Scottish Government Blogs

September 5, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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Crossing the edge: from coastal seas to open ocean

By Bee Berx

The Faroe Shetland Channel (FSC) is a key connection between the Atlantic Ocean and the Nordic Seas.  The flow of warm, saline Atlantic water polewards, and the underlying equatorward cold overflow are important branches of the Atlantic overturning circulation.  Marine Scotland Science (MSS), in collaboration with the Faroese Marine Research Institute (FAMRI) and University of Bergen (UiB), has contributed to North Atlantic monitoring for a number of years.  Traditionally, this work has involved ship-based surveys measuring temperature, salinity and the flow of water throughout the water column.

Image courtesy of Sarah Hughes, MSS

The drifters line up at the race start line (50 m drogued drifters are on the left hand side, 1 m drogued ones are to the right).

In May 2014, researchers from MSS and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) deployed ocean drifters during a research cruise aboard MRV Scotia to observe the Scottish slope current and its variability.  Ten drifters were drogued at 1 m depth (this means they are designed to be pushed along by the currents at this depth), and 15 were drogued at 50 m depth.  A satellite tracker at the water surface transmits the drifter’s GPS position to our computers, allowing us to remotely track their progress.  During the summer, the drifter race was broadcast via the drifters’ own webpages (see embedded links above), as well as via regular Twitter updates.  There is still time to catch up with their story by visiting our Storify page.

Although drifters can provide valuable information on the region’s circulation, they are passive, and once released scientists are unable to influence their path.  This is not the case for the more recently developed gliders, which can be directed by scientists from land.  During summer 2014, two gliders were deployed to observe key physical parameters along one of the standard hydrographic monitoring lines (the Fair Isle Munken line).  In May 2014, Knockando was deployed from MRV Scotia, and the scientists from SAMS piloted the glider to travel between the Faroe and Shetland Isles.  During its deployment, the glider was also instructed to hold position near one of the moored current meters.  The strong currents in the region meant this was no mean feat to achieve.  In August 2014, MPV Jura–one of Marine Scotland Compliance’s vessels- helped recover Knockando when she ran into trouble in the FSC at the start of August.  The experienced crew then assisted with the deployment and recovery of the second glider: Orca from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Image courtesy of George Slesser, MSS

Dr Marie Porter (SAMS) and glider Knockando

Unfortunately, this second deployment had to be cut short, but this close collaboration between scientists from MSS, SAMS and UEA, as well as the involvement of Marine Scotland Compliance officers and crew, saw the first successful deployment of gliders in the Faroe Shetland Channel.  An experience we hope to build on in the near future.

Acknowledgements: This work was done in collaboration with Dr Marie Porter, Prof Mark Inall and the SAMS glider team, and Dr Rob Hall and the UEA glider team. We are very grateful to MPV Jura’s officers and crew for the safe return of both Knockando and Orca.

September 5, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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New measures to control trade in some shark and ray species

From 14th September new trade restrictions will be in place to protect populations of some sharks and ray species.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has added six shark and ray species to Appendix II. Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.

The species listed are:

  • porbeagle (Lamna nasus)
  • oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)
  • scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini)
  • great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran)
  • smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena)
  • manta rays (Manta spp.)

For further information on these new trade measures please visit the UK government website.

Other Links: CITES website

September 3, 2014
by SG Admin
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International Marketing and PR need you!

Are you passionate about PR?

Are you enthusiastic about overseas engagement?

Do you have at least five years’ experience in a communications, marketing or PR role?

We’ve lost a member of our team to the bright lights of Aberdeen, so we’re looking to replace a temporary PR and International Brand manager.

It would be a 2 year contract working within SG marketing on our international portfolio including high profile projects such as Scotland Week, Scotland’s Winter Festivals, and associated social media.

So if you work in a communications, PR or marketing role with a strong background in social media and integrated campaigns (and a good grasp on public sector and government communications) get in touch with us at for a full job description.

September 2, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Erin’s aiming to ride high on the Crest of a wave

Erin Warner

Erin Warner

Erin Warner, a 6th year pupil from South Uist, has become the latest pupil to enjoy a six week placement with Marine Scotland Science (MMS), through the Nuffield Science Bursary Programme. The six-week Nuffield Foundation Science Bursaries allow pupils to spend a summer working alongside practicing scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Erin, who was 17 when she took part in the project, said:

“I hope to study all three sciences and go on to study Marine Science when I leave.  Near the end of my 5th year, I was made conscious of the Nuffield scheme and applied for a Nuffield Bursary and the opportunity to complete a project at Marine Scotland’s Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen. I was thrilled to be given my own project, where I would attempt to discover whether there is enough food for sandeels in the Firth of Forth.

I have always had a keen interest in biology and chemistry, and have been fascinated by the sea and what it could contain for many years  – much helped by the fact that I live on South Uist and am constantly surround by the vast Atlantic Ocean.  The project was rather daunting at first; there were a lot of things that I didn’t have a clue about. However, over the six week period, I became aware of a lot of the issues surrounding sandeels and their food, and learning why this part of the food web is so important.  After much sorting of samples, and collecting data, I finally had the knowledge to produce a report and poster on the subject!

