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Keeping track at Armadale: Update one from the tracking project

Fri, 2017-07-21 10:00

YSmolt tagou might remember that at the beginning of July, we told you about a new salmon tracking project that was happening in the north of Scotland.

Tagging started on 7 July and by 14th July,  we had tagged 36 grilse. tagging will continue in to Autumn-time and we will keep you updated with progress.

Further Information


The post Keeping track at Armadale: Update one from the tracking project appeared first on Marine Scotland.

STEM Students becoming Careerwise

Wed, 2017-07-19 10:00

Kelly and Ana Careerwise Students

Always keen to invest in new talent, and promote women in science, Marine Scotland has taken on two students for two twelve-week placements under Equate Scotland’s Careerwise scheme.  Careerwise is a partnership between industry and academia to:

  • encourage the participation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas;
  • increase awareness of STEM occupations as viable career options for women; and
  • increase employability skills in its participants.

Both placements are within the Fishery Analysis and Assessment Group of Marine Scotland Science; reporting on best practice for monitoring, control and surveillance for discards, and looking at the precision and accuracy of CCTV monitoring systems.

Welcome to both Kelly and Anastasia; we hope you enjoy your time with us and look forward to reviewing your findings and progress.


The post STEM Students becoming Careerwise appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Exercise SAXON WARRIOR 17: 1 and 10 August 2017

Wed, 2017-07-19 10:00

Exercise SAXON WARRIOR 17 (SW17) will take place between 1 and 10 August 2017, delivered by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) from Faslane. The coordination of the administration and safety will be arranged in a similar way to a JOINT WARRIOR exercise.

SW17 is a programme of exercises conducted across the UK by warships, submarines and aircraft from 5 Nations.  The maritime and air activity will be focussed in the airspace, offshore and coastal waters of the whole coast of Scotland and to a lesser extent South West Approaches to the UK.  The booklet below provides outline information on scheduled activity including details of intended gunnery and aircraft bombing activity at Cape Wrath.

Further Information

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IA2017 – Benthic habitats affected by bottom fisheries

Mon, 2017-07-17 10:00

Benthic Habitats

OSPAR is committed to protecting and conserving ecosystems and biodiversity through the management of human activities and is guided by an ecosystem-based approach. Benthic habitats play a key role in marine ecosystems because marine species rely directly or indirectly on the seafloor to feed, hide, rest or reproduce.

The last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010) highlighted a range of human activities with physical impacts on benthic habitats. Focus was given to the impact of benthic fishing on seabed habitats and associated benthic communities, especially on the continental shelf and in vulnerable marine ecosystems in the deep seas.

The development of a regional-scale assessment on physical disturbance from bottom contacting fishing since the QSR 2010 is a major step forward in assessing the scale of this impact. An important initial step towards this assessment was a first region-wide mapping of fishing pressure in 2013, which has since been updated annually. These data have now been combined with region-wide information on the distribution and sensitivity of benthic habitats. A first OSPAR assessment of physical disturbance from bottom trawling is now presented, which shows that 86% of the assessed areas in the Greater North Sea and the Celtic Seas are physically disturbed, of which 58% is highly disturbed. Consistent fishing pressure occurs in 74% of all assessed areas, which is very likely to affect the ability of habitats to recover.

Bottom fishing pressure is one of several pressures that need to be taken into consideration in assessing the cumulative effects of human activity on benthic habitats. In future, this indicator will be developed to include pressures other than bottom fishing.

Alongside this assessment, a new multi-metric approach has been developed to assess the condition of benthic habitats in relation to the full range of pressures, including from other human activities. First assessments under this approach examine the condition of coastal habitats in response to nutrient and organic enrichment and species diversity in subtidal sediments in the southern North Sea in response to physical disturbance caused by fishing.

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Scallop Dredging and Octopus Spotting

Fri, 2017-07-14 10:00

Last month our Ships Co-ordinator joined the Alba na Mara for a day to observe colleagues during the East Coast Scallop Dredging Survey 0917A. The aim of this visit was to get a better understanding of the scallop dredging process, the equipment and techniques used, and the challenges associated with this sampling method.

The feedback from the trip was that the scientists, skipper and crew aboard were really helpful; providing detailed explanations of procedures used and answering questions fully and with enthusiasm. The wheelhouse and deck operations, as well as the sampling processes, were expertly carried out and there were also some opportunities to discuss potential improvements during future operations.lesser octopus (Eledone cirrhosa)

Scallop dredge hauls were made at the sites shown below on Figure 1 for 30 minutes each time. From each haul all of the scallops were measured to the half centimetre below and aged. Numbers and size distribution of commercial fish and shellfish species were recorded; along with scallop shell damage, and starfish numbers and species. Scallops were also collected for genetic analysis.


