but often a proportion of this can be ‘in kind’ rather than in cash. As a consequence, if you are engaged in volunteer work for the MCS, you can fill in an activity log, and we may be able to count your time against the matched funding requirement:
Sea Champions Activity Log Sheet (Word .DOC file 141kB).

Ribble Way Walk, Jan 2014

November 24th, 2013

Saturday 25th January 2014 at 10:00hrs, walk organised by Hilary Parkes

Meet: Outside the Visitor Centre at Longton Brickcroft Nature Reserve at 10:00. Free car-parking is available inside the reserve. Grid Reference SD 479 251 Longton Brickcroft Nature Reserve on Google maps

Walk: Along minor roads, across fields then along the Ribble Way to Liverpool Rd, Penwortham. Distance about 8 miles.

Return: Bus number 2 or 2A from Penwortham Library to entrance to the Brickcroft (near the junction of Hall Lane and Liverpool Rd.) There are two buses an hour.

Bring: A hot drink and some food. There is a bakery opposite the entrance of the Brickcroft.

Footwear: Walking books recommended – some parts of the route are likely to be muddy.

WCs: The visitor centre at the Brockcroft is usually only open in the afternoon (12:30 to 16:00). Booths oin Liverpool Rd, Longton, PR4 5NB has a customer WC and a cafe (on the RH side of your route if driving from Preston)

Maps: Landranger no 102 or Explorer 286