Marine Scotland Blog

Subscribe to Marine Scotland Blog feed Marine Scotland Blog
Scottish Government Blog
Updated: 2 hours 47 min ago

Surveying the Haddock on the Rockall Plateau

Wed, 2018-10-03 14:49

Survey: 1318S Rockall Haddock Survey

Duration: 19 September – 1 October 2018

Fishing Gear:

• GOV (Grand Overture Verticale) Trawl (BT 137) with ground gear D.

Other Gear:

• Conductivity Temperature Depth (CTD) Seabird 19+; and
• Van Veen Grab.


• Undertake the bottom trawl survey of haddock on Rockall Bank to a depth of 350 m;
• Deploy a CTD at selected trawl stations to collect temperature and salinity profiles;
• Collect sediment samples at selected stations; and
• Record marine litter at each trawl station for Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).


The primary objective of this survey is to assess the state of the haddock stock on the Rockall Plateau. The Rockall haddock survey utilises a semi-random stratified survey design comprising four depth-separated sampling strata. Sampling intensity within each of the four strata reflects the fish density observed in each of these during previous surveys. Trawling will be carried out during the hours of daylight at randomly selected locations within the 350 m contour. Forty primary tow positions have been generated and their allocation within each depth stratum is displayed in Figure 1 below.

The number of stations within each depth strata is as follows:

  • five stations at 0-150 m;
  • 21 stations at 150-200 m;
  • ten stations at 200-250 m; and
  • four stations at 250-350 m.

Scotia will undertake a trawl haul within five miles of each station position where possible or, failing that, choose an alternative. The minimum spacing between trawl locations is set at 7 nm. A further 22 secondary stations across the various strata have been generated to provide a source of additional stations and/or alternatives should any primary station prove unfishable. Where time allows additional hauls will be conducted outside the existing strata (R1-R4) in depths between 350-500 m. This is a periodic check that is undertaken to test the current depth boundary at 350 m (see Figure 1).

One haul of 30 minutes duration will be made at each sampling station. Daily start times for survey stations will be at approximately 06:00 hours and continue until approximately 20:00 hours. The Scanmar system will be used to monitor the headline height, wing spread and door spread for each haul. Bottom contact data from each trawl will also be collected using the NOAA bottom contact sensor which will be mounted on a bar in the centre of the ground-gear. In addition to the routine sampling, biological data will be collected for target species in line with the EU data regulation. All fish will be processed in accordanceFig 1 1318S Survey map showing stations with the protocols as described in the Manual of the IBTS North Eastern Atlantic Surveys. Series of ICES Survey Protocols SISP 15. 92 pp. 

During trawl downtime at night, Scotia will take sediment samples using a ‘Van Veen’ Grab. The sampling positions for the grabs will be confirmed on a day to day basis and will be influenced by vessel location at the end of each trawling period. Regular planning meetings with the fishing master and captain will take place during the survey and will be scheduled at a time that is mutually convenient to all those concerned.

Figure 1: Survey map showing stations generated for 1318S. Red stratum (R1) = 0-150 m depth, green stratum (R2) = 150-200 m, blue stratum (R3) = 200-250 m and light-blue stratum (R4) = 250-350 m. Boxes/polygons represent restricted or closed areas. Closed circles = primary haul positions, open circles = secondary haul positions. Potential station positions > 350m depth are denoted as black open circles.

The post Surveying the Haddock on the Rockall Plateau appeared first on Marine Scotland.

A Nurturing Home for the Juveniles

Mon, 2018-10-01 10:15

Survey: 1518A MRV Alba na Mara Programme

Duration: 29 September – 16 October 2018

Background and Objectives:

The primary objective of this survey is to identify whether the availability, quality, and distribution of habitat acts as a constraint on the number of juvenile fish that can develop into adults.

This study focusses on three types of fish with differing habitat preferences: Atlantic cod, whiting, and haddock in which year-class strength appears to be established around the period of habitat settlement.

The study will use three sampling methods: demersal tows, fish traps, and a baited-camera census technique. Data from these surveys will inform the development of species distribution models (at a regional and stock scale) and will also be used to compare the selectivity of the three sampling methods.

Otolith (fish ear bone) analyses will also be carried out post-survey to examine selection on settlement time and size-specific mortality. Genetic tissue will be stored and used post-survey to examine stock structure, primarily in cod.

Survey Objectives:
  • Collect measures of juvenile gadoid abundance using three different sampling methods.
  • Record substrate features at the point of sampling.
  • Collect sufficient otolith samples suitable for survival analysis studies.
  • Collect sufficient genetic material to investigate issues relating to stock structure.

Scientists will join the vessel on the morning of 29 September and, weather permitting, the Alba na Mara will make its way to the Firth of Clyde. Fish traps will be loaded directly from an European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) charter vessel.

Survey Work:

The survey will be split into four parts:

  1. Demersal Fishing Survey.
  2. Fish Trap Survey.
  3. Stereo Baited Remote Underwater Video (SBRUV) Cameras.
  4. Underwater Television (UWTV) Benthic Survey.

These will be performed at each station (with the exception that trawling will not occur at those sites within the South Arran Marine Protected Area (MPA) and only baited camera footage will be taken within the Lamlash Bay No-Take Zone (NTZ).

Demersal Fishing Survey

The demersal survey (30 minute tows) will assess the abundance, length-frequency-distribution, and weight-at-length of juvenile gadoids at nine fixed stations within the Firth of Clyde (i.e. those shown to be lying outside the South Arran MPA boundary, Figure 1 below). Samples collected at each. 1 cm size class will be retained and frozen for analysis at a later date. Occurrences of invertebrates and other fish species will be recorded and measured.

Figure 1 1518A 2018 survey sites within the Firth of Clyde

Scanmar units will be fitted to the wings and headline of the Bottom Trawl type 158 (BT158) to ensure the net is fishing correctly. If possible, a low light UW camera will also be fitted to the wing/headline to enable footage of the substrate to be taken.

Fish Trap Survey

A fish trap survey at all survey sites within the Firth of Clyde will be carried out during this survey, with the exception of the four sites within the Lamlash Bay NTZ which are sites 1-19. Traps (up to two fleets of four traps) will be deployed in the first half of the day and collected in the afternoon after a soak time of approximately six hours. Species composition and length frequency distributions of fish caught will be determined. Gill samples will also be taken from selected fish for genetic study at a later date. All samples will be weighed and, where appropriate (Cod, Whiting, Haddock), frozen. Occurrences of invertebrates and other fish species will be recorded and measured.

Stereo Baited Remote Underwater Video (SBRUV) Cameras

SBRUV camera frames will be deployed during daylight hours (2-3 units will be available). These will be left in the water for approximately 1.5 hours before being retrieved. The deployment of baited cameras will happen at the same time as that of the fish traps and at distances sufficient to avoid any interaction with either the fleet ground gear or the other baited system (recommended minimum is 500 m). Footage will be downloaded to external media at the end of each working day. Species type, relative species densities (MaxN) and substrate type (assessed visually) will be classified post-survey.