Scallop dredge haul sites

Figure 1: Scallop dredge haul sites


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Recent updates to NMPi

Wed, 2017-07-12 10:00

NMPI screenshotSome of you may be aware of Marine Scotland MAPS NMPi (National Marine Plan interactive), Marine Scotland’s key tool for sharing data with stakeholders. It continues the innovation started by Scotland’s Marine Atlas and its follow up e-publication. It’s an online, interactive GIS-based tool allowing you to view different types of information, as map layers, at a scale of your choice.

Updates are happening regularly and in improvements made this week, users now have additional flexibility including:

  1. Keyword search – NMPi layers will be tagged with keywords and a new dialogue box is used to filter on them. For now the only ‘Vocabulary’ available is ‘layer properties’. This will allow users to identify, for example, all the layers that can be downloaded. Additional vocabularies will be developed in the future that will tag NMPi layers so allowing greater ease of finding data / information.
  2. Improved links for data download – in future rather than download data from NMPi, links will be provided from where data can be downloaded. For Marine Scotland data this will generally be a link to the appropriate SSDI (Scottish Spatial Data Infrastructure, the Scottish INSPIRE portal) page where full metadata and files will be available. For 3rd party data (not previously available from NMPi) it could be to either that party’s SSDI page or other web page where data are available. MS links are available straight away. Marine Scotland will be providing signposts to 3rd party data sources rather than providing the actual data. We will populate 3rd party links over coming months.
  3. Links to Metadata – The Marine Scotland INFORMATION pages that support MAPS NMPi also contain some metadata for all the NMPi layers. These can now be accessed using the right click context menu and clicking on ‘Show Metadata’
  4. Refreshed icons – the opportunity has been taken to refresh the buttons on NMPI but their functionality remains the same.
  5. Time aware – when first activating the time aware function now (right click context menu), the first time period of data will show on screen. Previously all the data showed until you clicked the time aware start button. If you still wish to see all the data for the whole period of data included in the layer, do not activate time aware.
  6. Mobile site – small changes have been made to the way the layer control works on the mobile site which is accessed by users when on a tablet or phone.

More details about these changes can be found in our quarterly update report.

Further Information


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IA2017 – Marine birds in trouble

Mon, 2017-07-10 10:00

Marine birds in trouble

Marine birds are valuable indicators of ecosystem condition. OSPAR assesses the abundance and breeding success of marine birds.

In the Norwegian Arctic, the Greater North Sea and the Celtic Seas, there has been a considerable (>20%) drop in abundance compared to the levels observed 25 years ago, for more than a quarter of the marine bird species assessed. Frequent and widespread breeding failure has been observed for many species, especially those feeding on small fish in the surface waters of the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas. Prey availability is likely to be driven by ecosystem-specific changes, possibly impacted by commercial fisheries and climate change.

In the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010), OSPAR highlighted the occurrence of breeding failure in parts of the Greater North Sea and the Arctic, and stressed the need for research into links between environmental factors and the long-term health of marine bird populations.

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Can you help us keep track?

Thu, 2017-07-06 10:00

Smolt tag

Marine Scotland is tracking salmon from  uly 2017 and would like your help!

Atlantic salmon can migrate thousands of miles –  from home rivers to high seas feeding grounds, and back to spawn – but how they find their home river remains a mystery.

A number of historic tagging studies have shown that fish captured in coastal nets at one location have then been recaptured in nets much further around the coast, but our picture of homing movements is very patchy.

To try and address this, these data are being augmented by a modern acoustic tracking study due to commence in July this year. Up to 750 salmon will be captured in a net fishery on the north coast of Scotland and fitted with miniature transmitters. A network of receivers is being deployed around Scotland to detect where those fish then go. The study will add to our knowledge of the extent to which coastal fisheries impact of different rivers as well as increasing our understanding of salmon homing behaviour.

If you catch a salmon with a tag (as shown in the attached photograph) near the dorsal fin, then please remove it by cutting through the plastic cord to remove the acoustic black cylinder). Please note that the colour of the cord may vary from yellow.

Please send the acoustic tag, also with a note of day and location of capture, to:
Armadale Tracking, Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory,
PH16 5LB

Please enclose your name, postal and email (if applicable) address and we will send you £20 in reward.

If you have any other information about the fish (eg a photo, length, sex) then please nclude it when you send in the tag. However, please do not delay the safe return of the fish to the water to obtain any such information.

