Marine Scotland blog

News from Marine Scotland

October 29, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Vacancy: Assistant Marine Chemist Full-time (Closes 11th November)

The main role of this post is to undertake chemical and physical analyses of water, sediment and biota in support of Marine Scotland priority work areas such as marine licensing, ocean acidification, climate adaptation and environmental assessments for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and OSPAR.

This post involves collection, logging, preparation and analysis of environmental samples.  In particular, the post holder will be required to analyse water samples for chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen and assist in the determination of marine carbonate chemistry parameters.  In addition the post will require the physical analyses of sediment (particle size by laser granulometry organic carbon) and lipid determination of biota samples. The post holder will undertake procedures which are accredited to ISO 17025 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, and will be expected to maintain appropriately high standards.

October 30, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 2014A Programme

Duration: 4-16 November 2014

Figure 1 - Track executed by MRV Alba na Mara on the Clyde Herring Acoustic Survey Oct12

Figure 1 - Track executed by MRV Alba na Mara on the Clyde Herring Acoustic Survey Oct12

Objectives:
  1. To conduct an acoustic survey designed to survey both the open and enclosed areas of the Clyde to ultimately provide an estimate of the abundance and distribution of herring and sprat.
  2. To obtain samples of herring and sprat for biological analysis, including age, length, weight, sex, maturity and ichthyophonus infection.
  3. All other species caught will be measured for length and weight to establish a length weight relationship.
  4. To gather passive acoustic data using a towed acoustic array to assess the presence of cetaceans.

Procedure:
The track will be similar to that carried out during the same survey in 2012 (Figure 1) with modifications being made to target areas where herring are likely to be, based on information obtained from MS Compliance during the survey.  The survey will involve following a pre-set survey pattern, at a steaming speed between six and eight knots.

Trawling operations will be carried out as and when marks are identified.  Otoliths will be collected from a sub-sample of the herring and sprat to determine age.  The maturity state and presence of Icthyophonus infection will also be recorded.

The acoustic array will be deployed throughout the survey, unless the vessel is in an area of short transects requiring tight manoeuvrability.

October 29, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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Marine Scotland & JNCC do joint research

Marine Scotland Science and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have joined up to do some research at the Solan Bank Reef Site of Community Importance (SCI) in Scottish offshore waters. Solan Bank Reef is one of 20 offshore candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC) in UK offshore waters. The site is designated for Annex I reef (sub-types ‘bedrock’ and ‘stony’ reef).

On the 27 October 2014, five JNCC staff joined the MRV Scotia to work with scientists from Marine Scotland Science. They will undertake a detailed survey of the Solan Bank Reef SCI to gather seabed evidence to inform the development of a national indicator of ‘Good Environmental Status’ for sponge and other epifaunal communities (http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-6817) as part of the UK’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

As the indicator metrics were developed for SCUBA diver surveys, the survey hopes to determine whether these can be adapted for use in deeper waters, particularly for estimating the abundance of different sponge morphologies. The survey team will be using a drop down camera system to collect high definition seabed imagery in order to assess changes in sponge and other epifaunal communities in response to natural variables and human-induced pressures.

Data on environmental parameters which could contribute to community structure (e.g. turbidity, temperature, current flow and direction) will be collected, and imagery data collected will also help improve our understanding of the distribution and extent of Annex I reef in the site and the biological communities associated with them.

JNCC has created an offshore survey blog to keep people up to date with work we’re carrying out gathering evidence to underpin our work on MPA and wider monitoring and assessment. JNCC staff will regularly update the blog, sharing information and images from the survey.