Underwater Television (UWTV) Benthic Survey

To further aid the classification of the substrate at each sampling site we will also undertake a series of short, five minute, UWTV video tows at two points along each demersal tow. To achieve this, the survey will utilise the EMFF UWTV system. This system is not operated from Alba’s UWTV umbilical, but is deployed from the hydro-winch on the vessel. As the system is lowered, the camera’s umbilical is attached to the winch wire to prevent fouling the propeller. The camera display unit will be set up in the bridge to allow the winch to be adjusted according to depth/height from the ground.


Survey operations will take place between the hours of 07:00 and 19:00 (all times BST). Stations will be surveyed depending on the prevailing weather conditions i.e. if wind strengths or wave heights are adverse, a precautionary approach will be adopted and those with adequate shelter from the weather will be selected. Alternatively, in poorer weather the trawl survey may be prioritised over other activities. A half landing will take place on 7 October to comply with working hours and to allow planned changes to the scientific crew.

  • Jackson Rockhopper Trawl BT158 with 10 mm Codend + Spare
  • Scanmar net sensors – trawl width, height, and depth (x2 units)
  • 2 fleets of fish traps
  • Fish/prawn sorting table
  • SBRUV – baited camera frames – (QTY 3)
  • EMFF camera frame, umbilicals (300m + 100m), camera system, lights and control unit.
  • Flashback net camera, bracket and low light camera.
Further Information:

The post A Nurturing Home for the Juveniles appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Herring or Sprat; and the Notorious Case of Burke and Hare

Mon, 2018-09-24 10:00
Robert Knox

Robert Knox

One of the earliest pieces of fisheries research carried out in Scotland concerned the Firth of Forth herring fishery, and whether herring and sprat were two separate species. An artefact from this research is on display in the library foyer at the Marine Laboratory, in Aberdeen.

The Board of British White Herring Fisheries was established in 1808, and asked various well known scientists of the time to help with problems. In 1836, the Board asked the prominent anatomist, Robert Knox, to investigate whether the small fish being caught in the Firth of Forth were herring or sprat, and if these were different species. These specimens showed that they were different species, and that both were present in the Firth of Forth fishery.

Frederick Knox, who mounted the specimens shown in the picture above, was Robert Knox’s brother and served as his chief assistant from 1836.

A Murderous Connection

Robert Knox, eminent anatomist and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, is notorious today for his involvement with the Edinburgh body snatchers and murderers, Burke and Hare.

Before the Anatomy Act of 1832 was passed, Scottish law required that corpses used for medical research should only come from those who had died in prison, suicide victims, or from foundlings and orphans. As the science of anatomy progressed, demand for bodies increased and a shortage developed. Body snatching was the (illegal) practice of digging up recently buried corpses and selling them to anatomists for research.

Caricature of Knox harvesting corpses

Caricature of Knox Harvesting Corpses

Burke and Hare did not wait for people to die naturally though, and over a 10 to 12 month period in 1827/1828 they murdered 16 people and sold the corpses to Robert Knox. They were arrested, along with their wives, in November 1828. Hare turned King’s evidence, was granted immunity and confessed to all 16 murders. Burke was eventually charged with four murders, and convicted of one. He was hanged, dissected and displayed. Knox was not prosecuted, although his reputation never recovered from his involvement in the case.

Road to the Marine Laboratory

The artefact was originally housed in the Fishery Secretary’s Office in St Andrews House, Edinburgh. It made its way to the Marine Laboratory at some stage, and was displayed there for some years. We’re delighted to be able to display it again now, and it shows how long Marine Scotland and our various predecessor organisations have been working in fisheries research.

Further Information:


The post Herring or Sprat; and the Notorious Case of Burke and Hare appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Vacancy – Assistant Fisheries Scientist – closing date 9 Oct

Fri, 2018-09-21 10:00

We are currently seeking applications for an Assistant Fisheries Scientist within Marine Scotland Science, Salmon Assessment Group, based in Montrose. This is a permanent and pensionable appointment and new entrants will normally start on the minimum of the pay range. Candidates with a disability who meet the essential criteria below will be invited to the assessments.

The Salmon Assessment Group is responsible for collecting data on the abundance and biological characteristics of adult salmon stocks that are of sufficient quality to support the provision of science-based advice on salmon management and conservation.  This post supports the operation of three in-river automated fish counters, focussing on their day-to-day maintenance, and to obtain and validate the counter data.  The post holder will also participate in fieldwork to obtain and sample salmon / sea trout and will age fish from collected scale samples.

Qualifications Required

For jobs in Band A, you must hold a minimum of 5 Standard Grades (grades 1 – 3) or Ordinary Grades (A-C) including English and a numerical subject.  As this is a specialist science post, good passes at Higher level, including at least one science/technology subject, maths and English are also required.

Other qualifications equivalent to these may also be acceptable, if you are in any doubt please contact to discuss.

Please note: If you fail to demonstrate how you meet the minimum qualifications as stated above, your application will be automatically sifted out.

Due to the location of field sites not served by public transport, a full driving licence that enables the person to drive in the UK is required. However, consideration will be given to proposals put forward by applicants to carry out these duties by other means.

Essential Criteria
  1. Demonstrates knowledge of scientific, technical and mathematical concepts, practices and procedures.
  2. Good attention to detail.  Proven ability to handle data accurately and using appropriate quality assurance procedures.
  3. Well organised; able to prioritise conflicting demands and meet fixed timetables.
  4. Proven ability to work in the field, including a willingness to handle live and dead fish.

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 Craig Robinson who can be reached at or 0131 244 3333.

If you experience any difficulties accessing our website or completing the online application form, please contact the Resourcing Team on 0131 244 5739 or via

Further Information for this Job

Person Specification and Further Information for Applicants

The post Vacancy – Assistant Fisheries Scientist – closing date 9 Oct appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Celebrating Science and Year of the Young Person with Eric Dalgarno

Thu, 2018-09-20 10:00

As we mentioned in one of our earlier blogs, 2018 is both the Year of the Engineer and the Year of the Young Person – and this blog is about one of our many colleagues who are inspiring the next generation with their Outreach work.

This is Eric, one of our Marine Environmental Chemists in our Marine Environmental Assessment Group. Read on to find out what he gets up to.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Eric Dalgarno and I do all the environmental monitoring work as part of the Environment, Monitoring and Assessment Group at the Marine Laboratory. Part of my work involves going on two sea trips a year. One in January to monitor the environmental state of the seas which involves fishing, sediments and water sampling which are then analysed for PHs, PPDEs, CBs and seawater nutrients. Then in September we have the deep water sampling trip. Both these trips involve going round the whole coastline and I prefer the September trip not just because of the weather but because of some of the strange things that we find.