Right the way through the project I learned a huge deal about the subject and gained a priceless insight into scientific research and techniques used in real life.  It has definitely lead to encourage me to study marine science in the future, and maybe even make it back to the lab someday.

Although my mentors, Dr Kathryn Cook and John Dunn, were very busy themselves, they helped immensely with explaining every step of the process, giving me the encouragement and confidence I needed to complete this project and produce a useful piece of work.”

Over the last eight years, MSS has collaborated with the Nuffield foundation to provide projects which can be undertaken by a capable school student with supervision from MSS scientists. The projects are all jobs that MSS needs to have done, so the student has to produce a scientific report and a poster on the project , to the satisfaction of both Nuffield and MSS.

The posters and reports are showcased in a celebration event held by Nuffield at Surgeon’s hall in Edinburgh, where successful students  are presented with certificates, and hear presentations from former Nuffield students and a prestigious scientific guest speaker.

Erin has now entered her successful Nuffield project for a Crest award, and later on this year she will enter the Big Bang competition which will be held in Manchester next year. The Big Bang is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK and is by invitation only, drawing on pupils who have achieved scientific excellence from all over the United Kingdom, to have their work judged by a committee of experts in each scientific discipline and age group.

Crest awards and the British Association for Science awards are scrutinised by professional scientists in the particular field that the student has worked in , and are not awarded lightly. Colleges and Universities now use these awards to help them choose potential students.

Previous MSS students have featured both in Nuffield literature and on their website, and that they have also gone on to win the Big Bang out right, and the tomorrow’s water competition, as well as representing  the United Kingdom at international events.

August 29, 2014
by Fiona Comrie
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Stage 1 report published

The creation of Food Standards Scotland as a stand-alone public body in Scotland has received support from the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, in their Stage 1 report. MSPs have asked for more detail on certain aspects of the Bill, which the programme team will provide in the coming weeks. You can read the Committee’s press release and the full report here.

The next stage for the Bill is the Stage 1 debate in the Scottish Parliament. You can read more about the progress of the Food (Scotland) Bill here.

August 29, 2014
by SG Admin
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Leaving the Car!

Elaine Mitchell – Strategy & Finance Officer

Inspired by the Active Travel campaign, I have set myself the personal challenge of reducing car use for four weeks in September to see what difference this will make to me personally and to my carbon footprint.

Being brought up in a semi-rural area where public transport was inconvenient, owning and running a car has long been second nature. Taking my foot off the pedal and hopping on a bus will be alien to me and something I have not done for over 15 years.

Continue Reading →

August 26, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Scotlands Environment Website want your views!

At Scotland’s Environment website, they want to make sure you get the best experience when visiting.

They’re currently running a website survey , so why not pop over and tell them what you think and let them know if you have any ideas for further improvements or changes?

This only takes a few minutes and we value your feedback.

August 25, 2014
by SG Admin
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Behind the Scenes @Scotland

Rowan Hendry-Horne – International Marketing Assistant

There was a flurry of excitement in February when a representative from Twitter arrived at St Andrew’s House in possession of a much sought after Twitter handle: @Scotland.

The International Marketing team put together a proposal for how we would use @Scotland as a representative voice of Scotland. Partially inspired by the curatorial style of the @Sweden account, the intention was to engage people with the real Scotland, rather than the one shown in guidebooks.

We immediately started talking to our contacts like @edfringe, @VisitScotland, @peoplemakeGLA to source people who could provide interesting and engaging content which you might not otherwise see.

Launched just days before the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the @Scotland Twitter account opened with peeks inside Glasgow during the Games. Continue Reading →

August 25, 2014
by Fiona Comrie
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New food body- recruitment of the Chair

In a non-Ministerial Office like Food Standards Scotland, the Board provides strategic direction and leadership. With seven months to go until the new food body is live, we are seeking applications for the Chair of the Board.

The Chair will provide leadership to the Board, building a confident and effective team with the ability and will to develop an innovative and Scotland-centred strategy that will make a positive impact on Scottish public health and consumer confidence. The Chair will be appointed in advance of the launch of the new body and will take part in planning for the transition from FSA to Food Standards Scotland.

The Chair will lead a Board that will develop and articulate a clear vision and strategic direction for Food Standards Scotland, establishing its authority and raising its profile as the new organisation responsible in Scotland for food safety, standards and nutrition. The Chair will be accountable to Scottish Parliament for the strategic performance of Food Standards Scotland. You will develop a strong and supportive working relationship with the chief executive, to ensure that the organisation delivers its objectives and making the most effective and efficient use of resources.

We are seeking applicants with a variety of background and skills, including Leadership, Developing a Team, Strategic Planning and Performance Review, Governance, Understanding the Scottish context, Consumer focus, Judgement, Engagement and Influencing Skills, Communications. If you have the relevant skills and experience and are interested in a challenging and rewarding role in a new Scottish organisation that you will help shape, we would like to hear from you. The application pack can be viewed here.