Marine Scotland blog

News from Marine Scotland

May 5, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

Casting the Net via the Marine Collaboration Research Forum (MarCRF)

On Friday 24th April, MarCRF held a networking event – “Casting the Net”- to bring together marine related researchers from around Aberdeen, including from Marine Scotland Science, the University of Aberdeen, and other universities, research institutes and businesses in the area.

All participants provided profile slides which were on display throughout the event, ranging from very informative to very funny! Many participants also gave an “elevator pitch”-  a 2 minute talk on themselves, their work, or on some other marine issue close to their hearts. These were a great opportunity to sell their science or issue to the crowd, and many great discussions were had afterwards inspired by the pitches.

The event allowed researchers to meet new colleagues, and catch up with old ones, and will hopefully lead to some great new research in the future!

The event was organised by José Gonzalez-Irusta, Fiona McIntyre and Jacqui Tweddle.

May 1, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

MRV Scotia: Survey 0515S Programme

Duration: 25 April – 8 May 2015

Sea-Bird CTDs, ADCPs and current meter instrumentation, temperature mini-loggers, water filtering equipment, fridge and freezer (UoA’s), centrifuge equipment (HWU), bacteria sampling equipment (HWU), sediment sampling equipment (UoA), mooring equipment, recovery trawl, glider, sediment grabs (Hammon and Day), and sediment corers (MSS and UoA).


  1. Test the CTD in the Buchan Deep off Peterhead.
  2. Perform hydrographic sampling along the JONSIS long term monitoring section in the northern North Sea.
  3. Perform CTD stations at the ADCP moorings on the cross shelf line adjacent to the Fair Isle – Munken section.
  4. Recover and download the data recovered from the four ADCP moorings deployed on the cross shelf section, adjacent to the Fair Isle – Munken section, during 2014.
  5. Deploy three ADCP moorings at positions on Fair Isle – Munken section.
  6. Deploy and recover the dialysis (DNA) mooring for Heriot-Watt University twice during the cruise at FIM 6a location. Ideally two x three day deployments.  Take water samples at this location.
  7. Perform hydrographic sampling along the long term monitoring Faroe-Shetland Channel sections, Fair Isle – Munken and Nolso – Flugga.
  8. Take water samples for long term storage at Fair Isle – Munken section stations FIM-01 and FIM-06.
  9. Take water samples for bacteria analysis at FIM03, FIM08, NOL07, NOL08 and SEFOS (b/w NOL03 and NOL03a).
  10. Take sediment samples at or near a number of the Nolso – Flugga section stations.
  11. Take micro plastic water samples at a number of locations.
  12. Deploy SAMS glider for the BP oil spill exercise.
  13. Deploy drifters for the BP oil spill exercise (TBC).
  14. Perform a number of other hydrographic sections if time allows.
  15. Perform ship board ADCP survey if time allows.

On sailing from Aberdeen the MRV Scotia will make passage to the start of the JONSIS long term monitoring section to commence sampling with the CTD and carousel water sampler.  On route test deployments of the CTD and carousel will take place, using the newly developed deployment procedures (10 m soak).  On completion of the JONSIS section passage will be made to the start of the ADCP line across the shelf edge adjacent to the Fair Isle – Munken (FIM) section and the CTD will be deployed at each location.  After the completion of all the CTD profiles, the ADCP moorings will be recovered.

The ADCP instrumentation data will be downloaded and instruments and moorings refurbished on route to new deployment positions on the FIM section.  A CTD dip will be performed at the FIM 6a station in order to gain water samples for the DNA mooring.  On completion, Scotia will make her way to the westernmost ADCP deployment location.  Three ADCPs will be deployed at the new deep mooring locations, and a CTD profile will be carried out at each mooring position once the mooring has been deployed.  On completion of the ADCP moorings, the DNA mooring will be deployed at the FIM 6a station.  Scotia will then make her way to the start of the FIM section for the long term monitoring samples and CTD profiles to be taken.  After the FIM section, Scotia will return to station FIM 6a for the turnaround of the DNA mooring, involving recovering the mooring, performing a CTD dip and re-deploying the mooring.  Thereafter, Scotia will make way to the area on the Faroe-Cape Wrath section.

During CTD and water sampling of the Nolso-Flugga long term monitoring section, grab samples and water samples will be taken for University of Aberdeen and Heriot-Watt University visiting scientists.  Micro plastic samples will be taken opportunistically through the survey.  Upon completion of the Nolso-Flugga long term monitoring section the Glider will be deployed at a location within Scottish waters (Faroe Shetland Channel).  Scotia will then proceed to the FIM6a station to recover the DNA mooring.  Any remaining time will be spent carrying out CTD sampling the Cape Wrath – Faroe section, repeating the Fair Isle – Munken section, and performing ADCP surveys.  It is intended to leave the glider deployed.