Why is what you do important?
We keep a record of all these results every year to see what the changes in the sea are. We have kept records for quite a lot of years now so gives us a good indication of the pollutant levels. All the results are put into merman which is part of the Marine Atlas. One of the big things that we are currently doing is the microplastics which is all the small bits of plastic breaking down and for example microbeads from facial washes. This work involves monitoring the litter to find out how much is there and what is the predominant make up of it? Things overall are improving partly due to being able to find more of this type of pollution and also the outreach programmes which let people know what is out there and the effect it is having on the environment.

What’s your career path been – how did you get here?
I started working at the MAFF Torry Research Station (TRS) in June 1978 which is now the new SEPA building in Torry. In 1996 I then moved over to the Marine Laboratory across the road once the TRS moved down to York. My job has changed over the years from working with fish factories, experiments on fish during and after smoking in kilns, fish more as food at TRS to now at the Marine Laboratory more chemistry and environmental work on fish. So more than just a swap from the English Civil Service into the Scottish Civil Service. But overall been a Civil Servant for almost 40 years!

If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
My family was from a farming background but never really fancy doing this. At school I enjoyed chemistry and biology so always wanted to work in a laboratory environment. In 1978 the oil industry in Aberdeen was only just really starting so might of looked for a job with one of the oil companies but very happy to have started working at TRS. Have always enjoyed lab based work.

What’s your favourite fishy fact?
The fascinating fish that is found on the deep water September trip. With samples coming from over 2,000 metres below the surface where no light is, the variety of sponges and corals and occasionally unknown species. Many of the species have poisons on them or in them or even teeth so you have to be very careful when handling them.

And what about one fun fact about you?
Not really a fun fact but something I enjoy doing is to continue to embarrass my daughters even when they are in their twenties. I am also still a member of the Taste Panel after very many years of tasting and a final fact which is fun … I also really enjoy whisky… a lot! Finally a close colleague did comment on his driving being but not much fun!

What do you enjoy most doing Outreach?
Working with young people and encouraging them into science is so very rewarding.

Further Information

The post Celebrating Science and Year of the Young Person with Eric Dalgarno appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Not all rivers are the same: new analysis reveals how juvenile salmon numbers vary across Scotland

Wed, 2018-09-19 10:00

Electrofishing is a commonly used method for capturing, counting and sampling fish populations. Where electrofishing is performed according to carefully defined standards, and combined with appropriate statistical analysis, it is possible to estimate the number of fish in a particular section of a river. Electrofishing data have been collected across much of Scotland for over twenty years, however, they are often hard to interpret without a benchmark to compare against. A benchmark indicates how many fish are expected in a river, assuming that the environment and fish populations are healthy and by comparing the observed fish numbers against a benchmark it is possible to determine whether rivers are producing approximately the number of fish that are expected, more or less. Benchmarks are difficult to produce because rivers with different environmental characteristics support variable numbers of fish.

Over the last four years scientists from Marine Scotland’s Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory have collated and analysed data that they have collected along with Fisheries trusts, District Salmon Fishery Boards, SEPA and SNH to develop a National Juvenile Salmon Density Model for Scotland. The model uses information on the landscape characteristics of rivers (e.g. altitude, catchment area) to understand and predict how salmon densities vary between rivers, regions and years thereby providing a benchmark that could be used to assess salmon populations against (Figure 1). The model was underpinned by electrofishing data from 25 organisations, collected during 3848 visits to 1861 sites in 179 catchments over 19 years. New spatial data analysis approaches were developed to characterise habitat across Scotland (using landscape characteristics) and advanced statistical approaches were used to harmonise the dataset to account for differences in fish capture probability between organisations, habitats, regions and years. The resulting benchmark predictions for Atlantic salmon fry (young fish in their year after hatching) are shown in Figure.1 below:

Benchmark densities

Figure 1 Benchmark densities (those expected if the river environment and salmon populations were healthy) for Atlantic salmon fry predicted from the National Juvenile Density Model for Scotland. Grey lines show rivers where it was not possible to predict fish densities due to a lack of electrofishing data (mainly big and deep rivers where fishing is not possible). Thicker lines show larger rivers. River lines based on digital spatial data licensed from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, © NERC (CEH).

In 2018 Marine Scotland developed the National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland (NEPS), a strategically designed statistical sample of 810 sites across Scotland, delivered locally by fisheries trusts and boards. Data collected as part of this programme will be compared against the new national benchmarks. A further report on this work will be provided by the end of March 2018 that explains overall progress and explores the potential for assessing the status of Atlantic salmon using electrofishing data.

Further Information

The post Not all rivers are the same: new analysis reveals how juvenile salmon numbers vary across Scotland appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Turning MUSE-ings in to action

Tue, 2018-09-18 10:00


MUSES infographic

Increasing demands on ocean resources and the associated conflicts between competing ocean users has made it crucial for us to carefully consider how we use our seas. Over the last two years, the Multi-Use in European Seas (MUSES) Project, led by Marine Scotland, has been researching the concept and the real life practicalities of “multi-use” in the five European sea basins – Baltic Sea, North Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Eastern Atlantic. This represents a radical shift from the concept of exclusive resource rights to the inclusive sharing of resources by one or more users.

Drawing on a comprehensive evidence base including in-depth regional and case study analysis, complemented by active engagement with relevant stakeholders in each sea basin, MUSES has developed an Action Plan to help make the future multi-use development in European Seas a reality. The Action Plan suggests practical solutions for overcoming regulatory and other non-technical barriers (including finance, insurance and licencing procedures), as well as how to minimise risks associated with multi-use development.

The Action Plan itself will be presented at the MUSES final conference, which is being held in Brussels on October 10th. The conference will provide a platform for those with an interest in blue growth to consider possible solutions for advancing multi-use development in Europe, and will offer attendees an opportunity to learn more about multi-use opportunities in specific areas, such as offshore renewable energy in combination with different types of aquaculture, or tourism sector in combination with underwater cultural heritage or fisheries (pescatourism).

Further Information

MUSES logo

The post Turning MUSE-ings in to action appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Mon, 2018-09-17 10:00

Survey: 1418A MRV Alba na Mara Programme

This survey will be executed in two parts during the window of 12th September to the 25th September 2018.

Part One Objectives:

  • Live fish capture for tank based trials in our Fish Behaviour Unit (FBU); and
  • Trialing new Vonin ‘Flyer’ headline kites.

Part Two Objectives:

  • Recover (VR2Tx) salmon detectors between Ythan Estuary and Findon Ness by Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV); and
  • Search for two missing moorings as time and tide allow. Last recorded positions for these are: 57° 07.751’ N : -1° 54.141W and 57° 03.271’: -2° 01.912’W.

Procedure for Part One:

Equipment will be loaded onto MRV Alba na Mara at Fraserburgh; where the trawl and wire rig will be rigged onto the net drum. Scientific staff will also join the Alba na Mara and rig the live fish codend on to Bottom Trawl type 158 (BT158). Once rigging is complete the vessel will sail to suitable grounds off Aberdeen and complete shakedown tows with the new BT158 to ensure the trawl fishes correctly.

