A big thanks to everyone who came along to our meeting, ‘Loch Sunart and the Isle of Gigha’ on the 14th November, which looked at the life in two very different post-glacial marine-scapes. Gordon did an excellent job exploring some of the fascinating life in Loch Sunart, which included flame shells (photo. above by Gordon Fletcher) and hard corals.
The life around Gigha might be described as prosaic – almost terrestrial in that is is dominated by large marine plants (though this is unusual for a marine ecosystem!). It did, however, open up a brief discussion about invasive species, led by observations of wireweed (Sargassum muticum) and Codium (tomentosum/fragilis). The problem with introduced species is that they are extremely difficult to remove once established, and the process of removal may be damaging to many other species in the area. For Codium, studies suggest that our native species are not being overwhelmed. Wireweed is hard to ignore, being a large spreading kelp species, but is also being colonised by local wildlife; so while it clearly competes with native species, it also presents opportunities for local wildlife. The final picture, I felt, was of quite a healthy mix of marine plant and animal species around the island.
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
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.
I will be trying to be there for 6pm at the latest. Weather forecast is fine, but the temperature is not that thrilling for August so bring plenty of layers (at least one more than you think you will need!) as the shore is exposed to whatever wind is blowing at the time. The shore here can be muddy in places so bring clothes and footwear that you don’t mind getting mucky.
I’m looking forward to seeing the shore here for the first time since the swim last year. You may be surprised at what can be seen.
The MCS had a stall at the Catch The Wind Kite Festival in Morecambe for the first time this year. The event had good weather, and there were a lot of people passing through, listening to music, or admiring the kites. We had quite a few people drop in on the stall, and I was pleased to see that many of the kites were marine themed, including an octopus and a pair of blue whales!
We are very grateful to the event organisers MoreMusic for providing us with space at this event, and to Kathy for enthusiastically manning our stand!
Above: Red (green and blue) herrings flying above the promenade at Morecambe during the kite festival, June 2015.
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!
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:
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.
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!