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

Possible Roa Island dive dates 2013-14

October 23rd, 2013

Following on from the talk on diving conditions at Roa Island, here is a provisional list of dive dates and times over Winter 2013 – Spring 2014, based on tidal information. These have not been checked yet, and are not in our calendar – so use them at your own risk.


Sun Nov. 11 LT 10:40 (meet @ 9:00)

Sat Dec. 12 LT 15:40 (meet @ 14:00) NOTE diving close to dusk
Sat Dec. 28 LT 13:43
Sun Dec. 29 LT 14:50


Sat Jan. 11th LT 14:12
Sat Jan. 25th LT 11:46
Sun Jan. 26th LT 13:04

Sat Feb. 8th LT 12:13
Sun Feb. 9th LT 13:30
Sun Feb. 23rd LT 11:17

Sun Mar. 9th LT 11:25
Sat Mar. 22nd HT 14:59

Sun Apr. 6th LT 10:52
Sat Apr. 19th HT 14:59

Sat May 3rd HT 14:54 Bank Holiday weekend
Sun May 5th HT 15:36
Sat May 10th LT 15:27
Sun May 11th LT 16:18
Sat May 24th LT 15:14 Bank holiday weekend
Sun May 25th LT 16:12
Sat May 31st HT 13:54

You can track diving conditions in Morecambe Bay here.

Thanks to Lewis for compiling these dates.

Estimating diving conditions in Morecambe Bay

October 14th, 2013

By Barry Kaye, Local MCS, 9th October 2013

The talk reviewed a web project that brings together physical information about the Bay from a range of sources, including weather, sea state and river inputs. This data informs our current understanding of physical processes in the Bay. Data are interpreted in a map that shows sea states, wind directions and the levels of principle rivers over the last five days. In addition, graphical displays review sea-sate (wave height and period) and river levels over the last fifteen days.

Graph showing river levels into Morecambe Bay

Graph showing river levels into Morecambe Bay over the last fifteen days (archival data)

The talk went on to look at how physical conditions might interact with the geography of the Bay to influence diving conditions. There is no formal model of the Bay’s ‘underwater weather’, but a number of approaches to developing such a model were proposed.

A link to the observatory is given below, users are advised, however, that this is a ‘work in progress’, there are a few rough edges, and information is provided without warranty of any kind:

Diving Roa Island: Estimating diving conditions in Morecambe Bay

Sustainable Fisheries in Morecambe Bay

September 12th, 2013

By Joe Moutlon, IFCA, 11th September 2013

The Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCA’s) are a recent addition to the management of our coastal waters, taking on the role of the Sea Fisheries Committee in 2011. Unlike the old committee; they have a broader remit to manage fisheries, social and environmental activities up to 6 miles from the coastline.

Joe’s talk took in fisheries in the Bay area, describing the mix of traditional and more modern practices, and how they are managed to help ensure sustainable stocks and livelihoods. The Bay is an unusual fishery, with fishermen employing a small number of boats, and a larger number of tractors! Both require a great degree of skill to navigate across the shifting sands safely to their preferred fishing grounds, which include some of the largest mussel beds in the world. Many of the traditional catches are sustainable – with populations of cockles and mussels experiencing natural cycles of abundance. Where there have been concerns, for example with takes of juvenile Sea Bass around Heysham, both fishermen and the angling community have supported the ‘Heysham Bass Nursery Area’, which is now closed to fishing under Byelaw 5.

With further good management, and the engagement of the fishing and angling communities, it is to be hoped that the traditional pattern of seasonal fisheries can be sustained for the foreseeable future.

Images from the Roa Island shore walk (August 14th 2013)

August 15th, 2013

Presented by Lewis Bambury at Capernwray Dive Centre, this talk reviewed some of the photographs taken on the shore walk at Roa Island in July, and put this into the broader context of our previous surveys of this area.

Parasite Lernaeenicus sprattae shown on a juvenile spratt, and after removal

The parasite Lernaeenicus sprattae shown on a juvenile spratt, and after removal

One of our mystery organisms (pictured) was a parasite on one of the juvenile spratts caught in the rock pools. Lewis had narrowed it down to probably being a copepod, and this was confirmed by David Fenwick and Mike Moon, who identified the species as Lernaeenicus sprattae. Commonly seen on Spratts in UK waters, it gets its name from its preferred feeding mode, attached to the eye of the unfortunate fish. Extensive parasitism is possible, and this can result in considerable deterioration in the health of individual fish. The two green appendages are egg sacks.

Some of the other organisms featured in the talk are shown int he gallery below, alongside some photos taken underwater on the same site:

Roa Island Shore Walk

July 25th, 2013

Group on the shore at Roa

We had a very enjoyable visit to the beach at Roa Island on 24th August July, the weather was super, the water (fairly) warm, and there was plenty to see; so a great success! We will be looking at some of the photos taken at our meeting in August (see our diary for up to date details), and putting these into context of our long-standing interest in the marine life at Roa, and the Bay area in general.

Thanks to everyone for coming along – we look forward to seeing you again in August!

