Love is in the air, so we are asking everyone to get out and look for signs of passion in lugworm populations across our UK beaches!
Spermwatch is a nationwide Capturing our Coast campaign everyone can get involved in, simply by searching their local beach for lugworm ‘sperm puddles’.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
For animals to reproduce a sperm must meet an egg. The timing of egg and sperm release can be critical, and often it seems to be triggered by specific temperatures, or even phases of the moon. This way, a whole population releases its sperms and eggs at the same time and reproduction can happen.
The lugworm Arenicola marina is an important food source for birds and valuable for intertidal fisheries as they are used for fishing bait. But we know little about how and when they reproduce. Scientists have observed though that lugworms at a specific beach all ‘do it’ at the same time. We want to find out when the lugworm breeds in the UK, and what causes that ‘synchronous’ spawning event. This information will help us understand how changes to our environment, such as climate change, may impact this an important species.
All we ask you to do is go out to your local sandy beach and record if you see ‘sperm puddles’ – little white specks on the sediment.
Click on the link above to upload the data when you return from your survey. Also submit your finding if you haven’t found any sperm puddles, all information is useful!
If you took any pictures, please send them to your local CoCoast hub or CoCoast@port.ac.uk
1. Always take a buddy when surveying. The surveys are laid out to be completed by two people, and it is much safer to not go alone.
2. Check the tide times for your shore for the day you do the surveys, and always watch the tide while doing your surveys. Tide tables are available here.
3. Make sure the shore is easily accessible and safe to walk and work on, i.e. without water crossings, mud or quick sand. Make sure you cannot be cut off by the incoming tide.
4. If your beach is very wide and the waterline is over 100 m down the beach, then complete the survey further up the beach and make sure you can always see the shoreline.
5. Do not survey in the dark.
6. Check the local weather forecast before going out. Avoid surveying in bad weather conditions, and wear appropriate clothing (e.g. walking boots or wellies, warm clothing, waterproofs)
A VERY BIG THANK YOU
to all that have already surveyed and to those that attended our launch events around the UK on October 1st & 2nd. We would love to hear from you! Do you have an exciting story from your survey, or did you take a great picture at the sandy shore? If so, then send it through to your local hub or share it with us on Twitter