Short hauls will then be made to trial the new Vonin headline kites and to assess available fish species on the grounds. For the remainder of the survey short five to ten minute hauls will be made to obtain live, healthy, fish for tank based behaviour trials. Fish will regularly be collected from the harbor, by aquarium staff, and transported back to the FBU.

Procedure for Part Two:

For the second part of the survey the vessel will depart Aberdeen and, weather dependant, proceed to recover the salmon detector moorings in the Aberdeen Bay array. The vessel will anchor at each location to allow ROV operations to be undertaken for locating and recovering the missing moorings.


  • BT 158 – New design with guard meshes.
  • Trawl doors, sweeps, bridles, backstrops and pennants.
  • Standard ground gear incorporating rockhopper centre section.
  • Live fish codends.
  • 2 x Vonin plastic ‘Flyers’ (net kites used to generate lift).
  • Moray Marine ROV.

Further Information:

The post Let’s Go Fly a Kite appeared first on Marine Scotland.

A Tall Ship Amongst the Nephrops

Fri, 2018-09-14 10:00

Survey: 1318A MRV Alba na Mara

Duration: 25th August – 10th September 2018

Another busy week of TV deployments aboard Alba na Mara for the Nephrops Underwater TV (UWTV) Survey. This weeks efforts were concentrated in the Firth of Forth where we managed a total of 56 TV stations and two fishing operations. Poor visibility meant an additional five stations were undertaken.  This was down to a mix of tide, commercial fishing operations, and other marine traffic stirring up the sea bed. Plentiful burrows were viewed when the visibility allowed though.

Highlights of the week include a small number of Minke whales at the mouth of the Forth estuary. Several were seen over the course of the morning but unfortunately we didn’t manage to get any pictures.

Among the busy shipping channel towards Leith we were lucky enough to see a wide variety of ocean going craft; oil and chemical tankers, cruise ships, and a German registered tall ship the ‘Alexander Von Humboldt II’. One of our stations brought us close alongside whilst she was at anchor so we did manage to get a picture of her.

Further Information:

The post A Tall Ship Amongst the Nephrops appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Go west….to Greenland!

Thu, 2018-09-13 10:00

We’re excited about bringing you this next blog. Sean, who you’ll read about below, is taking part in a West Greenland Salmon Sampling trip. But what is it and why is sampling done in Greenland? Read on to find out….Copyright of Sean Duggan

 Welcome to my West Greenland Salmon Sampling Photo Blog

My name is Sean Dugan and I am based at the Marine Scotland Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory near Pitlochry. I am employed by Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS) with joint funding from Marine Scotland (MS), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the fisheries trusts and boards. My role involves providing support to local fisheries managers in Scotland; in terms of data collection, data storage, training and mapping services.

I am responsible for facilitating the sharing of data between fisheries trusts, MS, and SEPA. My role also involves working with MS to support fisheries management planning and salmon conservation regulations. MS fund expenses on the trip and my time is covered by a combination of annual leave and FMS.

I have been on the waiting list for this trip for four years and have finally arrived in Maniitsoq, West Greenland. I will keep you updated with photos and insights during my trip. You can keep up with my Greenland Flickr photostream here.

Wild Atlantic Salmon

Scotland’s wild Atlantic salmon fishery generates over £100 million per year for the rural economy. Populations across the North Atlantic have declined in recent years despite reductions in exploitation and many other freshwater conservation efforts. Atlantic salmon have an anadromous life cycle meaning that they migrate from salt water up rivers to spawn. After hatching juveniles usually spend between one and three years in freshwater before migrating to sea. Salmon feed across the North Atlantic and travel as far as West Greenland. After a year or more at sea salmon return to the river of their birth to continue their life cycle.

The likelihood of salmon surviving their marine migration has declined in recent decades to a situation where less than five out of every 100 salmon leaving the Scottish coast return safely. This decline has prompted international research efforts including the West Greenland Salmon Sampling Programme.

History of West Greenland Sampling

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the West Greenland salmon fishery involved vessels from numerous countries intercepting fish originating from North America, continental Europe, Iceland and Greenland. At the height of the Fishery in the early 1970’s up to 2700 tonnes of salmon were caught. Many of the salmon populations from the natal rivers have experienced large declines and some are now facing extinction. Scientists have sampled salmon in West Greenland since the 1960’s with an increased co-ordinated effort since 2002. Since then, Scottish Government have contributed to this sampling effort by funding a Scottish sampler each year.

Four regions in Greenland will be sampled in 2018 by samplers from several North Atlantic countries, co-ordinated by Tim Sheehan of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in Massachusetts.

WHY Sample?

Information collected is used by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas’ (ICES) to provide catch advice to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) including the composition of the mixed stock fishery and region of origin (see map below). NASCO is an international organisation, established by an inter-governmental Convention in 1984, to conserve, restore, enhance and rationally manage Atlantic salmon through international cooperation taking account of the best available scientific information. Sample data is also used to account for under-reporting of catches if samplers record more fish than are reported.

What is Sampled?

Salmon are sampled opportunistically as they are brought to port from subsistence coastal netting operations. Basic characteristics such as length and weight are taken further to the collection of tissue samples to understand the region of origin through genetics. Scale samples are collected to reveal the individual life history of each salmon (e.g. how many years did it spend in freshwater and at sea, what was the growth rate while at sea?). Sampling in previous years demonstrates that all captures are multi-sea winter salmon meaning that after leaving their home river they will spend more than one winter at sea before returning.

All salmon are also searched for the presence of tags which come in many forms and can be external or internal. If the salmon is adipose fin-clipped then it is extensively searched with magnifying glass and metal detector as this is an indication that a tag could be present. Tagging is still the only way to understand the exact origin of each salmon. However, genetic analysis is rapidly improving and now has the ability to assign a fish to broad geographical regions (e.g. countries) with a high level of precision.

Insights from the Data

ICES maintains a database of Greenland tag recoveries with around 6000 records from Canada, France, Faroes, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Spain and all parts of the UK. Analysis show that salmon from Northern Europe have a more easterly distribution within Greenland than fish from southern Europe. Across the West Greenland ports sampled, North American fish were more commonly found in the Northern regions (including Maniitsoq where I am stationed) than European-origin fish (see map below). Based on the time between tagging and capture it is also thought that North American fish take a more direct route to West Greenland than European fish.

 Map showing NAFO Divisions at West Greenland

Further Information:


The post Go west….to Greenland! appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Vacancy – Zooplankton Analyst – closing date 2 October

Wed, 2018-09-12 10:00

We are currently seeking applications for a Zooplankton Analyst within the Ecology and Conservation Group of Marine Scotland Science based in Aberdeen. This is a Fair and Open Fixed Term (24 months) and pensionable appointment and new entrants will normally start on the minimum of the pay range. Candidates with a disability who meet the essential criteria below will be invited to the assessments.

