MCS has been busy in June with two Seasearch trips and a book launch. On 15-18 June we surveyed new sites in outer Loch Linnhe, Sound of Mull, north Ardnamurchan and Muck, and recorded fireworks anemones, Celtic featherstars and northern sea fans across various sites. Most spectacular was a reef west of Elizabeth rock descending to 40m and beyond covered in jewel anemones with northern sea fans at the base. We were also very lucky to see a sea eagle with two nesting chicks.
We also launched the latest excellent Seasearch guide, ‘Bryozoans and Hydroids’ by Dr Joanne Porter at Heriot-Watt University then headed to Arran. Whilst wind confined us to Lamlash Bay on Saturday we got more species and habitat information from the No-Take Zone to the north of Holy Isle and from a bed of dead maerl to the south. The wind turned so we were lucky to get to southwest Arran on the Sunday,
where we managed to confirm the presence of waves of maerl gravel (5% live) suspected from historic records of herring spawning grounds, where maerl beds are often favoured. Confirming presence of this Scottish MPA network feature contributes to the scientific case for the Community of Arran Seabed Trust Scottish MPA proposal for south Arran, which remains in the running.
Calum Duncan, Scotland Programme Manager, Marine Conservation Society