The marine life of the first Morecambe Bay – 350 million years ago!

A talk by Trevor Lund on Wednesday 13th March 2024 at 19:30

 Artist's impression of the Bay 350 MYA – spot the mistakes! Image by Mark Woombs/Adobe AI.

Above: Artist’s impression of the Bay 350 MYA – spot the mistakes! Image by Mark Woombs/Adobe AI.

The area that is now Morecambe Bay was covered in sea once before during the Carboniferous geological period. In this talk we look at the evidence for this in the rocks and fossils of the Bay area. We look at how geologists have used modern marine environments to work out the ecosystems and environments of the past. It is surprising how these marine creatures were adapted in a similar way to their modern equivalents, to survive and flourish in the same kind of environment.

Poster: 202403 The Bay 350MYA PDF format 215kB.

At Lancaster Maritime Museum, Custom House, St George’s Quay, Lancaster, LA1 1RB
£4 donation requested to Lancashire MCS
Everybody Welcome!

Posted: February 28th, 2024
Posted in Events, MCS talks

How are salt marshes helping to protect the North West coast

A talk by Joseph Earl (Morecambe Bay Partnership) on Wednesday 14th February 2024 at 19:30:

Our Future Coast - Restoring Saltmarshes

Above: Restoring our salt marshes is an initiative of the Our Future Coast project.

Driven by climate change, coastal areas globally are facing increased risks of flooding and erosion. We’ll explore the crucial role that natural coastal environments like saltmarshes, found extensively around Morecambe Bay, could play in protecting people and places from climate change into the future.

Joseph’s talk will highlight the unique ecological and coastal defence value of saltmarshes and discover how we can better support and manage them. He will introduce a series of case studies around Morecambe Bay where saltmarsh is being restored through the Our Future Coast project, part of DEFRA’s national flood and coastal resilience innovation programme.

Poster: 202402 Saltmarsh Restoration (222kB PDF format).

At Lancaster Maritime Museum, Custom House, St George’s Quay, Lancaster, LA1 1RB
£4 donation requested to Lancashire MCS
Everybody Welcome!

Posted: January 24th, 2024
Posted in Events, MCS talks

Beyond the tearoom, the wildlife of the Small Isles (Muck, Eigg, Rum, Canna) and Knoydart

A talk by Mark Woombs (Lancashire MCS)

Wildlife of the small isles

Does the Isle of Muck have the best tearoom in the Hebrides? Come along to Wednesday’s’ talk to find out and look at the amazing marine wildlife that lives around the the Small Isles and the surrounding area.

At Lancaster Maritime Museum on Wednesday 10th January 2024 at 19:30

Posted: January 7th, 2024
Posted in Events, MCS talks

Christmas Quiz 2024

Midland Hotel in snow
Snow on the iconic Midland Hotel in Morecambe, by Lewis Bambury November 2021.

The return of our annual Christmas quiz, with more fiendish and fun questions prepared by Lewis to test your knowledge of current, local and maritime trivia…

Christmas quiz poster (327 kB PDF)

Posted: November 28th, 2023
Posted in Events

The Azolla story: How an amazing plant changed our climate

A talk by Alexandra and Jonathan Bujak (Azolla Foundation)

Carp and ducks eating azolla in China. A fisherman is collecting azolla to feed his livestock.
Above: Carp and ducks eating azolla in China. A fisherman is collecting azolla to feed his livestock. Image rendered by Victor Leshyk from the cover of ‘The Azolla Story’.

49 million years ago a plant called azolla covered the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Azolla Event lasted 1.2 million years, during which time azolla sequestered enormous quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere, and moved our planet’s climate from a greenhouse world to the ice-age climate, with permanent ice and snow at both poles…

If you would like to know more, The Azolla Story: A message from the future by Jonathan Bujak and Alexandra Bujak is available from Amazon.

Alternative Zoom meeting details are available through our Newsletter – you can subscribe here.

All are welcome, we request a donation of £4 to cover costs of room hire and speaker expenses.