The main role of this post is to undertake routine taxonomic analysis of zooplankton samples in support of monitoring and research programmes. The post will include participation in research surveys, data entry and ensuring quality control of databases. The post holder will also assist in laboratory management.

Qualifications Required:
You must hold an HND or B.Sc. in biological or environmental science.

Other qualifications equivalent to these may also be acceptable, if you are in any doubt please contact to discuss.

Please note: If you fail to demonstrate how you meet the minimum qualifications as stated above, your application will be automatically sifted out.

Essential Criteria:

  1. Experience in identifying and enumerating marine zooplankton using light microscopy techniques.
  2. Experience of fieldwork, performing sampling activities that can be applied to an inshore coastal ecosystem monitoring trip.
  3. Experience compiling numeric data and ability to report in both written and oral forms.
  4. Experience of working with databases and statistical software.

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 Dr Peter Wright who can be reached at or on 01312443224 or Dr Margarita Machairopoulou at or on 01312443213.

If you experience any difficulties accessing our website or completing the online application form, please contact the resourcing team on 01312445597 or via

Further information for this job:

You should read each of the Essential 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.

The post Vacancy – Zooplankton Analyst – closing date 2 October appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Celebrating the Year of the Engineer – Going with the Flow

Tue, 2018-09-11 10:00


As we mentioned in our blog in January, 2018 is the Year of the Engineer as well as the Year of the Young Person. Over the course of the year, we’ll be introducing you to some of our incredibly talented engineers, as well as showing your some of their work. This month, it’s another of our own in-house creative solutions – the electronic flowmeter.

For many years, towed biological samplers were fitted with a mechanical flowmeter (known as a TSK flowmeter) to calculate the volume of water that passed/filtered through them.

Scientists within Marine Scotland approached their engineering colleagues to see if they could design an electronic version to fit inside their Bongo net. Ideally, there were looking for something which was lighter and easier to maintain. In addition, the new flowmeter had to switch on when it was in the water and had only to count as the sampler was retrieved from the seabed – not for the whole time it was in the water.

With the aid of a custom designed circuit, an innovative piece of programming and an bespoke built housing, our engineers met the specification! Since then, the Bongo net containing the flowmeter has been deployed successfully, each week at the coastal monitoring site off Stonehaven.

Over the years the design has been modified and an external and internal flowmeter is now fitted to a Gulf IIV mackerel egg sampler.

More information

The post Celebrating the Year of the Engineer – Going with the Flow appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Supporting science at school with a Royal Society Partnership Grant

Mon, 2018-09-10 10:00

Data LoggersOur Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory in Pitlochry and Breadalbane Academy  in Aberfeldy are celebrating after receiving a Royal Society Partnership Grant, allowing them to work together on a project to explore the effects of hydro dams on river temperatures in the school’s local catchment, the River Tay.

Royal Society Partnership Grants support schools to enable students to carry out projects in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM subjects), in partnership with a STEM organisation (research or industry). The Royal Society identify successful projects as those which provide students with insights into cutting edge developments in STEM fields, improved perceptions of the diversity of STEM professions and participation in an investigation in which they can feel a personal ownership and pride.

In our collaboration, a number of possible research investigations for S3 students have been proposed, which have the potential to evolve in their duration and complexity. The Royal Society Grant allows Breadalbane Academy to purchase 20 data loggers to monitor river temperature and a field laptop computer for to help monitor their deployment and to download the information they receive and Marine Scotland will be providing the remaining hardware required to anchor loggers in rivers and software to deploy and download loggers.

In addition, Marine Scotland will also provide critical support to ensure data quality and provide centralised data storage and recalibration for the data-loggers. Support is also being provided by Tay District Salmon Fishery Board who will share their knowledge of the river catchment and assist with logger deployment.

This project provides a platform for a long-term partnership between Marine Scotland, Breadalbane Academy and the Tay District Salmon Fishery Board and all parties will benefit from the from data collectedf

Further Information

The post Supporting science at school with a Royal Society Partnership Grant appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Amazing Footage at Half-landing for Survey 1218S

Fri, 2018-09-07 09:00

It’s Monday the 3rd of September and since the last blog post the team here have been squirreling away, successfully collecting video data from all of the planned stations at Rosemary Bank Seamount and are starting to collect still photos and video from Wyville Thomson Ridge. The weather has delayed us a little on this goal but we are back on track, and steaming ahead aiming to collect as much data as we possibly can before we come in to the half landing at Ullapool.

The half landing is anticipated by all staff by this point as stocks of chocolate and crisps have run dangerously low! Additionally at the half landing we will be bidding farewell to all but one of our MSS and JNCC colleagues but welcoming six new JNCC staff to the ship. With the promise of replenishing our snack food stock and a chance to stretch our legs on a little less wobbly footing; it is safe to say that everyone is looking forward to those 24 hours on dry land.

After the half landing it will be a race against the clock with only eight days left on the survey to try and gather as much data as possible from the two sites we plan to revisit; Wyville Thomson Ridge and Faroe Shetland Sponge Belt. The drop-frame camera system is the weapon of choice for finding out all we can about the animals that live in these two protected areas and catching a glimpse into the world they inhabit. If the chariot footage is any indication, the staff joining Scotia are in for a real treat with the diversity of the marine life and habitats within these two sites and the amazing footage we have already seen.

Further Information:

The post Amazing Footage at Half-landing for Survey 1218S appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Reality TV at its Best

Thu, 2018-09-06 11:00

Survey: 1318A MRV Alba na Mara

Duration: 25th August – 10th September 2018

MRV Alba na Mara left Fraserburgh on Sunday the 26th of August, a day later than planned due to poor weather, to begin survey 1318A – the ‘Annual Nephrops Underwater TV (UWTV) Survey’. The areas to be covered are Moray Firth and Firth of Forth; first stop is the Moray Firth. TV operations went well for the first few days of the survey under the watchful eye of the long-standing Scientist-in-Charge (SIC) Adrian Weetman and Engineer Mike Watson.

On the 30th of August Alba na Mara returned to port for a changeover of scientists. After taking part in the UWTV survey for five years and shadowing Adrian for two, both Katie Boyle and Gerry Mc Allister were excited to take on the joint role of SIC for the second part of the survey. All TV stations in the Moray Firth were completed and after a well-deserved rest day for Engineer Mike in sunny Fraserburgh the Alba na Mara began her journey south to the Firth of Forth.

The post Reality TV at its Best appeared first on Marine Scotland.

The Latest News from Survey 1218S

Wed, 2018-09-05 11:23

It is 3am and we’re on our way to Rosemary Bank. We’ve had three nights of towing the chariot across the different depths at Faroe Shetland Sponge Belt and three days of sampling the fish and benthic fauna with trawls, and we’ve seen lots of sponges, bizarre invertebrates, and fish. We’ve recorded lots of video of the sea bed and it’s building up a good picture of the depths at which the narrow band of sponges starts and finishes.

We’re now looking in a little bit more detail at some of the data we have gathered whilst we’re steaming to Rosemary Bank; so we will have a better idea of where to deploy our drop camera on the second leg of the survey which will be revisiting the sponge belt for a closer look.

