The national SeaSearch project aims to gather information on seabed habitats and associated marine wildlife in Britain and Ireland through the participation of volunteer recreational divers. It is particularly interested in gathering information where little data exists or where there is a conservation need. The Morcambe Bay European Maritime Site (EMS) encompassing the Morcambe and Duddon Bay Special Protection Areas (SPA) is one such site.
SeaSearch trains divers on how to identify and record species and habitats underwater, and then utilises that data to inform conservation requirements throughout the UK.
The Sea Search Observer Course
This is a one-day course, lasting roughly six hours, aimed at giving divers new to the project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. At the end of the course you will be able to complete SeaSearch observation forms and take part in SeaSearch dives either on your own, in buddy pairs, with your club or on dives organised by SeaSearch partners.
During the course you’ll learn about SeaSearch – its aims, history and achievements, a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in British and Irish waters, recognising and classifying marine habitats, position fixing, and how to fill in the observation form.
The day concludes with a ‘video dive’ and an opportunity to fill in a form without even getting wet!
To become a registered SeaSearch Observer you need to complete the course and participate in five real dives, two with a tutor present.
The course includes a course pack and identification guides and recording slates are available to purchase giving you everything you’ll need to go ahead and get started. The tutors are all divers themselves and keen SeaSearchers.
Courses are normally run face to face with a theory day preceding a practical wet day diving however given current circumstances initial courses can be run online
Looking ahead to next year’s diving it is hoped we can get out locally off the coast and appreciate our local wildlife perhaps providing a service at the same time. Other clubs are also engaged.
Dates for courses and dives next year are being worked up. For us to book a slot a minimum of six participants are required to run the course (on a club basis). There will be a charge of £40 per person. SeaSearch materials will be posted to you before the course. Dives to be arranged.
If you are interested in taking the course and participating in SeaSearch dives in future please let me know soonest so we can book the course and allocate a place.
A pre-course introductory talk about the activities of Sea Search and its findings is also planned.
Morcambe Bay European Maritime Site
The site includes the second largest embayment in Britain, after the Wash in Norfolk. The protected area represents the largest continuous area of intertidal mudflats and sandflats in the UK and includes several major estuaries where the river Wyre, Lune, Kent, Leven and Duddon enter the Irish Sea.
The SPA is a highly dynamic coastal and estuarine system which creates continually shifting channels, creeks and pools and the total extent, distribution and character of most subtidal and intertidal habitats are therefore subject to high levels of change over both short and long periods of time.
High numbers of various polychaete worms, bivalve molluscs, crustaceans and other invertebrates are present and contribute significantly to the diet of many bird species in the SPAs.
Areas of coarse sediment, boulders and cobbles create intertidal reefs, known locally as ‘skears’, which provide a hard substrate for dense beds of mussel that can cover large areas.
Several invertebrate species, specifically; mussel, cockle and shrimp are also of significant importance at an economic level. There is a long history of mussel, cockle and shrimp fishing, particularly in Morecambe Bay.
Marine conservancy shop –https://www.mcsuk.org/shop/index.php?route=product/category&path=72
SeaSearch home – http://www.seasearch.org.uk/