Invasive Species Week Success!

Between 23rd and 29th March, the GB Non-Native Secretariat ran a national Invasive Species Week, to which CoCoast decided to help add to the search in the marine environment!


Although tides (and weather!) weren't brilliant around the country for the majority of the week, we amounted over 100 searches nationally with many new confirmed sightings of Marine Invaders!


Results from Invasive Species Week:

  • 13 new surveyors in March, adding up to a total of 83 people uploading Marine Invaders data nationally.
  • Number of individual timed surveys: 132 conducted in March (+315 previously recorded) totalling 447 searches to date.
  • Total number of confirmed sightings: 32 recorded in March (+32 previously recorded) totalling 64 confirmed sightings to date with images verified.
  • Total number of probable sightings: 5 recorded in March (+4 previously recorded) totalling 9 probably sightings to date where no images have been provided.


We have been really amazed with the results and all of your efforts!

Below shows an updated map of all presence and absence records from Marine Invaders 10 minute timed searches all around the UK (not finding something is of course just as important to record as a confirmed sighting!).


Of course, going out and searching for invasives species as part of our marine Invaders 10 minute timed searches also gives you the opportunity to look for other fabulous native species that reside on rocky shores, sandy beaches or artificial substrates (such as harbours)... don't forget - you can help us continue the search for Marine Invaders whenever and wherever you would like!



The cushion star, brittlestar and Edible Crab above were found during a CoCoast Marine Invaders Search at Meadfoot Beach on the 31st March.



Head to our website to download everything you need to get started (click here), or join your local CoCoast team at their next open event; click here for more details of events near you.


Finally, a massive THANK YOU to everyone that got involved last month... keep up the good work! laugh

Marine Invasive Identification at the MBA


On the 22nd March, we were very fortunate to be able to offer a select number of volunteers the opportunity to gets hands-on with some marine invasive species and pick up some key identification tips, courtesy of Dr John Bishop and Chris Wood of the Bishop Group ( based here at the MBA. 



After a highly informative talk by Dr Bishop about invasive species in the UK, volunteers were split into groups and got the opportunity to learn about a whole host of non-native and invasive species, both live and preserved, in comparison to native UK species. 


The evening was fantastic fun and of course highly educational; we were delighted to see everyone so enthusiastic to further their understanding of invasive species and of course eager to help us search for Marine Invaders on UK coastlines!



Images above show a Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis) and various algae and chromist species including Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), Devil's Tongue Weed (Grateloupia turuturu), Japanese Wireweed (Sargassum muticum) and Harpoon Weed (Asparagopsis armata). 




As today is the official start of GBNNSS's 'Invasive Species Week' which runs from 23rd-29th March 2018, #CoCoastSW are excited to have a number of upcoming events that everyone is welcome to attend and #getINNSvolved, whether you are registered with CoCoast or not:

  • Wednesday 28th March – Marine Invaders Species Open Evening, MBA Plymouth (Open Event – click here)
  • Thursday 29th March – Marine Invaders Species Search, Tinside Plymouth (Open Event – click here)
  • Friday 30th March – Marine Invaders Species Search with the Three Bays Wildlife Group at Portholland, nr St. Austell (Volunteer-led; registered CoCoast volunteers only – click here)
  • Saturday 31st March – Marine Invaders Species Search, Meadfoot Torbay (Open Event – click here)

For more information about these events, please click the links above or contact the CoCoast Southwest team at:



If you don't live in the Southwest and would like more information on marine invasive species events in your area, check out our previous blog post (click here) to see what's happening in your region.




Invasive Species Week with CoCoast


This March, the Great British Non-Native Species Secretariat (GBNNSS) are hosting a national 'Invasive Species Week' from 23rd - 29th March; you can find more information on this event by clicking here.

Here at Capturing our Coast, we want to add to the search for invasive species in the marine environment... and we need your help!

For centuries, marine species have moved around the globe either by hitching a ride on the hulls of ships, as stowaways in ballast water, or by being deliberately introduced for commercial purposes. Some can have a positive effect and become a new food source for native species. Others thrive a bit too well and may be harmful to our native diversity by outcompeting them or by introducing disease; these are called invasive species.


Events Coming Up

To raise awareness and record the presence/absence of marine invasive species around the UK, our hubs from all corners of the country have been organising a mixture of events for 'Invasive Species Week', some exclusively for CoCoast registered volunteers and others that are open to the public of all ages; under 18's must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 years.