Scotia survey 0515S map

May 1, 2015
by Ruth Allen

Marine Analytical Unit monthly update – 30 April 2015

This week’s update from the Marine Analytical Unit has been published, featuring an article reporting on VALMER – an eleven partner, €4.7 million project which aimed to examine how improved marine ecosystem services assessment (ESA) could support effective and informed marine management and planning. 

Related Links

April 30, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

Marine Scotland staff clean-up: 30th April

Marine Scotland and other colleagues in Aberdeen are continuing with their fight with litter on the beach with our colleagues, Danny and Mike, going out on Monday for a spot of impromptu litter picking around the shore and embankment.

The eagle-eyed of you will spot the stats have leapt up. This follows Danny having a catch-upSwans enjoying the clean surroundings with RSPB staff on dolphin-watch duties who provided figures on their and the Council’s efforts around the Battery and the nearby embankment.

Stat’s for Monday and grand totals, including: volunteering effort from Inverdee House (20), us (17), RSPB (6) and the Council (8) :

  • 4 full bin bags (84)
  • 90 person minutes collecting effort (5,370 or 89.5 hrs)
  • Total number of volunteers = 51
  • Other – 2 traffic cones, 1 orange buoy and packaging for an air-rifle

We now have our ‘Marine Litter Video’ up on YouTube so come and have a look to see what it’s all about and how we are getting on.  Check out our website for more information about marine litter and what little steps you can take to make a big difference.

Other Links


April 28, 2015
by Ruth Allen

SEWeb Hackathon – 30th & 31st May


SEWeb EcoHack-Logo

Scotland’s Environment Web wants to help people discover and understand more about the environment. Environmental data is really important – to provide context to reports on the state and quality of the environment, to improve our understanding of the challenges and opportunities our environment faces, and encourage communities, school children and individuals to investigate their own local environment further, observing what is happening around them, collect their own data and take action to protect and improve their local environment.

Data can help us in this journey of discovery and understanding and SEWeb are looking for fresh new innovative ideas to make better use of available data,  to collect new local environmental data that can help further our understanding, and encourage people to get interested and get involved in Scotland’s Environment – observing, monitoring, taking action, and educating.

Scotland’s Environment Web is holding a Hackathon with prizes for  :

  • Innovative data mash ups to explore new data relationships to help analyse the state of our environment and the impact it has on us
  • Infographics, visualisations and games using data to help explain environmental issues and/or view ‘my environment’
  • Prototype designs for new data collection and data entry equipment/apps

In particular, they’re really interested in your ideas around the themes of Climate Change and/or My Environment – but don’t worry, if you have ideas on another environmental theme then we still want to see them.

What makes a good Hackathon Idea ?

Whilst it’s the idea that counts rather than having a finished product by the end of the event, your idea should focus on a concept that the judges think has real potential to ultimately be developed into a working product. We want you to think about who your target audience is, come up with solutions that could easily be used by them and can make a real difference in helping people to observe, monitor, take action and educate about the environment.



April 24, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

Marine Scotland staff clean up: 23rd April

Lighthouse and clean beach

A big well done to everyone who has taken part in all of our beach clean-ups so far. The very good news is that we have almost reached the lighthouse – we are about 25 yards away. Once we have completed this stretch we will consider the marine litter clean-up phase complete, at least this section. Our clean-ups will then be less frequent, on the basis of maintaining the shore in its rubbish-free state.

Check out our website for more information about marine litter and what you can do to help.

Today’s figures and (grand totals to date):

  • 3 full bin-bags of general waste (60)
  • 240 person minutes collecting effort (2,760)
  • 84 bottles and cans recycled (2,440)
  • Various items collected including – Clothing, tennis balls, shuttlecock and a golf ball.

Other “rubbish” news:

  • RSPB have reportedly been cleaning up the golf course area, near the Battery, collecting 20 bags of rubbish
  • We will be meeting with Torry Community Council in May to talk about what has been done and what they could perhaps do to help.

April 23, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

RSPB Scotland’s Dolphinwatch is back!

Marine Scotland Scientists have long had a keen interest in dolphins, including being involved in the recent Greyhope Bay Project in Aberdeen.

Keeping the dolphin theme going, this weekend sees the launch of Dolphinwatch 2015. People heading down to the Torry Battery in Aberdeen will hopefully be able to see one of the UK’s most impressive wildlife species right on their doorsteps.

