Reports 2001

Seashore Safari, Helford Passage with Ruth Williams

Monday, 18th April 2011

If shellfish, crabs and other marine creatures have an early warning system, it must have clicked on ‘Red Alert’ today as the Seashore Safari got underway.  But to no avail.  A horde of searchers, 30 adults and 45 children, with ages ranging from 2 to 80, was advancing over the rocks, armed with nets and buckets.  There was little chance of any creature remaining undetected as sharp eyes and quick hands and nets probed the rock pools and watery gullies; and soon treasured finds were being placed in the buckets and carried to Ruth for identification.… Read more

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British Divers Marine Life Rescue

BDMLR is a fairly new charity, set up in 1988 by a group of divers who were concerned at their observations of the distemper virus in Britain’s wild seal populations. At the time, divers reported sick seals to the RSPCA. Recognising their unusually close encounters with marine mammals, and with many divers having an obvious concern for environmental issues, BDMLR was born.… Read more

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Non-native Marine Invasive Species (Guy Baker)

Saturday, 26th February 2011

“You should clean your bottom every year”! Australians and New Zealanders are known for plain speaking, but this seemed unnecessarily rude. However, just to clarify, they were talking in this instance about the hull of your boat.  The point was quickly driven home by an underwater film, taken in N.France, which showed a hull so thickly coated with weeds and invertebrates that it looked like a sagging roll of shaggy carpet.  Boat fouling is a worldwide problem and marinas and harbours are important staging posts in the process, because hulls, piers and jetties provide numerous firm surfaces on which sessile plants and animals can gain a foothold.  It only takes a few weeks for a surface to be completely colonised.  Increasingly, however, it has been found that the plants and animals are not simply extensions of the local ecosystem, they include alien species which have invaded from different parts of the world.  Recognising that this was a problem, the Marine Biological Association (MBA) in Plymouth entered a consortium with the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Natural History Museum and other research institutions to research the issue of Marine Aliens.… Read more

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The Fal-Helford Marine Special Area of Conservation (Kevan Cook)

Saturday, 15th January 2011

Because of its very special nature in terms of habitats, biodiversity, species, geology and scenery, the Helford River has long been recognised as worthy of protection at both European and national levels.  Fortunately our speaker, Kevan Cook, Lead Marine Adviser for Natural England, was able to guide us through some of the acronyms.  The Fal-Helford SAC (Special Area of Conservation), lying west of a line from St Anthony Head to Manacle Point and giving the highest level of protection, is a European designation relating to habitats and some species.  It identifies the range of environments in the Helford, from the rocky shores at Rosemullion and Gillan, buffeted by strong winds and tides, passing upstream to sand banks with seagrass and maerl and then to the highly productive intertidal muds with narrow saltmarsh fringe of Polwheveral, Frenchman’s Creek and Gweek.  Another European designation, though not present in the Helford, is an SPA (Special Protection Area) which safeguards the habitats of particular bird species.  At a national (UK) level, the intertidal zone of the Lower Fal and Helford is classified as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and this overlaps with the individual SSSIs of Merthen Woods and Rosemullion Head, the latter for geological interest.  Further UK designations are evolving and in course of discussion, namely MCZ (Marine Conservation Zone), MPA (Marine Protection Area) and MNR (Marine Nature Reserve).  In addition, the Helford lies in Cornwall AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), in which the emphasis is on scenic character.  Through all of these, the Helford is afforded a  high degree of protection.  Damaging or destroying features for which a site is designated can incur considerable penalties and Natural England’s consent must be sought for a wide range of operations which might have impact, for example agricultural practice, drainage, shore work and dredging.… Read more

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