* Due to differences in the tides around the UK coastline, some events cannot be held between the 23rd and 29th March – see below for events in your region!



  • Friday 30th March - Easter 'Egg' Hunt, Atlantic Bridge (Open Event)

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast Scotland team at:


North East - Newcastle

  • ​​Tuesday 27th March – Wine & Science Evening, The Dove Marine Laboratory Cullercoats (registered CoCoast volunteers only):

Dr Catherine Scott (Natural England) & Pippa Howarth (MSc, Newcastle University) - “Northumbria Coast Invasive Non-Native Species Monitoring Partnership Project”.

  • Sunday 29th April – Marine Invaders Species Search, St Mary’s Lighthouse: 09:30 – 11:00 (registered CoCoast volunteers only)
  • Monday 30th April – Marine Invaders Species Search, Whitburn: 10:00 – 11:30 (registered CoCoast volunteers only)

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast Northeast team at:


North East - Hull

  • TBC

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast Hull team at:


North Wales

  • Friday 27th April – Marine Invaders Species Search, Porth Cwyfan (Open Event - click here)
  • Saturday 28th April - Marine Invaders Species Search, Treborth (Open Event - click here)
  • Sunday 29th April - Marine Invaders Species Search, Beaumaris (Open Event - click here)

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast North Wales team at:



South Wales

  • Friday 16th March, Langland Bay, Gower 11:15 - 14:15 (registered CoCoast volunteers only)
  • Sunday 18th March, Black Rock, Dale, Pembrokeshire 11:30 - 14:30 (Open Event)
  • Wednesday 21st March, Wiseman's Bridge, Saundersfoot 13:15 - 16:15 (Open Event)

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast MCS team at:


South Coast

  • Tuesday 27th March – Marine Invaders Species Search, Portsmouth (Open Eventclick here)

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast South team at:


Southwest England

  • Wednesday 28th March – Marine Invaders Species Open Evening, MBA Plymouth (Open Eventclick here)
  • Thursday 29th March – Marine Invaders Species Search, Tinside Plymouth (Open Event click here)
  • Friday 30th March – Marine Invaders Species Search with the Three Bays Wildlife Group at Portholland, nr St. Austell (Volunteer-led; registered CoCoast volunteers only click here)
  • Saturday 31st March – Marine Invaders Species Search, Meadfoot Torbay (Open Event click here)
  • Friday 27th April - Quadrat Survey & Marine Invaders Species Searches, Kingsand (Registered CoCoast volunteers only click here)
  • Sunday 29th April - Marine Invaders Species Search, Mount Batten Plymouth (Volunteer-led; registered CoCoast volunteers only click here)
  • Sunday 29th April - Marine Invaders Species Search, Corbyn Head Torbay (Volunteer-led; registered CoCoast volunteers only click here)

For more information about these events, please contact the CoCoast Southwest team at:



Don't forget...

...that you don't have to join us at one of the above events to take part in our Marine Invaders timed searches!

If you want to survey your local coast, you can go whenever and wherever you like on any rocky shore, sandy beach or artificial shore (such as harbours).

Surveys take 10 minutes per species and all you have to do is choose a species to look for (or more if you fancy!), download the species identification guide(s), recording sheets and survey instructions from and get out searching; don’t forget - both the presence and absence of species are just as important to record and upload… so have fun!

(Image above shows the Creeping Sea Squirt, Perophroa japonica)



Marine Invaders So Far

We officially launched our 'Marine Invaders' timed searches in September 2017. 

To date, our volunteers (you amazing people!) have completed 327 individual searches around the UK with 32 confirmed species sightings, 11 of which have been of Japanese Wireweed (Sargssum muticum), closely followed by 8 confirmed sightings of Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas). 

See our most recent map below to find out where your presence and absence data have been recorded and help us fill the gaps (data correct as of 28th Feb 2018):

Introducing... Alys Perry!


Alys has been a volunteer with #CoCoastSW since October 2016, shortly after starting her undergraduate degree at Plymouth University. Even though she was both new to the area and new to marine science, Alys jumped straight in to help us with all our field projects whatever the weather and has since proved herself a hugely valuable citizen scientist for us here at the MBA.