October 29, 2014
by Lyndsay Cruickshank
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MRV Scotia: Survey 1714S – Cruise Programme

Figure 1 - Solan Bank SAC

Figure 1 - Solan Bank SAC

Duration: 28 October – 10 November 2014

Gear: 

  • Sonardyne Scout Plus USBL
  • Sonardyne omni-directional transponder
  • TV drop frame with lasers, SEA LED lights and wiring harness
  • Kongsberg 14-408 digital camera system (X2)
  • Kongsberg 14-208 digital camera system
  • Kongsberg 14-366 TV camera system
  • SUBC 1-CAM Alpha HD camera system
  • Net-sonde cable
  • VMUX controller
  • 450m polyurethane cable
  • Seabird 911 CTD with fluorescence and turbidity sensors
  • Hull mounted ADCP

Objectives:

The aim of the survey is to gather seabed evidence to inform development of a national indicator of ‘Good Environmental Status’ as part of the UK’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).  Solan Bank Reef is located approximately 50 km north of Cape Wrath on the Scottish mainland (see Figure 1).

The majority of the site lies in water depths of 60-80 m, however, to the south east of the site an outcrop of bedrock reef rises to approximately 20 m below the sea surface.  The objectives of the survey are (listed in order of priority):

  • To gather high resolution video and still images along transects and from quadrats throughout Solan Bank using a TV drop frame system (see Figures 2 and 3).
  • To gather environmental data using a CTD (salinity, temperature, depth, fluorescence and turbidity) from the same area.
  • To gather high resolution underwater video and stills data to update existing substrate maps of the site
  • To log ADCP data (current speed and direction) from throughout the area of interest.

Procedure:

Figure 2 - Targeted Stations

Figure 2 - Targeted Stations

After completion of safety drills and exercises, Scotiawill proceed northwards to the vicinity of the Southern Trench where gear testing will be undertaken.  The vessel will then make passage to Solan Bank and commence sampling on the targeted sampling station grid (see Figure 2) and on the stratified random sampling stations (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Stratified Stations

Figure 3 - Stratified Stations

The TV drop-frame with attached CTD will be deployed at each station allowing simultaneous logging of imagery and environmental data (temperature, salinity, fluorometry and turbidity).  Surface salinity samples will also be collected from the water sampling lab as required.

In the event of downtime because of weather or completion of the two primary objectives, further sampling will be carried out on the habitat mapping stations (see Figure 4).
Figure 4 - Contingency Habitat Mapping Stations

Figure 4 - Contingency Habitat Mapping Stations

ADCP data may be also be collected from positions within the survey boxes as illustrated in Figure 6, the actual latitude and longitude data for these stations will be provided while at sea.  Depending on the severity of weather conditions and wind direction, further contingency sampling for SNH may be carried out as detailed in Figure 5.

Figure 5 - SNH Contingency Stations

Figure 5 - SNH Contingency Stations

Figure 6 - ADCP positions within fishing activity boxes

Figure 6 - ADCP positions within fishing activity boxes

 

 

October 20, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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New topic sheet published: EMBRC

EUROPEAN MARINE BIOLOGICAL RESOURCE CENTRE (EMBRC) logo

EUROPEAN MARINE BIOLOGICAL RESOURCE CENTRE (EMBRC) logo

Through its members the EMBRC will provide access to European coastal seas and the extensive range of marine organisms that it contains. In addition, with having both the expertise and necessary specialist facilities, it will become the major European provider of marine biological research infrastructure and related services, championing the future sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources.

October 17, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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European Plans for the Ocean Energy Sector – October 2014

The European Commission has developed a two-step action plan to support the emerging ocean energy sector in Europe. In the first phase (2014 – 2016), an Ocean Energy Forum will be set up, which will bring together stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of the problems and to develop solutions. It will focus on building capacity and critical mass, and on fostering cooperation. The outcomes of the Forum will feed into a strategic roadmap, which will provide an agreed blueprint for action in order to help the ocean energy sector move towards industrialisation.

In the second phase (2017 – 2020) a European industrial initiative could be developed, based on the outcomes of the Ocean Energy Forum. European industrial initiatives are public-private partnerships that bring together industry, researchers, Member States and the Commission to set out and implement clear and shared objectives over a specific timeframe. They enhance the impact of innovative research and development and provide a platform for sharing investment risk.

