Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Proof that Marine Community engagement works!

Through Cornwall Wildlife Trusts Your shore Project , and PANACHE project huge numbers of adults and children have been educated about the wonderful marine life around our coasts.

John Hepburn (from the Wembury Voluntary Marine Conservation Area) recently wrote in to to provide us with an example of how our marine events are raising the awareness of Cornwall's youngsters!

Do people learn at the VMCAs?
 The simple answer is yes, as the following story shows.
 The Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter Trust takes disabled children day sailing from Mayflower Marina in Plymouth in the Tamar and Sound in “Cornubia,” a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter, restored and recreated as a classic yacht.  The day’s not just about sailing – only enough for them to work together to the best of their capabilities to improve their confidence and team-working ability.  The day’s also about learning about the marine environment and maritime activities.  The children start the day looking at life on the pontoons using a microscope connected to a TV, which is also used later in the day to examine plankton which they have trawled for.  They also get a guide to help them spot and record the marine life they may see.  In order to demonstrate that people are learning during the day they answer two questions at the beginning of the day, and again at the end:  “On a scale of 1 – 9, how much do you think you know about the ocean and what lives in it?” and, “How much do you think you know about what people do with the ocean?”
 Doubletrees School in Par (www.doubletrees.cornwall.sch.uk) caters for those with severe and complex learning difficulties.  With funding from the West Cornwall Youth Trust (http://westcornwallyouthtrust.org) they are able to send several groups a year on these trips. Last year one group’s reply to the first question at the beginning of the day was two 9s, an 8 and a 7.  “Wow, where did you guys learn so much?”  “We’ve been to Polzeath, we learnt about everything there.”  So there you have it – proof that Polzeath works!
As a footnote, at the end of the day, the student with 7 went up to an 8.  One of the teachers, who also assessed herself as a 7, went down to 5, having learnt that she didn’t know as much as she thought she did!

Doubletrees students deploy the plankton net! - Photo John Hepburn 
Brittlestar larvae and Calanus copepods were found! Photo - John Hepburn

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Looe Island, a magical place

Go on.... you know you want to make a visit!! 
This years annual Looe Island survey and campover for Looe VMCA volunteers and CWT marine staff was once again a magical couple of days. Thanks to John and Claire for welcoming us all and thanks to Abby for her fantastic organisation skills! 

Unfortunately due to the mega shoresearch weekend I was too knackered to make the sleep over but got there in time for a huge low tide and to take part in the annual transect survey! Having 2 teams of low water surveyors really made it a pleasure as the onerous quadrats can otherwise make it extremely difficult to fit in an entire survey into one tide! 
Thanks for your help to Cheryl Wiseman, Martin gregory, Sue Pybus and Cat Wilding for your fantastic company and skills! 

The shore on the sheltered side of Looe island is incredibly rich in seaweed and a myriad of incredible creatures can be found among them. There are deep cracks in the rock full of sea squirts and pink plates and the pink encrusted slates on the lower shore hide a myriad of creatures. 
Sue and Cat  on the lower shore - note the fantastic weather!! 

Juvenile squat lobster - this is the second one we found this summer with this unusual white stripe down the back- the other was found on the night rockpooling at Marazion a few days before! Note the massive eyes!! Galatea squamifera

this tiny pheasant shell can be identified by its shape and its white calcified operculum 

Toothed crab - Pirimela denticulata - note the large spine 'tooth' on front of shell. Only the second one I have ever seen! 

Closeup of a worm pipefish

Snorkelling on the Hannafore side of the island the channel is full of non native seaweeds - large stands of Sargassum muticum and big clumps of harpoon weed Asparagpsis armata.