The Armadale Tracking Team


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IA2017 – The network of OSPAR Marine Protected Areas is expanding

Mon, 2017-07-03 10:00

The network of OSPAR Marine Protected Areas is expanding

Considerable progress has been made in developing OSPAR’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) network.

Since the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (QSR 2010), a further 289 MPAs have been added to the network, bringing the total number to 448. MPAs now cover 5.9% of the OSPAR Maritime Area compared with a total coverage of only 1.1% in 2010.

OSPAR is undertaking further work to understand what constitutes an ecologically-coherent and well-managed MPA network, and additional efforts are needed to implement the management measures necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the protected features of OSPAR MPAs.

Successful ecosystem-based management of the OSPAR MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) requires coordination between the organisations responsible for regulating human activities in these areas. As a start, OSPAR and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) have an ongoing arrangement in place to take into account each other’s objectives and activities.

The post IA2017 – The network of OSPAR Marine Protected Areas is expanding appeared first on Marine Scotland.

OSPAR’s IA2017 – What is it?

Fri, 2017-06-30 10:29

The OSPAR Intermediate Assessment 2017 (or IA2017K) is an assessment of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic and its current status. It’s not the first time they’ve done this – its previous holistic assessment, the QSR 2010, was a culmination of ten years of joint assessment and monitoring by OSPAR Contracting Parties and seven years on, with the benefit of significant developments in monitoring and assessment methodology, the IA 2017 provides an update on the 2010 assessment as well as presenting some new indicators and assessment methodology.

But who are OSPAR? OSPAR are a collection of Governments and the European Union who are working together to improve the marine environment. It began in 1972 with the Oslo Convention against dumping and was broadened to cover land-based sources and the offshore industry by the Paris Convention of 1974. The two conventions were unified, updated and extended to form the 1992 OSPAR Convention (OSPAR is so named because of the original Oslo and Paris Conventions (“OS” for Oslo and “PAR” for Paris).

OSPAR timelineThe 15 Governments who have signed and ratified the Convention are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, along with Luxembourg and Switzerland. Marine Scotland, along with the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and all the other members of the UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy Evidence Groups are all involved in the UK input.

Although their work covers many areas, the recently agreed Intermediate Assessment covers the North-East Atlantic and over the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting the 12 key findings from the assessment, linking it to some information and reading that you might find interesting.

The post OSPAR’s IA2017 – What is it? appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Another award goes to Plan

Thu, 2017-06-29 14:37

RTPI LogoThe pilot Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan (PFOW MSP), which was developed by a collaboration of Marine Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and the Highland Council, has won the Excellence in Plan Making Practice category at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards for Planning Excellence 2017. The team was presented with the award at a ceremony in London on 15 June 2017. The RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence are the most established and respected awards in the planning industry. They highlight exceptional examples of planning and celebrate the contribution that planners and planning make to society. The PFOW MSP was one of 90 finalists competing across 14 categories and was the only shortlisted entry relating to the marine environment.

The judges’ comments were:

This plan, a first of its kind for the UK, should be held up as best practice for other councils struggling to integrate land and marine planning into a single plan. It is an interesting and imaginative approach to marine planning and given Britain’s maritime heritage, it’s surprising there aren’t more plans like this one”.

More information on the awards can be found on the RTPI website and more information about the PFOW MSP can be found on the Marine Scotland website.

RPTI Winners

(L to R) Wayne Hemmingway, James Green (Orkney Islands Council), Tracy McCollin (Marine Scotland) , Shona Turnbull (Highland Council), Steffan Rees (Quod)

The post Another award goes to Plan appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Vacancy – Licensing Operations and Compliance Manager (Closing date 13 July 2017)

Tue, 2017-06-27 11:17

We are currently seeking applications for a Deputy Team Leader/Licensing Operations and Compliance Manager within the Marine Scotland based in Aberdeen. This is a permanent and pensionable appointment and new entrants will start on the minimum of the pay range. Candidates with a disability who meet the essential criteria below will be invited to the assessments.

This position is based in the Licensing Operations Team of Marine Planning and Policy which is a Division of the Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland Directorate helping to work towards achieving good environmental status, through marine planning, licensing and other functions, to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment.  The Licensing Operations Team discharges a range of statutory responsibilities. Regulation is mainly carried out under the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010; Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and parts of the Electricity Act 1989 with additional European Protected Species licences issued as necessary. The purpose of the regulatory regime is to ensure that all aspects of an application are considered and balanced against for example potential environmental impacts and interferences with other legitimate users of the sea

Qualifications Required
A minimum of a honours degree or equivalent in science, engineering, planning or law but in exceptional circumstances relevant and specific experience may be considered. Preference will be given to applicants who hold a professional environmental qualification, such as IEMA or similar. Other qualifications equivalent to these may also be acceptable, if you are in any doubt please contact the Resourcing Officer named at the end of this advert to discuss.