We should arrive at Rosemary Bank in a few hours, hopefully with enough time to complete a chariot tow before our shift ends. The weather forecast doesn’t look too good for the middle of this week- the swell is expected to increase to 3.5m, which will be too high to operate the chariot effectively. It’s likely that we will lose one night of survey time due to this, so we will need to re-evaluate our plans.

We have begun our depth stratified trawl transect that will take us from the warm NE Atlantic waters of the Rockall Basin, up and over the Wyville Thomson Ridge and then down into the Arctic-influenced water of the Faroe-Bank Channel. We have begun the transect some 30 miles east of Rosemary Seamount and have so far undertaken a line of trawls at depths of approximately: 1800m, 1600m, 1200m and 1200m working north. We have encountered diverse assemblages of fish at each depth, two of which are shown here:

Fish assemblage from 1200m depth

Fish assemblage from 1200m depth -Blog

Fish assemblage from 1800m depth

Fish assemblage from 1800m depth - Blog

Further Information:

The post The Latest News from Survey 1218S appeared first on Marine Scotland.

How Mature are Nephrops?

Tue, 2018-09-04 10:00

Survey : 1318A MRV Alba na MaraFigure 1 Proposed Moray Firth TV stations 1318A

Duration: 25 August – 10 September 2018


  • Obtain estimates of the distribution and abundance of Nephrops burrows in the Firth of Forth and the Moray Firth using underwater cameras.
  • Use the TV footage to record the occurrence of other benthic fauna and evidence of commercial trawling activity.
  • Collect trawl caught samples of Nephrops for comparison of reproductive condition and morphometrics in each of the different survey areas.
  • Collect samples of Nephrops for a PHD student from the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway for a study on density-dependent effects on Nephrops maturity.
  • If time permits, deployments of the sledge followed by the drop-frame will be carried out on the same ground to compare Nephrops burrow density estimates obtained by using the two different methods.


Where possible, a random stratified approach will be adopted to investigate Nephrops burrow density in different regions of the study areas. A list of proposed stations for the survey will be made available to the ship prior to sailing.

  • TV Observations: At each station a video camera mounted on the TV sledge will be towed across the seabed, into the tide and for approximately 10 minutes at approximately one knot. Nephrops burrow abundance, other benthic fauna and signs of human activity will be recorded on to DVD. Distance traveled by the sledge, the depth at which the sledge is at and camera height from the seabed will be monitored and recorded automatically.
  • Trawling: Fishing trawls of approximately 60 minutes duration will be made within each sediment type and within each survey area. A range of biological and morphometric data will be collected on Nephrops caught.
  • Drop Frame: The drop frame will be used where conditions are not suitable for using the TV sledge, recording similar data as to that of the TV sledge.
  • Comparative Work: Following on from work carried out on previous surveys, on known Nephrops grounds, the sledge will be towed along parallel tracks approximately 200m in length (10 minutes towing time) and 100m apart. Video footage and all observed data will be recorded as usual. Following this the drop-frame will then be drifted across the same area at 90o to the sledge tracks. The frequency of this operation will depend on the weather and available time.
  • Nephrops Sample Collection:  Once all data needed by Marine Scotland Science (MSS) has been collected from the fishing trawls five Nephrops individuals per mm carapace length, ranging from the smallest to the largest, will be collected. Samples will be stored in plastic bags labeled with the length and haul information then frozen. Samples will be sent to Ireland for inclusion in a PHD study.


TV work will normally take place during daylight hours whilst trawling will take place in the evening. It is proposed that work will initially commence in the Moray Firth and then the Firth of Forth. The exact date of the half landing will be weather, location, and work dependent.

Gear to be used:

  • 80 mm prawn trawl BT 201;
  • 2 x Day grabs and 1 x sieving table;
  • Towed TV sledge;
  • 2 x 600m umbilical towing cable and cameras;
  • TV drop frame (large version);
  • Lasers and large bracket for drop frame;
  • Prawn sorting table; and
  • Go-Pro housing.

Further Information

The post How Mature are Nephrops? appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Deploying fish traps and underwater video camera frames

Mon, 2018-09-03 12:00

Survey: 1218H – MRV Actinia


Duration: 2-7 September 2018


Fishing Gear:

  • 12 fish traps (6 fleets of 2 traps)
  • 2 baited remote underwater video camera (SBRUV) frames
  • 4 LED light assemblies in GPH housing
  • 4 SJ6 Legend cameras and custom-built underwater housings



  1. To deploy fish traps over various habitat types within and around the South Arran MPA.
  2. To synchronously deploy baited remote underwater video camera frames fitted with twin cameras calibrated for post-survey photogrammetric analysis.



Fish Trap Survey: Traps will be deployed and recovered each day following a minimum soak time of six hours. The approximate positions of each end marker buoy (GPS latitude and longitude), depth (m), soak time, and bait type and quantity will be recorded. Captured fish will be released from each trap, placed inside individually labelled bags, and frozen.  Otoliths from gadoid species (cod, haddock, whiting and saithe) will be extracted back at the lab.


In addition, a small hand-held drop frame will be used to deploy a GitUp Git 2 action camera and LED Electralume light in the immediate vicinity of the fish traps. Recorded footage will be used to verify the substrate types over which the traps are positioned.


Trap station positions are shown in Figure 1 and are derived from the midpoints of those sampled during the previous survey. Latitude and longitude coordinates and depth in metres are given in Table 1a.


Stations will be surveyed depending on the prevailing weather conditions i.e. if wind strengths or wave heights are adverse, a precautionary approach will be adopted and those with adequate shelter from the weather will be selected.


SBRUV Survey: Baited stereo-camera station positions are shown in Figure 1. Latitude and longitude coordinates and depth in metres are given in Table 1b.  Each underwater camera frame will be deployed a distance sufficient to avoid any interaction with the fleet ground gear (minimum 500 m between deployments).  Two cameras oriented approximately ±6° perpendicular to the frame base will record high definition video (1080p @ 60 fps) for a nominal period of 1.5 hours.  Footage will be downloaded to external media at the end of each working day.  Species identification, relative density (MaxN) and substrate type (assessed visually) will be classified post-survey.


Further Information:



Figure 1:  Positions of fish trap and SBRUV frame deployment stations. ABC = algal-boulder-cobble; AGP = algal-gravel-pebble















Table 1a: Latitude, longitude and depth of fish trap stations.