Wednesday 11th January 2023 at 19:30 at Lancaster Maritime Museum.

Posted: January 5th, 2023
Posted in Events, Marine science update, MCS talks, Science

Crustacea in the Bay!

On the 23rd July 2022, Mark and Caitlin Woombs, Jean Wilson, Lewis and myself dived deep into our collections to present a course on Crustacea to the Royal Society of Biology as guests of the Wyre Estuary Country Park. The course started with a general introduction to marine crustacea – one of the most diverse groups of animals on the planet – by Mark. This was followed by a maze building experiment, overseen by Caitlin, to show how simple experiments demonstrate that shore crabs can learn quite complex tasks.

Above: Carapace widths of Carcinas maenas, showing the cut-off at 35mm, indicating the current maximum size of this year’s young shore crabs.

Jean had gathered large numbers of shore crab moults from the beach at Knott End, which were used to see how the population is developing through the early part of the year. The rough graph of carapace widths, produced during the practical session, is reproduced above.

I updated an old presentation on ‘Colour underwater’ to look more specifically at sensory perception in crustacea – a fascinating field that I think went down OK, and I hope I can revisit in our winter lecture series later this year. Finally, Lewis tied the afternoon off with a review of all things crustacean in the form of a quiz. How many legs has it got?

Above: The light hearted crustaceans quiz, presented by Lewis (right) with Mark dressed as a lobster!

Thanks to Jean for organising, and to Alison Boden and the staff at the Wyre Estuary Country Park for making us very welcome!

Barry Kaye, Lancashire MCS

Posted: August 2nd, 2022
Posted in Events, MCS talks

Loch Sunart, an underwater journey, by Mark Woombs

At the George and Dragon, Wednesday November 10th at 19:30. Donations requested to Lancashire MCS.

Loch Sunart marine life montage by Mark Woombs

Photograph above: Designated a Marine Protected area to protect (bottom images from left to right) flame shells, Northern feather stars and serpulid worms; the protection of Loch Sunart has allowed the recovery of species such as the spur dog, a relative of the catshark (top). All photos by Mark Woombs

Join marine biologist Mark Woombs as he explores the underwater life of Loch Sunart; from the Sound of Mull to the sheltered waters at the head of the Loch by Strontian (the only town in the world to have a chemical element named after it!). Loch Sunart has been designated as a ‘Scottish Marine Protected Area’, and features a wide range of habitats that are home to some of the most interesting and colourful marine life in British waters.

Please help prevent the spread of COVID by taking a Lateral Flow Test on the morning before joining us!

Posted: October 26th, 2021
Posted in Events, MCS talks, Science

GB Beach Clean 2021

Beach cleaners at Half Moon Bay, Heysham

A big thanks to everyone who turned out on Sunday for the MCS Great British Beach Clean at Half Moon Bay, Heysham. Despite the downpour just before the event we had a good turn out – and the weather turned warm and sunny! Again the beach was pretty clean, allowing us to clean the entire length of the beach down to the high tide mark, collecting only 3.2kg of litter. This did, however, included some sanitary waste – wet-wipes, panty liners, ear cleaners and dog poo, so there is still room for improvement! National MCS will collect all of the data and publish it on their website.

Our next beach clean will be in early December, but we have a short set of winter talks planned starting before then, in November. If you would like to keep up to date with activities, please sign up for our Newsletter:

Subscribe to (or unsubscribe from) the Lancashire MCS Newsletter

We do not share subscription details with anyone else without your prior permission; you can unsubscribe at any time through the link at the foot of the Newsletter, or through the subscribe/unsubscribe page above (and linked from all pages on our website).