Death of Ron Crosby

June 26th, 2013
Photo of Ron Crosby.

Photo of Ron Crosby on the summit of Ben Nevis in 2006 during the 3-Peaks challenge, a fund raising event for National MCS.

We are sorry to announce that Ron Crosby, a  founder member of the Marine Conservation Society, and Chairman of the Lancashire Area Group for many years, passed away on Sunday evening (23rd June 2013) after a short illness.

He was a driving force behind the group for some years, and we will miss his enthusiasm, knowledge and unrivaled experience of diving in the UK. He was also active in a number of globally significant marine wildlife conservation projects, particularly that in the Chagos Islands.

Our thoughts are with his wife Rita, also a staunch supporter of the group, and his family.

Roa Island dive 19th June 2013

June 20th, 2013

Roa lifeboat station and Piel Island at sunset just after HW

Above: Photograph of the Roa Island lifeboat station at sunset, with Piel Castle in the background, taken Wednesday 19 June 2013

Our next monthly meeting will take place at Roa Island, a site which has been visited and surveyed by our group for at least twenty years! The meeting, from 18:30 on Wednesday 24 July, is an informal shore walk to coincide with an exceptionally low tide, so we hope to see a lot of sea life exposed on the beach and in small pools that we would normally have to dive so see.

Just so the divers aren’t left out, we have a small number of high water dives planned in the run up to the shore walk*. The first of these was on the 19th June in near perfect conditions. Diving close by the pier and lifeboat station we saw a number of the same creatures underwater, that we will get to see exposed in a few weeks time.

At our August meeting (back at Capernwray Dive Centre) we hope to bring together the shore walk and dives (and maybe earlier survey work) to get a ‘hands on’ picture of life above and below the tide at this very interesting local site.

Please note: The walk in July is suitable for (accompanied) children, but be aware that the beach is very muddy, and you should wear shoes or boots that you are happy to get wet and dirty. If you bring a camera – best to have an underwater housing for it in case… You are free to explore, but most people stay within site of the pier, so it is not important if you arrive late.

Journey time from Lancaster – about one and a half hours, all welcome!

* Please note that dives at Roa Island are very dependent upon the weather, so there are a number of possible dates in the diary that we shall ‘cherry pick’ from…

Calendar for 2013-14

June 17th, 2013

We’ve got our new calendar online, covering September 2013 through to April 2014. As yet the Roa island dives are not in the calendar, but the first possibility is for Wednesday 19th June, meeting at about 19:30 BST. The weather is looking a little iffy for this with wind swinging round to the NW for Wednesday. Well get other dates online asap.

We have a possible trip to Lochaline in May 2014. This trip is usually for five nights with a mix of divers and non-divers, but to run this we really need 10 people (sleeping 2 or 4 to a room), and to get a good date we’ll need to book soon, so if you are interested please contact Barry!

MCS diary for 2013-14

Beachclean June 2013

Also, a big thank you to everyone who came along on Sunday for the beach clean and litter survey! Data is being processed, and hopefully we’ll get a short report on that in the next meeting.

Just beyond the Bay (12th June 2013)

June 14th, 2013

Presented by Lewis Bambury and Gordon Fletcher of the local area group, these talks on the 12 June 2013 at Capernwray Dive Centre looked at some typical dive sites in the North West of England.

Gordon introduced the topic with reference to the local geology, which was completely re-modelled by the last ice age. Offshore this leaves three dominant ecosystems – extended, shallow, muddy plains dotted with the remains of drumlins which provide a scatter of ill-sorted boulders and pebbles, plus the Lune Deeps – a U-shaped glacial valley that reaches depths in excess of 60m. The fine sediments make for difficult diving conditions, as witnessed by Lewis’ introductory slide, and a diver interested in marine life needs to acclimatise to an environment that is nearly monochrome, covered in a fine silt that lifts into an impenetrable veil with the slightest fin kick.

Above: approximate location of the Hebe at the entrance of the channel to Preston Docks.

The ecosystems, while shallow, are dominated by animal life due to the fine suspended silt that cuts off the sunlight needed by seaweed. The mud is inhabited by secretive, burrowing worms, molluscs and crustacea – species we don’t see on most popular dive sites. Where a solid substrate is provided either by a wreck, or by a boulder scatter, the species mix is dominated by hornwrack (a common find on the strand-line around the Bay), with sponges, anemones and hydroids also being abundant. Lewis’ photos showed the dramatic difference between the mud plains and the site of the Hebe, a steamship stranded on Horse Bank 11th December 1911, with the plains apparently featureless with the odd worm-cast, starfish or antenna hinting at the presence of life beneath the surface, whilst the old iron plates of the Hebe bloomed with a profusion of plumose anemones, with mussels and hydroids filling any available gap.

Lewis thanked Darwen Sub Aqua Cub (based near Blackburn) for inviting him to join them on visits to the Hebe and the Lune Deeps.

The talk was prefaced by a short introduction to our beach-clean program by Jo Kaye. The next beach cleans at Half Moon Bay are scheduled for Sunday 16th June and Saturday 21st September 2013.

See our diary for full details.