Station Latitude (dd) Longitude (dd) Latitude (degree decimal minutes) Longitude (degree decimal minutes) Depth (m) FT_SA_30 55.571834 -5.105522 055° 4.30980’N 005° 6.33120’W 8.1 FT_SA_28 55.541795 -5.0821525 055° 2.50800’N 005° 4.92900’W 16.4 FT_SA_29 55.5425765 -5.0949135 055°32.55480’N 005° 5.69460’W 19.5 FT_SA_26 55.529817 -5.1163075 055° 1.78920’N 005° 6.97860’W 29.0 FT_SA_24 55.5222455 -5.109445 055°31.33500’N 005° 6.56700’W 19.8 FT_SA_23 55.5135705 -5.0803365 055° 0.81420’N 005° 4.82040’W 24.6 FT_SA_02 55.483715 -5.355521 055° 9.02260’N 005° 21.33120’W 21.8 FT_SA_01 55.48774 -5.3400675 055° 9.26440’N 005°20.40420’W 7.7 FT_SA_03 55.4702175 -5.348869 055° 8.21320’N 005°20.93220’W 21.4 FT_SA_04 55.454247 -5.3239035 055° 7.25500’N 005° 9.43400’W 10.9 FT_SA_05 55.4197675 -5.2975295 055°25.18620’N 005° 17.85180’W 26.6 FT_SA_06 55.4252095 -5.27796 055° 5.51260’N 005° 16.67760’W 23.9 FT_SA_07 55.436956 -5.273633 055° 6.21760’N 005° 16.41780’W 10.1 FT_SA_09 55.4305955 -5.2456235 055° 5.83600’N 005° 4.73720’W 11.7 FT_SA_08 55.4236585 -5.2309865 055° 5.41960’N 005° 3.85940’W 26.1 FT_SA_10 55.434217 -5.163025 055° 6.05320’N 005° 9.78180’W 12.2 FT_SA_11 55.431344 -5.1419955 055° 5.88040’N 005° .52000’W 16.7 FT_SA_12 55.42086 -5.1424225 055° 5.25160’N 005° 8.54520’W 19.1 FT_SA_22 55.514989 -5.0921875 055° 0.89940’N 005° 5.53140’W 33.0 FT_SA_21 55.5021825 -5.079309 055° 0.13080’N 005° 4.75860’W 9.0 FT_SA_19 55.492743 -5.0838765 055° 9.56440’N 005° 5.03280’W 15.5 FT_SA_17 55.4827305 -5.0838915 055° 8.96380’N 005° 5.03340’W 22.5 FT_SA_15 55.472405 -5.0793065 055° 8.34460’N 005° 4.75860’W 18.0 FT_SA_13 55.4435285 -5.088031 055° 6.61180’N 005° 5.28180’W 21.2 FT_SA_25 55.5285975 -5.107335 055° 1.71600’N 005° 6.43980’W 31.8 FT_SA_27 55.529768 -5.0920965 055° 1.78620’N 005° 5.52600’W 24.7 FT_SA_20 55.4970525 -5.0847825 055° 9.82300’N 005°5.08680’W 6.9 FT_SA_18 55.4892025 -5.0873585 055° 9.35200’N 005° 5.24160’W 10.5 FT_SA_16 55.4790105 -5.083323 055° 8.74060’N 005° 4.99920’W 20.3 FT_SA_14 55.463094 -5.0743115 055° 7.78540’N 005° 4.45860’W 13.3


Table 1b: Latitude, longitude & depth of SBRUV stations.

Station Latitude (dd) Longitude (dd) Latitude (degree decimal minutes) Longitude (degree decimal minutes) Depth (m) BUC_SA_30 55.5676598 -5.100325216 055°34.05960’N 005° 06.01980′ W 16.6 BUC_SA_28 55.54679263 -5.083958865 055° 32.80740’N 005° 05.03760′ W 2.8 BUC_SA_29 55.5394409 -5.10212543 055° 32.36640’N 005° 06.12780′ W 22.0 BUC_SA_26 55.5338162 -5.1109673 055° 32.02920’N 005° 06.65820′ W 23.7 BUC_SA_24 55.52674338 -5.105425626 055° 31.60440’N 005° 06.32580′ W 34.1 BUC_SA_23 55.51423771 -5.089287447 055° 30.85440’N 005° 05.35740′ W 32.0 BUC_SA_02 55.48821573 -5.359906381 055° 29.29320’N 005° 21.59460′ W 21.4 BUC_SA_01 55.48375268 -5.334356111 055° 29.02500’N 005° 20.06160′ W 8.1 BUC_SA_03 55.46981638 -5.339776718 055° 28.18920’N 005° 20.38680′ W 13.5 BUC_SA_04 55.44979116 -5.31936525 055° 26.98740’N 005° 19.16220’W 10.3 BUC_SA_05 55.421297 -5.306236871 055° 25.27800’N 005° 18.37440’W 26.3 BUC_SA_06 55.42543066 -5.268942092 055° 25.52580′ N 005° 16.13640’W 22.9 BUC_SA_07 55.439767 -5.28142077 055° 26.38620’N 005° 16.88520′ W 12.1 BUC_SA_09 55.4309735 -5.236362028 055° 25.85820’N 005° 14.18160’W 10.2 BUC_SA_08 55.4233318 -5.240229625 055° 25.39980’N 005° 14.41380’W 26.0 BUC_SA_10 55.43553868 -5.154262826 055° 26.13240′ N 005° 09.25560’W 14.0 BUC_SA_11 55.43348835 -5.134189614 055° 26.00940′ N 005° 08.05140’W 13.5 BUC_SA_12 55.42364421 -5.150338448 055° 25.41840′ N 005° 09.02040’W 25.2 BUC_SA_22 55.51915725 -5.097426641 055° 31.14960′ N 005° 05.84580’W 37.7 BUC_SA_21 55.50663853 -5.074958452 055° 30.39840’N 005° 04.49760’W 32.1 BUC_SA_19 55.49788391 -5.083097538 055° 29.87280’N 005° 04.98600’W 8.8 BUC_SA_17 55.47780046 -5.081592656 055° 28.66800’N 005° 04.89540’W 22.2 BUC_SA_15 55.47719321 -5.082298715 055° 28.63140′ N 005° 04.93800’W 18.3 BUC_SA_13 55.44770986 -5.082806917 055° 26.86260’N 005° 04.96860’W 27.8 BUC_SA_25 55.52551086 -5.100111373 055° 31.53060′ N 005° 06.00660’W 36.0 BUC_SA_27 55.52511996 -5.088283019 055° 31.50720′ N 005° 05.29680’W 34.2 BUC_SA_20 55.50177737 -5.081379485 055° 30.10680’N 005° 04.88280’W 4.3 BUC_SA_18 55.49423209 -5.086251656 055° 29.65380’N 005° 05.17500’W 7.8 BUC_SA_16 55.47418512 -5.080096623 055° 28.45140′ N 005° 04.80600’W 19.3 BUC_SA_14 55.46815219 -5.073800924 055° 28.08900’N 005° 04.42800’W 24.8


The post Deploying fish traps and underwater video camera frames appeared first on Marine Scotland.

SACs of Sponges

Mon, 2018-09-03 10:00

Survey: 1218S MRV Scotia

Duration: 21 August – 15 September 2018

Introduction:1218S Map 1 Location of 1218S survey areas

This survey programme outlines the monitoring survey requirements, following discussion between the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and Marine Scotland Science (MSS), for three Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Scottish waters which are:

  • Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt NCMPA (FSSB),
  • Wyville Thompson Ridge SAC (WTR), and
  • Rosemary Bank Seamount NCMPA (RB).

