The coolest story in this issue is the all seeing-eye that sea-urchins apparently have, using light sensitive detectors on the tips of each of their tube feet, which are distributed all around their body! Less good is the prediction of a global marine mass extinction event. Otherwise, a few groups are publishing genetic studies increasing our understanding of how marine organisms biomineralise carbonates. Quite imporant given the expected increase in ocean acidification.
Seven members of the group spent an interesting long weekend at the end of June in the very popular area around Oban. Weather conditions were quite mixed, but we did manage to avoid the showers. A number of dives took place including one on a rocky reef in the inner basin of Loch Creran, then north to the spectacular submarine wall in Loch Linnhe near Kentallon. We also made a visit to the littledived Loch Feochan just a few miles few miles south of Oban. The chart indicated that we could expect to see a lot of mud. The mud was part of the attraction, would we find sea pens and large anemones. From the easy access point, a lay-by right alongside the loch we swam over stones and pebbles covered with various green and brown seaweeds, then onto the gently sloping mud. There were occasional boulders covered with mussels, then at about four metres deep were dozens of the sea slug Philine aperta and the small almost transparent sacks of their eggs. Continuing down the slope to about six and a half metres below the surface where hundreds of sea pens Virgularia mirabilis covered the sea bed. This was only a quick look at a loch that I feel has much more to offer. Many thanks to Jo and Barry Kaye for organising a very enjoyable weekend.
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