Bottlenose Dolphin in Aberdeen

Recent Marine Scotland articles on dolphins:


April 21, 2015
by Lyndsay Cruickshank

The Importance of Scotland’s Observers

Since the 1970’s Marine Scotland Science has maintained a team of individuals, Observers, who participate in fishing trips all around the Scottish coast.  Information collected from commercial catches in Scotland provide valuable data on the health of fish stocks and future catching opportunities. Some of this can be gathered in fish markets but in order to fully understand the composition of what has been caught, rather than simply landed ashore, it is necessary to undertake sampling at sea on board fishing vessels.  Of particular importance are the observations made of the unwanted components of the catch which are thrown back into the sea – the discards – most of which do not survive but nevertheless need to be taken account of in assessments of the mortality created by fishing.

Marine Scotland Science Observers onboardBetween 60 and 90 trips are made annually to cover fishing operations in the North Sea and West of Scotland looking at whitefish or Nephrops. Observers monitor the amount of each species caught and discarded, take measurements of the size composition and, for a selected group of species including cod, haddock and whiting, collect ear bones or otoliths which are examined to determine the age of the fish. Following processing, these data are then submitted to ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea)and combined with similar material collected in other countries to provide overall catch information, that are used in international assessments of the fish stocks.

In more recent years, the role of Observer has extended to provide observations on the performance of vessels employing special conservation measures as part of the EU Cod Recovery Plan. To cover the expanding remit, Marine Scotland has provided funding for additional observers managed by the SFF (Scottish Fishermen’s Federation). Working collaboratively with the MSS observers in a sampling scheme, the additional SFF observer is making a valuable contribution to improving our knowledge on the fate of what is caught by the fishing fleets. The value of this information has become even more evident with the advent of the Landing Obligation – an EU regulation arising from the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) which will eventually require fishermen to land all catches of fish species managed by TACs (Total Allowable Catches). This regulation creates numerous challenges and to help address these a good understanding of current catch profiles is essential – observers are at the forefront of providing this.


April 20, 2015
by Ruth Allen

Tracking across the Atlantic

Last year, Marine Scotland Science collaborated with Jim Manning at the NOAA North East Fisheries Science Centre, USA to obtain some low cost trackers for ocean drifters that they released.

Using the same tracking technology, an education outreach project in the USA has launched a number of unmanned sailboats, one of which is currently heading towards Scotland. The sailboat is being tracked by hundreds of school children in New Jersey who prepared it for its launch back in November 2014 and the hope is that it will come ashore in a safe, accessible location, where it can be taken to a local school.

Why not check where it is now and see if it’s heading towards you?

Further Information

April 17, 2015
by Ruth Allen

The Scotland River Temperature Monitoring Network

Water temperature (Tw) is of critical importance to aquatic ecosystems and particularly to the growth and survival of freshwater fish. Consequently, there are concerns over rising and more extreme temperatures. Currently, there are limited long-term, quality controlled Tw data available in Scotland. In recognition of this gap in knowledge and capacity, the Coordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Scotland (CAMERAS) Freshwater Monitoring Action Plan (Freshwater MAP) recommended that a national river temperature monitoring network should be established.

Work on the Scotland River Temperature Monitoring Network (SRTMN) began in 2013, when Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and the University of Birmingham received NERC CASE funding for a PhD position to help support the initiative.

The objectives of the SRTMN network are to:

  • Characterise spatial and temporal variability in river temperature regimes for salmon rivers across Scotland
  • Identify the most sensitive locations and time-periods for high temperatures
  • Improve understanding of the landscape controls on Tw
  • Develop large scale spatial models to predict future Tw
  • Assess options for mitigation and adaptation strategies for high temperature
  • Provide a long-term evidence base on changing river water temperatures in Scotland

Work on the design of the SRTMN (where to monitor) began in 2013 with a detailed analysis of landscape controls i.e. the factors known to influence Tw, such as altitude, river size and land use.

This work ensured that the correct range of sites were selected for monitoring and helped avoid the inclusion of sites with similar characteristics that would provide little additional information to the project.

In summer of 2014, the deployment of dataloggers (temperature monitoring equipment) began and it will be completed by summer 2015.

To make best use of available resources, MSS has worked with fisheries trusts, District Salmon Fishery Boards and CAMERAS partners to deploy and maintain the network.

The deployment of Tw dataloggers and collection of data will continue throughout 2015. These data will be used to characterise thermal regimes and model spatial variability in Tw. The outputs of these models will be used to:

  • Improve understanding of spatial controls on Tw
  • Predict future Tw
  • Identify areas sensitive to climate change
  • Highlight areas where bankside tree planting may provide beneficial effects by reducing maximum Tw and providing an overall more favourable thermal regime.

Finally, the network will provide a long-term evidence base on the state of Tw in Scottish rivers, to inform freshwater management.

Dr Iain A Malcolm & Faye Jackson

Further Information: