By Sarah Ward and Ella Garrud
Living Seas Officers
We have finally reached the end of 2020, and what a year it has been for all the wrong reasons. Due to the pandemic we sadly had to cancel almost all of our events and marine recording activities up and down the Sussex coast.
We were lucky enough to get out and about on the shore a few times over the summer to create some videos for National Marine Week, such as this one about cuttlefish, a firm favourite species amongst our marine team: And this one about crabs:
We were also able to run one Shoresearch survey in September in between the national lockdowns, on the intertidal zone at Saltdean with a small group of volunteers. Many common species were recorded, including lots of green shore crabs, common periwinkles and an abundance of bladder wrack.
Shore crab © Barry Yates
On one occasion at the rock pools, we came across a couple of juvenile bib, also known as pouting (Trisopterus luscus). This species of fish are related to cod and are usually found much further out to sea in shoals around ship wrecks. These two had probably got too close to shore and then got trapped in a tide pool as the sea retreated at low water. It was very interesting to see them up close when they are usually too far out to be spotted.
One of our regular Shoresearch volunteers, Keith Alexander, made an interesting discovery in Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne. He found a species of skeleton shrimp, which he sent to the Natural History Museum to identify it. They in turn sent it to Portugal for DNA analysis and it was found to be the species Caprella scaura sensu. Keith’s finding is only the second recorded in Britain – the first one was also recorded at the same location in 2009. The species is invasive, a native from the Indian Ocean which is being recorded in European waters more and more frequently. This significant spread is likely due to shipping activity, and the full implications of the spread of this species on our local marine ecosystems are not yet known. Many thanks to Keith for sharing his records with us and for his dedication to marine recording in the area.
Although we were not able to run any group surveys this year, we were delighted to receive some Seasearch survey forms from our volunteers, who undertook surveys during their independent scuba diving time. We received eight forms from various sites including the Indiana Wreck, off Worthing, and a handful of sights off Selsey. Although trends are hard to identify from few surveys, the data helps us to monitor key species and sites, and is also feeding into the Help Our Kelp project and ongoing monitoring of Marine Conservation Zones. Many thanks to those keen volunteers who sent us in data.
We hope to recommence our marine surveying in 2021 and look forward to seeing some of you at the coast,