The development of the Ocean Energy Forum is still at an early stage. However, it is proceeding against an ambitious agenda set by the Commission to develop 100GW of ocean energy by 2050. In support of this agenda, a comprehensive infrastructure fund will be put in place to tackle issues such as the provision of a strategic grid network.

More on the Ocean Energy Forum here

http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/policy/ocean_energy/forum/index_en.htm

Article by Andronikos Kafas

October 13, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 1714A – Cruise Report

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure”. Herman Melville, Moby Dick.

A good book on a long sea trip is often a good source of inspiration. Finding and identifying rare marine species hidden beneath the azure of the Sea of the Hebrides is not, as might be expected, an easy task, but for the last three weeks the Alba na Mara has been doing just that.

When the capricious weather has decided to be kind, and at times it seldom felt like it would, we used the ship’s underwater camera system to survey several sites across the Sea of the Hebrides.  Some of these sites were home to the tall sea-pen, Funiculina quadrangularis, and during the trip we were able to locate several areas that were previously unknown to science. Our other search for the UK’s largest and rarest bivalve mollusc, the fan mussel, Atrina fagilis, was guided by computer models developed jointly by Marine Scotland and Aberdeen University. Our journey has taken us to waters over 240m in depth and to seabed varying from deep mud to rocky cliffs. Our efforts look promising but the task of revealing the sea’s hidden treasures is always a difficult one.

Phil Boulcott, Scientist in Charge
Alba na Mara Cruise 1714A

October 13, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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MRV Alba na Mara: Survey 1714A – Cruise Programme

Figure 1 - Map of the study area in the waters around the Isle of Skye
Figure 1 – Map of the study area in the waters around the Isle of Skye
Duration:

26 September – 14 October 2014

Ports: Loading in Fraserburgh, 24 September 2014 and unloading in Greenock, 14 October 2014

Personnel: Five

Gear:

  • Pyramid frame and underwater video camera kit.
  • Pyramid frame calibration mesh (2 x wire panels)
  • Large, dual bongo + counterweight + 200 µm net and cod ends
  • Large plastic fish tank (white) + grey fish tanks
  • Scanmar depth units (x2)

 

Objectives

Benthic Survey of Burrowed Mud Habitats

1714A will survey the waters around the Marine Protected Area (MPA) sited at the island of Canna (Figure 1).  Video surveys of the seabed will be carried out during this work in addition to the collection of RoxAnn sediment data.  It is the primary objective of this cruise to survey monitoring sites previously surveyed in 2012 and 2013 that support Scotland’s Priority Marine Features.  Work from these surveys will be used to determine the effect of MPAs established in Scottish waters.  A secondary objective will be to survey additional sites in the area surrounding the Small Isles and another to the north of the Isle of Skye that could provide suitable substrate for the tall sea pen, Funiculina quadrangularis, and for the fan mussel, Atrina fragilis.  These data, in conjunction with data gathered from less suitable sites, will be used to refine habitat suitability models for these species.  Species type, species densities and substrate type will be recorded during the survey.  Further post survey analysis will be conducted on this data.

Figure 2 - Map of the study area in the waters surrounding the Small Isles.

Figure 2 - Map of the study area in the waters surrounding the Small Isles.

Larval Dispersal

1714A will sample plankton from the water around Canna.  The programme of work follows on from plankton surveys conducted in June 2012 (survey 1012A), and September 2013 (1213A). Sampling will be conducted using the large (1 m diameter) dual bongo net.

Further to this work, 1714A will also retrieve a spat collecting mooring from Canna which was deployed from the MV Spanish John II on the 29April 2014. Candidate A. fragilis spat found on the spat collectors will be measured, weighed and placed in holding tanks for further cultivation in the laboratory.