Last week, I travelled to Bembridge for our Race to Recovery survery. It's a survey which gathers data about the ability of marine rocky shore communities to recover following disturbances, in particular storm activity. Storms and rough seas clear large areas of rocky shores and strong waves can dislodge communities. The intensity and frequency of storms are predicted to rise with climate change so we want to know if species can recover from the damage.
The survey is carried out in June and September across 30 sites nationally, but here at the CoCoast SE Hub we survey Bembridge on the IoW and Portland in Dorset. It is a relatively simple survey (in theory!) where you place a 50 x 50 cm quardat on markers placed on the shore....if you can find them! The abundances of different groups of seaweeds, as well as number of limpets are counted.
I was up bright and early for the 7am ferry to cross the Solent and arrived at bembridge about 8:15am. The tide was still dropping but as I waited I did a little bit of rock pooling and noting any species for Shoresearch (another survey done by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust) and enjoyed the view.
Once, the tide had dropped enough, I headed out to try and find the first co-ordinates and markers. After a few minutes of walking around in circles, I came across a few markers. The sun had started to shine so the reflections of the little silver discs were really helpful!
After a few hours on the shore, I had managed to find 17 out of the 20 markers but marker number 26 was playing hard to get...or find! I kept on putting in the co-ordinates and the GPS would tell me approaching co-ordinates but alas, the markers were no where to be found. Had a little rummage around in the seaweed and still nothing. Tried again and after 35 minutes of looking, I was sucessful. You may have seen on Twitter but I did do a little celebratory dance when I found it. After another hour of looking, the tide was coming back in so had to give up the search but 18/20 markers wasn't bad for my first time on the beach.
This survey will be happening again in September so if you'd like to get involved in the South, please drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) as you don't have to be trained, only registered with Capturing Our Coast to get involved. I was considering purchasing a metal detector as it may make the job easier but where is the fun in that?!
This survey is really important as the data we will collect will help us understand how biological communities recover from storm disturbance and whether there are patterns across the UK in how the recovery occurs. We also want to know how long it takes for the community thtat was there before the disturbance to re-establish itself and what species recover quicker.
On my way back to the car, I also noted a new lug worm casts so watch the space for our Spermwatch launch coming in October as we'll need your help on the Isle of Wight to look out for lug worm sperm puddles! You can read a little bit more about the survey here but this page will be updated nearer the campaign launch. I also spotted quite a bit of the invasive species, Japanese knotweed, or Sargassum.
Stay tuned for blogs coming next week. We are off to Kimmeridge for a Field Support Day and a bit of an ID session to see what we can find. If you'd like to come along, you can book on here.