Report by Barry Kaye

Posted: September 30th, 2021
Posted in Beach Clean, Events, litter

Roa Island Shore Walk July 2021

Discarded fishing line.
Discarded fishing line – sadly our first find…

Our first Roa Island shore walk this year took place on Saturday 24th July.  Understandably, given the late decision to hold this, turnout was lower than normal but 5 of us had an interesting time scouring the shore for life. Sadly the first find of any interest was 30-40m of discarded fishing line tangled in the wrack under the walkway to lifeboat station. This took about 20 minutes of patient work to disentangle it so that it could be taken away for disposal. Thankfully the rest of the beach was relatively clear of litter!

Pacific oysters (Crassostrea Gigas). Photo Lewis Bambury.
Pacific oysters (Crassostrea Gigas)

We saw quite a large number of Pacific oysters Crassostrea Gigas (sometimes known as Portuguese Oyster).  These are a non-native commercial species; it’s possible that they have originated from oyster farms in the Menai Straits, although there is an oyster hatchery on Walney Island that puts some immature stock in the Bay to grow on before selling them on to other farms to mature and this may be the source too.

Dislodged sponge, photo Lewis Bambury.
Dislodged sponge

It was noticeable that there were quite a few large pieces of dislodged sponge and sea squirts, probably from deeper water, at the low water line.  It wasn’t clear how these had been dislodged, whether it was manmade disturbance – we didn’t see a dredger while we were there for instance – or a natural process, but it did bring some species to view that we may not have seen otherwise.  For instance these Oaten Pipe hydroids (Tubularia indivisa) living on one of the detached sponges.

Mysid shrimp. Photo Lewis Bambury.
Mysid shrimp captured in a shallow water trawl. Photo Lewis Bambury.

Barry tried some plankton trawls in the shallows where large numbers of mysid shrimp and small (juvenile) fish were swimming against the incomming tide, hoping for it to bring them supper! Microscopic examination revealed a phytoplankton community dominated by pennate diatoms (Proboscia alatum and Rhizosolenia sp.), though we did see one centric diatom Odontella mobiliensis. The trawl also contained some lanceolate Naviculacea (Pleurosigma sp. – probably angulatum), and one example of Bacillaria paxillifera; these are typically benthic/surface dwelling diatoms, but very commony found in shallow water trawls. There were also a number of periwinkle (Littorina littorea) eggs and newly hatched ‘velligers’. Juvenile periwinkles (the ‘velligers’) are planktonic, and use cillia covered extensions of their ‘foot’ (called a ‘vellum’) to swim. This mode of propulsion is very effective in the smaller juveniles, allowing them to make respectable swimming speeds (Olympic qualifiers – for ther size!) as they actively hunt for food, which is usually smaller zooplankton.

Periwinkle egg about to hatch. Micrograph by Barry Kaye.
Periwinkle egg containing two velliger embryos – very close to hatching! Micrograph by Barry Kaye.

Lockdown has meant that the best tides for this have passed us by this year, but this was the first of two dates that we picked as having the chances of interesting finds.  The timing of Spring tides around Morecambe Bay means that the very lowest tides – when we have the best chance of finding some of the creatures that are normally hidden – happen around 6 or 7 am, of 6 or 7 pm, so daylight times are a factor in choosing dates too. 

Our next walk is on the calendar for Wednesday 8th September at 19:00 (Low water 0.95m at 19:42, just before sunset).

Report by Lewis Bambury with additions on microscopy by Barry Kaye.

Posted: July 29th, 2021
Posted in Events, Science, Shore walks

Online Marine Life ID courses

As we are not able to hold our usual winter meetings, we have been looking into moving these online. These meetings are by invitation through our newsletter (you can subscribe here).

Our first meeting (on Wednesday the 2nd December) will be:

Echinus esculentus by Mark Woombs
The sea urchin Echinus esculentus, photo by Mark Woombs

Prickly customers – your online guide to echinoderms! by Mark Woombs. (Please note that invitations to this meeting went out in our December newsletter).

Planned future meetings include:

  • The lives of Jellyfish by Gordon Fletcher
  • Identification of phytoplankton by Barry Kaye
  • Crustacea by Lewis Bambury

Barry Kaye

Posted: November 24th, 2020
Posted in Events, MCS talks