Seasearch project wins national award
Information gathered from previously unsurveyed sites in the north east
Scarborough Sub Aqua Club's Real Reefs Project has won this year's Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award for the most worthwhile and ambitious BSAC project conducted in UK waters.
The aim of the Real Reefs Project was to carry out Seasearch dives to gather information on wildlife and habitats at 20 previously unsurveyed sites between Whitby and Flamborough. In addition to recording marine wildlife, the Real Reefs project aimed to provide more accessible diving, 'diving with a purpose' and training opportunities for club members and divers from other clubs in the region. Despite a delayed start due to poor weather conditions, the project achieved all its objectives...and more!
Seasearch is Britian and Ireland's largest volunteer diver programme which is coordinated by MCS.
Over 200 dives were carried out by 63 divers at 34 different sites along the Yorkshire coast. The sites ranged from shallow bedrock ridges and boulder fields covered in kelp or colourful red and pink seaweeds, to deeper reefs covered in sponges, anemones and dead men's fingers.
The divers encountered a wonderful array of wildlife, from tiny colourful sea slugs to inquisitive grey seals. They also observed fascinating behaviour, such as crystal sea slugs spawning in huge numbers, and male lumpsuckers guarding their eggs against predators (and nosy divers!).
Many of the sites surveyed during the Real Reefs project were within the boundaries of recommended Marine Conservation Zones. The information gathered by divers will help to inform the designation, management and monitoring of these sites. Data and photographs from Real Reef dives have been used in reports on the proposed MCZs at Runswick Bay and the stretch of coast from Scarborough to Filey, which are now available to download from the Seasearch website www.seasearch.org.uk
The Peter Small Jubilee Trust Award is jointly administered by the Jubilee Trust and the BSAC National Diving Committee. It is awarded to projects which promote the advancement of underwater exploration and the education of the public by encouraging safe diving whilst conducting underwater study, research and exploration.
The award was presented at the BSAC Conference on Saturday 27th October to Anne Morrison, Real Reefs Project Coordinator and Marine Conservation Officer at Scarborough Sub Aqua Club and Paula Lightfoot, regional Seasearch coordinator for North East England.