Here is Alys's story of her #CoCoastSW journey in her own words:

"I’m 19 years old and I am in my 2nd year studying marine biology and coastal ecology, at Plymouth University. Marine life and the outdoors have always been a big interest of mine from a young age. This is mainly because I grew up in a small fishing town called Solva in Pembrokeshire, Wales. So, the sea, boats and rock pools were pretty much rooted into my childhood. When it came to decide what to do after school it was a no brainer that I wanted to study marine biology, and Plymouth University ticked all the right boxes for me.

During my first year at university I came across Capturing our Coast South West, based at the Marine Biological Association on Plymouth Hoe. I signed up to do a training day at the MBA where I met Leoni and Kathryn who kindly invited me to join them to do Sargassum muticium surveys at Wembury. Sargassum muticum are an invasive species of seaweed which has come to Britain from Japan. The aim of the surveys, was to measure the abundance of the seaweed within the rock pools and take samples to assess what effect this species may be having on other native species on the rocky shore. Taking part in these surveys was what really got me interested in the project, and ever since I have been very involved with Cocoast. I was lucky enough to be invited by the Cocoast team to do Sargassum surveys with them in North Wales. This was an awesome experience as it really improved my ID skills of rocky shore organisms, and meant I got to go back to Wales for a few days."


"Now that I have started my second year in university, I have been participating in more lab-based work with capturing our coast, which I have really benefit from. There are two different lab projects which I am currently involved with. These are the Sargassum ID project and the top shell study. The Sargassum ID project entails measuring the holdfast, circumference, and length of the Sargassum. Weighing each individual plant and separating all the fauna and flora that is growing or attached to the Sargassum. This is quite tricky work but very enjoyable. It is so interesting to see all the tiny fauna species that are attached to the Sargassum, that I had never noticed before when surveying them. I haven’t yet started on the identification of flora and fauna, but I am very much looking forward to it. 

The top shell study is also very interesting. It involves crushing the shells to remove the operculum and take slices out of their gonads. These parts are then placed under the microscope to be measured and photographed. After this is done you have to sex the top shell to determine if it is male or female and record all the data. It is very detailed work but very fascinating. I never thought that when I joined Cocoast I would be looking at top shells’ reproductive parts in such detail, but I guess that is science for you!



Over Christmas I was back at home in Pembrokeshire so unfortunately, I couldn’t be involved with my usual top shell crushing and Sargassum identification work, but I kept myself busy by doing some Marine Invaders and Wading birds surveys.

Volunteering with Capturing our Coast has given me so many amazing opportunities to study current science and get out in the field to some beautiful locations. I have met some lovely and enthusiastic scientists, that have really motivated me to work hard to achieve my future goals within marine biology. Cocoast has been great because it has enabled me to gain essential skills needed for a career in science. Lastly it has meant that I can contribute and support ecological research in my own area and be part of a UK wide project."




New Year Recording Resolution - Data Drop-in Day

We need your data!


Have you been out with CoCoast on a Survey Day since we started collecting data for the project in January 2016?     

Forgotten to upload the data online?     

Forgotten how to upload it?   

No problem!

We all know that fieldwork is the most enjoyable part of the Capturing our Coast data collection where you to get to don your wellies, paddle through the rock pools and have loads of fun in the sun (or take soggy selfies when it's a tad drizzly)!
But without all that crucial data being uploaded to our website, we would have nothing to analyse and nothing to feed back to the National Biodiversity Network at the end of the project... therefore we really need your help!


Here at #CoCoastSW we are hosting a Data Drop-in Session where you can bring in all your old (or new!) recording sheets and we will show you how to upload the data to our website... or you can even leave it with us and we'll be happy to upload it for you!


Data Drop-in Day - MBA, Plymouth (#CoCoastSW)

Wednesday 7th February, 15:00 - 20:00

(Don't forget to bring any images taken during your surveys on a USB stick/CD/DVD or email them to us in advance:


Alternatively if you would like to give it a go yourself at home, here are a few easy steps to getting your data and images uploaded to our website:

(Don't forget to login first)

If you can't make it to our drop-in session with the #CoCoastSW team in Plymouth (contact your local CoCoast hub for drop-in sessions near you), then please feel free to email images of your data sheets to Hannah and Leoni and tell us what issues you are having:

Thanks again for your continued efforts to help us collect data... we need as much as you can collect!

#CoCoastSW Christmas BioBlitz Events!


In December 2017, CoCoast southwest ran 3 Christmas BioBlitz events in Devon and Cornwall to explore the marine life living in different sites that have been infrequently studied during the project.

The main aim of these events was to gather a snapshot of the species living in each of these rocky shores, collect data to add to our final datasets and finally… to explore and have fun!



Mount Edgcumbe is a stunning location, home to the National Trust's beautiful Mount Edgcumbe House and Gardens that sits on the Cornish coastline fringing Plymouth Sound.

We were eager to survey this site to explore what the rocky shore here might be hiding... and we were not disappointed!

Volunteers found a vast number of invasive Pacific Oysters, a single Wakame frond and various other interesting critters including emerald worms, crabs galore and even an eel sat in a rock pool! A fantastic day with a great number of surveys conducted to add to the CoCoast dataset and finished off with a hot drink in the Mount Edgcumbe Arms when it all got a bit chilly in the brisk wintery winds!




Firestone Bay is a stone's throw away from Mount Edgcumbe, sat on the opposite side of the Tamar estuary and on the western tip of Plymouth Hoe.

This was an interesting site as it was almost entirely different to the previous day, with far more silt covering the low shore and a great number of overhangs and boulders just waiting to be explored!

Great fun was had by all who attended this BioBlitz day, with many interesting finds such as sea squirts, bryozoan mats, the invasive Asian Shore Crab, cushion stars and there were gorgeously coloured painted topshells absolutely everywhere!




We couldn't have chosen a wilder day to visit the North coast of Cornwall in gusts of 20-35 mph!

We were however spoilt by local rocky shore expert David who very quickly found a Stalked Jellyfish (Haliclystus octoradiatus) that just so happened to be my very first ever seen!

This shore was very unusual, as the high shore extended right out to the edge of the bay, with many rockpools hiding lots of strawberry anemones and jellyfish. We also completed field training for many of our new volunteers, and worked on barnacle identification skills... a fantastic day!




This has just been completed (January 2018) and emailed out to volunteers. If you are interested to read a copy of the report, please email:


Thanks again to everyone that joined us for these BioBlitz events... they were hugely successful and we're grateful to everyone who collected data and has already uploaded it!

CoCoast Christmas Celebrations!


Christmas is a great time to celebrate the end of a successful year and here in the southwest... we certainly made the most of it!

We celebrated 2017 by asking a variety of our volunteers, both long-term and newly registered, to present their experiences as CoCoast volunteers... and we were certainly in for a treat!

To kick off the evening, CoCoast intern Bethan Follis (on her placement year from Plymouth University) discussed the variety of field and lab projects she has assisted with; from learning how to conduct quadrat surveys, measuring Sargassum Muticum (Japanese Wireweed) and kelp species in the field, dissecting topshells to examine their reproductive status in a special investigation, to identifying invertebrates that have been using invasive wireweed as a habitat/grazing opportunity.


We were then treated to a talk by recent addition to the CoCoast volunteer team, Dr Colin Munn, who retired this year from Plymouth University where he conducted research and taught as an Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in MicroBiology. Colin was only recently trained with CoCoast to conduct quadrat surveying in the field, which he admitted has been an amusing talking point for his recent colleagues, since he repeatedly avoided taking part in rocky shore work during his career! Thankfully, he seems to be thoroughly enjoying his experiences so far and even dedicated much time to helping us with our recent #Spermwatch campaign!


Up third was long-term volunteer Michael Puleston, who gave us a hugely insightful talk on one of his favourite surveying sites; Sprey Point near Teignmouth. Mike is quite smitten with the little treasures that you find amongst rock pools and under overhangs on the rocky shore, especially his barnacles! We were very impressed to see some beautiful location photography that undoubtedly has enticed us to pay a visit to this remarkable site with both natural and artificial habitats to explore.


Finally, we were treated a presentation by 2nd year Plymouth University Marine Biology & Coastal Ecology student Alys Perry, who has been a volunteer with CoCoast for nearly a year and a half. Alys has mainly been involved with our special investigative projects, including much of the Sargassum muticum studies in the field both in the southwest and on a field trip to North Wales, also becoming more heavily involved in lab work in recent weeks.

We were and still are incredibly thankful to all the volunteers to gave up their time to put together their outstanding presentations for the benefit of other volunteers - it was fantastic to demonstrate the variety of ways that volunteers can and do get involved with the CoCoast project!

Last but not least, Hannah Wilson, the newest member of the CoCoast team having joined in October, gave an update to all volunteers (in a gingerbread man onesie I hasten to add) on the progress of the CoCoast project so far. It was fantastic to see how many volunteers around the UK have been contributing to the final quadrat survey dataset, with some species packages more popular than others... especially in some areas of the country!

After all the presentations, we were delighted to present our volunteer speakers with little Christmas gifts for their contributions, and also announced our photography competition winners... congratulations again to Barry Pettifor, Michael Puleston and Luka Wright!


CoCoast volunteer and MRes Marine Biology student Jennifer has a Plymouth University blog and will soon have a written summary about the evening here:


#Spermwatch Success in the Southwest!

We are delighted to say that our special seasonal investigation to further scientific knowledge on lugworm spawning around the UK has been amazing so far!

2016 was a disappointing year for the southwest team as we discovered no lugworm sperm puddles on our beaches, yet this year we have already discovered a mass spawning event in Torbay!


The #Spermwatch surveys started in October, running through to the beginning of December. Volunteers are asked to walk 3 transects of 50 m (150 m total), counting lugworm casts and sperm puddles as they go... if they find any that is! Surveys are to be conducted every 3 days if possible, as lugworm spawning is thought to last up to a maximum of 3 days per annum... so we definitely wouldn't want to miss it!

To read more about this project and to get involved, visit: or email us at:

Our sites in the southwest this year have been at Wembury, Bovisand and Broadsands (Torbay) beaches in Devon, with one dedicated volunteer working on his local beach in Cornwall too.

Our survey season in the southwest started off a little bumpy, as we had some rubbish neap tides that made it impossible to reach the transects on the shore. We then felt the wrath of storm Brian, which not only made it a bit risky for volunteers to be heading out to the beach with the high swell, but also threw up tons of vegetation at sites such as Wembury!

Surprisingly for us though, volunteer Brian remarkably discovered many lugworm sperm puddles at a beach in Torbay on Friday 3rd November, which we think was a mass spawning event as no puddles have been found in the area since. Torbay is a very sheltered coastline on the eastern edge of Devon, therefore we think the protection offered by its location from our recent storms means that Torbay has seen optimum conditions for spawning this season... and we're hoping that our other sites follow suit!

Thanks to Mike, Tony, Brian, Gary and Colin for their dedication in surveying both our Devon and Cornish sites - these fabulous volunteers have been heading out routinely to check our selected sites and are even prepared to take puddle samples should the opportunity present itself!


John Spicer Talk - November Wine & Science 2017

Earlier this week, we were privileged to welcome Professor John Spicer to the MBA to talk about his experience in Antarctica over the summer.

John had obviously conducted many lectures and seminars around the world, however he did manage to let slip beforehand that the MBA Common Room was the one place he has always wanted to visit and present in since he was a child... so we knew we were definitely in for a treat!

John began his lecture discussing his arrival into Antarctica, how the beauty of the landscape completely overwhelmed him and created an unforgettable impression.

We were treated to some extraordinary photographs of the landscape, research station, people and wildlife, with a number of heartwarming and awe-inspiring stories. Most incredibly was John's thorough descriptions of a Biologist's lifestyle on this incredible continent, where safety is a priority with the ever-changing weather; winds can easily change the flow of icebergs directly past the research station with drastic damage possible to the waterside infrastructure, whilst sightings of leopard seals are met with immediate retreat from the waters edge due to their lethal reputations.

John spent up to 85% of his 3 month trip within the lab of the research station assessing the energy efficiency of various sizes of amphipod species (sand hoppers in particular) in response to oxygen levels in the nutrient-rich waters of the Southern Ocean.

Not only was John's discussion engaging and beautifully captured in photographic form, his enthusiasm and passion for the protection of this remarkable place was unmistakeable.

If you would like to watch John's talk at the MBA for our volunteers, you can do so by clicking through to the CoCoast YouTube channel:

Alternatively, John will next be presenting again at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth on Wednesday 6th December, discussing his experience in Antarctica as well as the historical influence of Plymouth scientists to further marine scientific knowledge of the continent and its waters over the past 100 years: