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There be prawns!

Marine Scotland Blog - Thu, 2017-06-22 10:00

Earlier, we posted information about the 7th research survey that our research vessel, the Alba na Mara was doing.On board the Scotia

Here we have the final blog from the Scientist in Charge on that survey, Adrian Weetman:

Following the long journey from Fladen to the west coast on Monday 12th June, the annual Nephrops Under Water TV Survey began working in the North Minch later the same evening – working down the west side of the North Minch and then into the South Minch, the survey was off Barra.

The half landing had originally been pencilled in for Friday 16th but we were told there would not be any available berths until Sunday 18th.This delay meant modifying the survey to ensure the vessel was fully engaged in survey work up until that point, so having re-routed the vessel and finishing the majority of stations in the South Minch by the evening of the 15th, the vessel made way for the Sound of Jura.

NephropsAs in the South Minch, a number of stations were relocated due to the presence of creels (which could become entangled with the sledge) and/or rocky, unsuitable seabed. A single trawl was carried out in the Sound of Jura after which the vessel made way for the Clyde, arriving in Kilbranan Sound very early on Saturday the 17th. After waiting on station for daylight to arrive, the area was checked for creels and with no obstacles in sight the survey continued in a clockwise direction around Aran, with a trawl in the evening of the 17th. On the 18th, the survey continued working in the south of the Clyde until the early afternoon when the 24 hour half landing took place.

At 1630 on the 19th, the vessel headed back to complete the remaining few stations in the Clyde, finishing the survey in this area in the small hours of the 20th, before heading west to survey the last few stations in the South Minch. The plan is that once this area has been completed, the numerous stations on east side of the North Minch will be surveyed before heading back east to Fladen and then onto Devils Hole before heading for Aberdeen..

Further Information

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Introducing… the new look Scotland’s environment website

Marine Scotland Blog - Thu, 2017-06-22 09:00

TSEWeb logohe SEWeb team have launched the new look Scotland’s environment website.

The new website has been designed and developed following discussion and feedback with you, our users, to find out what you want and need from this online resource. It’s still a work in progress but in this first phase release you’ll find new designs, functionality and content. By introducing new developments on a beta, or test, version of the website we can make sure we are on the right track.

Not all of the current website content and data has been added to the beta website but development will continue over the summer months, in time for a full release in early autumn this year. The current website continues to run during the beta test phase.

Their aim is to create a one-stop-shop search and discovery hub to get you to the environmental data you need, when you need it. You can be confident that the data you find and view on Scotland’s environment web is trusted, authoritative, and the most up-to-date data that is available. The also want to provide you with a quick and easy way of finding, viewing and interacting with data from multiple sources.

SEPA are always interested to hear what you think so please take a look at the new look Scotland’s environment website and get in touch with your feedback and ideas.

Further Information

The post Introducing… the new look Scotland’s environment website appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Message in a bottle

Marine Scotland Blog - Tue, 2017-06-20 07:00

 

Many of us will have spent hours as a child drawing pictures or drafting letters to stuff in a bottle, to be sent on its way from the local beach; hopefully, to be found in a far-away place (or maybe even time) by a mysterious stranger. The “message in a bottle” conjures up romantic notions of a pen pal on distant shores for many children, but for ocean scientists it used to be considered a vital measurement tool.

Rognvald Livinstone ballasting glass drift bottles before their release at seaSome of our earliest discoveries of the ocean circulation around Scotland were made thanks to this simple piece of technology. From the early 20th century, scientists put hundreds of glass bottles out at sea, to be dispersed by the local ocean currents, and hopefully to be found by a fisher or beach comber and returned to the scientists.  Inside, a card tempted the lucky finder to offer up information on where and when it was found, in return for a small reward – one shilling.  At first, they were used to measure surface circulation, but soon bottles were weighted by sand or shot to help track the near-bed currents.

Of course, despite the many bottles released – at one point 3,000 were prepared by Rognvald Livingstone (pictured right) in one year – the vast majority were never found. Of the few that were, most were returned within weeks to months, but the odd one is still found today.  On 23rd March 2017, Mr Leigh Casey found one of these drift bottles, number 248A (pictured below), in the catch of the Opportune (LK 209), a 25 m trawler skippered by Mr Ross Christie and based out of Scalloway (Shetland).  They recorded the position of their find as 61° 09.3’ N 001° 14.7’ W, where the sea is around 200 metres deep.  After talking to the crew, Mr Davie Riley – a fisheries technician at the NAFC Marine Centre in Scalloway – contacted the Oceanography Group at Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen to find out more about the bottle.

Surface drift-currents in the North Sea, as published by JB Tait in 1973

Surface drift-currents in the North Sea, as published by JB Tait in 1973

Despite the original notebooks still being kept in the library at the Marine Laboratory, each find still requires some sleuthing to find out where and when the bottle was originally released. At first glance, there didn’t appear to be any record of bottle 248A in the notebooks.  Luckily, the print-run numbers on the post cards could shed some light: the cards were originally printed in 1906, but were used in bottles released up until the next print-run in 1914.  Bottle 248A was released on 16 May 1911 at a position just 5 miles from where it was found.  These drift bottles, designed to track near-bed currents, often became trapped on the sea bed, and the more recent discoveries a century after release have often been very close to the initial release position.

For this bottle, the journey home lasted 105 years and 311 days; unfortunately still not quite the Guinness World Record for the “oldest message in a bottle”. Marine Scotland previously held this honour, but the Marine Biological Association (UK) won the record in 2015 with a bottle that spent 108 years and 138 days at sea.   Scientists at Marine Scotland remain hopeful of regaining the record, and with thousands of bottles still out at sea, it almost seems inevitable.

Bottle 248A as it was found in 2017

Bottle 248A as it was found in 2017 and its card showing instructions for the finder. The print-run number in the bottom left was key in identifying the correct release date and position. Photos courtesy of D. Riley.

 

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Latest update from the MRV Scotia survey 0717S – the 7th of the year

Marine Scotland Blog - Thu, 2017-06-15 10:32

0717S Survey AreaDuration: 6- 26 June 2017

Gear onboard:  

2 x Scotia BT175 80mm prawn trawls

2 x Day grabs and 1 x sieving table

2 x towed UWTV sledges

2 x 600m umbilical towing cables and associated TV equipment (including back up)

Objectives

  • To obtain estimates of the abundance and distribution of Nephrops burrow complexes at Fladen, in the North Minch, the South Minch, the Firth of Clyde, in the Sound of Jura and at Devil’s Hole.
  • To use the TV footage to record the occurrence of other benthic fauna as well as evidence of commercial trawl activity.
  • To collect sediment samples at each station.
  • To  obtain samples of Nephrops for size composition analysis.
  • To collect samples of Nephrops from the trawls for comparison of reproductive condition and morphometrics in each of the different survey areas (Functional Units).
  • To record and retain marine litter obtained from trawling as part of the MSFD.

Procedures

The main areas in which the survey will take place have been surveyed on annual basis for a number of years and are shown in Figure 1. A combination of two approaches will be used to derive the survey positions: a stratified random approach and fixed stations.  The majority of stations will be generated by employing the traditional stratified random technique based on sediment distribution in all areas except the North Minch, where stations will be randomly generated within the boundaries of commercial Nephrops fishing effort, obtained from Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data.  Alternatively, at the Devils Hole, as well as within some of the other survey areas, deployments will be carried out at a number of fixed sites.

Weather permitting, it is planned that the vessel will first carry out a training session in deploying the sledge en route to the Fladen grounds. Initially approximately 450m of the TV cable will be paid out with a large buoy attached to the end of the cable to be lowered into the water.  This will add back tension to the cable on recovery, creating tighter turns on the winch and reducing the potential for damaging the cable.  The sledge will then be attached to the umbilical to carry out a training session where the sledge will be shot, approximately 100 m of cable paid out and then recovered.  When this procedure is completed to the satisfaction of all involved, the vessel will then progress to the first of the Nephrops burrow TV stations at the SW edge of the Fladen ground.  Once the work at Fladen has been completed, the vessel will then steam to the west coast and to begin surveying stations in the North and South Minches.

It is anticipated that the vessel will work south along the western side of the Minches towards the Clyde, surveying TV sites and carrying out trawls as required.

The survey will continue on into the Sound of Jura, followed by the remaining South and North Minch stations whilst working north.

At each TV station a video camera mounted on to the sledge will be towed along the seabed for approximately ten minutes at approximately 1 knot and in to the tide – the ship’s dynamic positioning will be required for this. Nephrops burrows observed, individual Nephrops and other benthic fauna will be recorded onto DVD for analysis.  The depth and distance travelled by the sledge, as well as camera height from the seabed, will be recorded automatically.  Where practical sediment samples will be taken using the mini van Veen grab mounted on the sledge.

Update from Adrian Weetman, the Scientist in Charge

Scotia left Aberdeen in the morning of 6th June 2017 and headed out to Fladen to begin the annual Underwater TV Survey. Over the following few days, 70 stations were surveyed and one trawl was carried out in generally, favourable conditions. Some technical difficulties were experienced during this time which were either resolved or alternative arrangements made. These problems, as well as a storm through the night of the 7th which restricted TV operations, initially resulted in delaying the survey, but good progress was made over all and in the early hours of Monday the 12th the vessel began the journey west. En route, Scotia made a port call at Scrabster, where the workboat was put ashore to collect replacement parts for one of the faulty systems onboard. With the engineers working hard to repair the faults, the vessel continued west arriving at the first station in the North Minch in the early evening of the 12th. The survey continued working south down the west side of the North Minch with few issues and was off Harris by 10:00 the following morning, and completed the North Minch leg mid afternoon later that same day. After a three hour steam south work began in the South Minch in the evening of Tuesday 13th and continued working south towards Barra during the 14th, in worsening weather conditions.

Further Information

The post Latest update from the MRV Scotia survey 0717S – the 7th of the year appeared first on Marine Scotland.

New report published about bird and mammal displacement with wave and tidal energy devices

Marine Scotland Blog - Tue, 2017-06-13 09:19

Flying gullAs the offshore marine renewables industry grows, understanding the way that marine species may respond to the installation and operation of wave and tidal energy devices is of particular importance. Recently, extensive research and effort has gone into furthering our understanding of potential implications of deploying these devices into Scottish waters. However, several questions still remain as to whether deployment of these devices is likely to have an impact on the distribution and abundance of marine wildlife in the vicinity of the devices.

Since 2005, a wide range of wave and tidal energy devices have been tested by developers at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Running alongside device testing, has been the Wildlife Observation Programme which has collected detailed records on marine mammal and birds present at sea, in and around the test berths. The land-based observer data collected at EMEC has been extensive with over 11 years of data from the tidal energy site, Falls of Warness, and six years at the wave energy test site, Billia Croo.

To understand how these renewable energy technologies influence marine wildlife, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Marine Scotland and EMEC commissioned a detailed investigation into how species distribution and numbers had varied across the test site, relative to different levels of site activity.

The study found little evidence of long-term effects on use of the surrounding seas by birds and marine mammals as a result of the installation and operation of wave and tidal devices at the test sites. The following provides a summary of the main findings:

  • No significant changes in wildlife distribution were detected around the test berths at the wave energy test site at Billia Croo.
  • Observations at the tidal test site, Falls of Warness, showed slightly reduced numbers in some species (e.g., great northern diver, cormorants, shags, various auk species, ducks and geese) in the vicinity of the test berths after construction work started. However, in all cases this returned to previous levels during subsequent deployment and operation of the turbines. It is therefore possible that increased vessel activity associated with installation is likely to be causing this change in distribution.
  • For most other species, no such pattern of change around the Falls of Warness test berths could be discerned.
  • The observations used in this study were made from land overlooking the test sites, so possible wildlife interactions with turbines below the sea surface, were not determined.

Further Information

The post New report published about bird and mammal displacement with wave and tidal energy devices appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Freshwater Fisheries Open Day a success

Marine Scotland Blog - Mon, 2017-06-05 14:39

Reading scalesOn 13th May, colleagues from the Freshwater Fisheries laboratory at Faskally in Pitlochry held an Open Day at the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry.

The day included and series of six talks that were held in the morning and afternoon, with more than 30 posters and films on show throughout the day. There were also practical exhibits including plankton from our outstation in Shieldaig, using ultrasound to determine the gender of trout, invertebrate identification, river mapping and fish scale reading.

The art of capturing trout by electrofishing was demonstrated in the Japanese Garden and radio tracking techniques were shown using dummy fish hidden among the trees. Genetics was simplified to a double helix of jelly babies and cocktail sticks and Bernie Martin’s stunning new film of the salmon life cycle (7 years in the making) was shown every hour followed by lively question sessions with topics ranging from the technicalities of filming hatching fish to the evolutionary history of migration in salmon, and much in between.

Visitors included school children (entertained by custom-designed quizzes) anglers, amateur naturalists, fisheries managers, teachers, professional scientists and those others with a curiosity in what happens in the Lab by the loch. John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, and many other attendees enthused about their visits, and some who had come for an hour stayed for much of the day.

Photos from the day have been turned in to a short storyboard and  more pictures are available on the Marine Scotland Flickr site.

Further Information

The post Freshwater Fisheries Open Day a success appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Westra (1975 - 2007)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Westra (1975 - 2007)

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:copyright: Crown copyright 2017

Vigilant IV (1982 - 2008)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Vigilant IV (1982 - 2008)

Marine Scotland

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Vigilant III (1935 - 1983)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

Marine Scotland Image Bank posted a photo:

Vigilant III (1935 - 1983)

Marine Scotland

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Vigilant II (1897 - 1936)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Vigilant II (1897 - 1936)

Marine Scotland

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Vaila II (1947 - 1957)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Vaila II (1947 - 1957)

Marine Scotland

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Ulva (1958 - 1972)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Ulva (1958 - 1972)

Marine Scotland

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Sulisker (1981 - 2005)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Sulisker (1981 - 2005)

Marine Scotland

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Temora (2003 - present day)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Temora (2003 - present day)

Marine Scotland

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Switha (1970 - 1980)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Switha (1970 - 1980)

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Rona II (1938 - 1971)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Rona II (1938 - 1971)

Marine Scotland

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Rona I (1924 - 1933)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Rona I (1924 - 1933)

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Shearwater (1968 - 1979)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Shearwater (1968 - 1979)

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Scotia IV (1998 - to present day)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Scotia IV (1998 - to present day)

Marine Scotland

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Scotia III (1971 - 1991)

Marine Scotland Photos - Thu, 2017-06-01 16:42

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Scotia III (1971 - 1991)

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