Essential Criteria
1. Have a proven track record in leading, implementing and enabling change in large and/or complex organisations operating in the marine environment. Innovative and resilient in delivering against strategic priorities, adapting quickly to fit skills and resources to changing circumstances and expectations.
2. A track record of leading and managing individuals to build an effective team.
3. A strong track record in the development and delivery and/or implementation of policy in an operational context and management of media and political scrutiny.
4. Knowledge and experience of operating in a marine regulatory /licensing role or exceptionally can demonstrate through previous relevant experience an ability to develop an acceptable level of knowledge and expertise.
5. A track record in leading, managing and influencing complex stakeholder environments – credible at all levels, both internally and externally. Actively managing authorising environments, making connections across boundaries to build strong networks and partnerships.

Desirable Criteria
1. Knowledge and experience of working in the marine environment and with Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.
2. Experience of project/programme management.

For further information on this vacancy please download and review the “Person Specification and Further Information for Job Applicants” which you will find below. To apply, you must fully complete and submit an online application via this website before the closing date.

To learn more about this opportunity, please contact James McKie on 01224 295470 or email

If you experience any difficulties accessing our website or completing the online application form, please contact the Resourcing Team on 0131 244 5175 or via

*Pay Supplement
This post attracts a £5,000 MS-LOT retention. Pay supplements are temporary payments designed to address recruitment and retention issues caused by market pressures and are subject to regular review. The supplement has been agreed until 31 July 2019 when it will be reviewed.

 Further information for this job

Apply for this job

You should read each of the Essential/Desirable Criteria and think about a time or an example that can help demonstrate your knowledge/skills. Remember, this must be evidence based and your answers should be clear, concise and reflect what actions you undertook. You may want to use the STAR(R) approach to respond to each criterion.

Further Information

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There be prawns!

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

The post There be prawns! appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Introducing… the new look Scotland’s environment website

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

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

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)


  • 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.


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

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

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

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SEWeb – volunteers needed to test new Scotland’s environment website

Wed, 2017-05-24 10:52

SE Web logo

The team from SEWeb are looking for volunteers to help us carry out usability testing of the Scotland’s environment website.

The Scotland’s environment website brings together environmental information and data in one place so that it is easy to search, discover, view, analyse and interpret.

In June, a new look test version of the website will be launched. This is as a result of earlier user feedback that has helped us identify areas where improvements could be made. The site will be very much a work in progress, with more development planned, but we would like to gather feedback on the changes made so far.

To help us do this we are looking for volunteers to take part in online usability testing. This would involve completing a series of short tasks and letting us know how you got on. The tasks will involve testing out the new map tool, finding information and data on key environmental topics, navigation around the website and the general look, feel and design. You can choose to take part in one or more of the test tasks, with each taking 10-15 minutes.

Your help with usability testing will provide us with valuable feedback that will help us make further improvements to the website.

If you would like to volunteer to take part in online user testing, please get in touch with the Scotland’s environment Team by using one of the links below to indicate which test tasks you would like to participate in:

Full instructions will be provided and all tests are carried out anonymously so responses will not be attributed to individuals. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Remembering Helen Stormonth Ogilivie (1880-1960)

Wed, 2017-05-17 13:53

On this day in 1880, Helen Stormonth Ogilivie was born who, as far as we know, was the first woman to be employed by what is now Marine Scotland Science.

Born in Dundee, Ms Ogilvie studied at Dundee University College at the time it became affiliated to St Andrews University and graduated with an MA and also a BSc, with distinction in Botany and Zoology.Helen Ogilvie's collection

Ms Ogilvie started working for the Fishery Board for Scotland around 1911, and at this time also began working with Professor Haaken Hasberg Gran, a prominent Norwegian botanist, analysing phytoplankton samples. The work led to her first publication with Prof Gran describing the phytoplankton and planktonic food of fishes.

She came to work at the Aberdeen Laboratory in 1926 and dedicated most of her career to the study of phytoplankton. She also published a number of scientific papers in her own right, including a description of the copepod (a small marine animal) which is the reference work for these creatures, still used today.

Following her retirement in 1946 Ms Ogilvie continued her interest and remained voluntarily at the laboratory until her health began to fade.  Upon leaving she bequeathed a wonderful array of books, from her own personal collection, to the Aberdeen Laboratory; which we still have on display in our Marine Laboratory Library.


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