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (NCMPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designed to meet conservation objectives under the Marine (Scotland) Act (2010) and EC Habitats Directive (1992) respectively. These sites will contribute to an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas across the north-east Atlantic.

Main Objectives:

Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt:

1. Measure rate and direction of long-term change (type one monitoring) using VMUX towed video chariot and Drop-frame fitted with high definition cameras.

2. Update and extend coverage of previous demersal trawl time series in vicinity of FSSB.

3. Obtain samples of sponge community from FSSB for classification, molecular studies, identifications, and to provide baseline data on hydrocarbon levels in FSSB sponge tissue.

Rosemary Bank Seamount:

4. Measure rate and direction of long-term change (type one monitoring) on north, east, and south slopes of RB using VMUX and Drop-frame fitted with high definition cameras.

5. Update demersal trawl time series on RB on historical stations between 600-1100 m depth plus another at 2100 m, time permitting.

6. Obtain samples of sponge community for classification, molecular studies, identifications, and to provide baseline data on hydrocarbon levels in RB sponge tissue.

Wyville Thompson Ridge:1218S Map 2 Idealised illustration of trawl stations to west of WTR SAC

7. Measure rate and direction of long-term change (type one monitoring) using drop-frame fitted with high definition cameras.
8. Scope out and undertake a series of depth stratified trawls on suitable grounds to the west of the SAC taking in the North Rockall Basin, Wyville Tomson Ridge and Faroe-Bank Channel.

Additional Objectives:

9. Trial and assess performance of Aquatracker.
10. Obtain tissue of selected fish for barcoding.
11. Sample benthic fauna using Agassiz using trawl ground-gear bags in selected areas.


The survey will consist of two legs:

  • The first leg will consist of 12-hour shifts of visual survey using VMUX chariot and drop-frame interspersed with 12-hour shifts of trawling or other sampling. This leg will start at FSSB (projected duration four days), continue at RB (five days) then WTR (three days). Fishing and Agassiz trawl sampling operations will generally be carried out between 1200-2400 and camera work between 0000-1200.
  • The second leg will consist of round-the-clock visual surveying with the drop-frame and will take place again at WRT (three days) and finally back to FSSB (four days).

Objectives 1, 4 and 7: In the FSSB the first TV transects will be made with the chariot. These will consist of 9 km runs; perpendicular to the depth contours within the 400-600 m depth range (where the sponges are expected to occur) to ascertain distribution and extent of the feature. A further set of 200 m runs will be made with the drop-frame, during the second leg, to provide high definition footage for species and density analysis.

At RB the chariot will again be used to clarify the distribution and extent of the sponge feature on the northern and southern slopes. Time permitting, other seamount communities may be targeted with the chariot. A further set of 200 m drop-frame runs will be made at the site of the 2014 ‘MoreDeep’ visual survey on the eastern slope of RB for high definition footage as above.

At WTR where this work is a continuation from that already achieved during cruise 1517S last year this objective will be met by 200 m drop-frame runs only.

Objectives 2, 5 and 8: Demersal trawl data will be used as baselines to assess the future status of the protected area. All demersal trawls will be away from sponge aggregations and other Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem (VME) habitats. Trawling will take place on stations in Faroe-Shetland Channel over a depth range of 300-1500 m. These will mainly be outside FSSB. However, two (providing times-series data) are inside. These are deliberately placed well away from the spongebelt and have historically negligible bycatch of VME indicator species.

At RB, demersal trawling will take the form of historical fixed stations which provide important time-series data and which again have historically demonstrated little or no VME bycatch. A potential new site to begin a depth-stratified time-series data will be sought out to the west of WTR; this will include hauls on suitable sediments in the Faroe-Bank Channel (Faroese waters), Wyville-Tomson Ridge, and North Rockall Basin. Map 2 shows an idealised version of how these trawl sites may look. Reality will depend on what sites are available to trawl.

All demersal haul durations are expected to be a maximum of 30 minutes. The ground-gear net will be attached and deployed on an opportunistic basis during demersal trawling to obtain samples of the invertebrates.

Objectives 3 and 6: Short (nominally three minute) hauls with 2 m Agassiz trawl will be undertaken in FSSB and RB to obtain samples of the sponge community. Trawls will be away from areas of type one monitoring.

A summary of expected demersal and Agassiz trawl deployments is presented in Table 1.

All fish species will be identified, weighed and measured. Invertebrate species will be identified and counted and/or weighed.

During leg 1 the Aquatracker and large Van Veen Grab will be deployed on an opportunistic basis.

Gear (Full Survey):

  • VMUX towed video chariot with HD camera system and integrated CTD (Conductivity/temperature/depth logger);
  • Drop-frame with HD camera system and integrated CTD;
  • Ranger 2 USBL positioning system; and
  • Large Van Veen grab.

Gear (Part 1):

  •  2 x Jackson BT 184 bottom trawl;
  •  2 x ground-gear bag nets (centre section only);
  • 2 x pairs Morgere ovalfoil trawl doors;
  • 2 x Agassiz benthic sampling trawl;
  •  Scanmar trawl sensors;
  • Bottom contact sensor;
  • Conductivity/temperature/depth logger (CTD DST logger); and
  • Aquatracker.

Gear (Part 2):

  • 2 x 0.1m2 Hamon grabs;
  • 1 x 0.25m2 Hamon grab; and
  • Large Van Veen grab.


  • Ethanol;
  • Formaldehyde;
  • 10% Formo-saline; and
  • Borax.

Further Information:

The post SACs of Sponges appeared first on Marine Scotland.

Come on in; our Doors are (nearly) Open!

Fri, 2018-08-31 09:00

Huge fish mouthWe are very proud (and quite excited) to announce that the Marine Laboratory will be participating in Doors Open Day (again) this year. Joining countless other hidden gems in Aberdeen City we will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday 8 September which also corresponds with the first day of the Aberdeen Techfest public programme.Jelly agar with hundreds and thousands

Last year Marine Scotland (MS) colleagues provided a doors open day event with a twist that saw us join forces with the Stonehaven Tolbooth Museum to highlight our monitoring and sampling work within the Scottish Coastal Observatory.

This year, to coincide with Year of the Engineer and Year of Young People we will be giving visitors an inside view of the type of work that goes at the Marine Laboratory.

We will have a host of exhibits, displays, and interactive experiments in addition to guided tours around specific areas of our campus.

Visitors will also have the chance to:

  • take part in sweetie science;
  • experience life onboard the Scotia,
  • try their hand at otolith reading,
  • identify species on our fisheries CCTV, and
  • get up close with some fishy friends residing in our Fish House.

We look forward to seeing you there!




Further Information:

The post Come on in; our Doors are (nearly) Open! appeared first on Marine Scotland.