This course is the next stage up for budding marine life enthusiasts from the Observer Course. It was organised by Carrie Pillow the North East Seasearch Coordinator and was based in the Harbour Café in Eyemouth , Scotland.
Day one of the course centred on how to fill in the Recorder form, which is far more detailed than the Observer form. Not only is it four pages long (instead of two) it has room for three distinct habitats to be recorded as well as a multitude of species too. Each section of the form was discussed and presentations were given by both Paula and Calum Duncan the Scottish Seasearch Co-ordinator.
In the afternoon we split into two groups, one for a shore dive and the other (including me) hopped aboard a boat and went out to a reef just East of Weasel Loch. The dive covered a number of habitat types: kelp forest, kelp park, red seaweeds, animal turf and sediment. Most chose just three habitats to concentrate on. I couldn’t give up my favourite game of nudibranch hunting though!
After the dive we went back into the classroom to fill in our forms and discuss our findings. Most people wrote down species on a slate. I had much fun zooming in and out on my photos, finding numerous species on zoom that I didn’t actually notice during the dive! Once done we all headed out for a meal and some well earned beers.
Sunday dawned with true drench Scottish weather. We were not deterred and headed out after yet another hearty Harbour Café breakfast for a dive. This time it was my turn for a shore dive in Green Ends Gully. Wow, what a dive, such easy access to the sea and the life was teaming. We saw scorpion fish, crystal sea slug, star fish galore and my favourite a Yarrell’s Blenny – different from the tompot – as he isn’t smiling!
After the dive we all headed back to the classroom for a final talk on the Recorder forms, followed by a marine identification presentation, shortly after which we had an ID test. We all passed the ID test but it was evident that there was some south west coast bias in the species selected! The course was then summed up and we were all encouraged to hand in as many forms as possible – every dive can be a Seasearch dive! The data once compiled in to the National Database can then be used for selecting marine reserves, areas for no take zones etc, so it is important. If you go on http://www.searchnbn.net/ you can search all of the Seasearch data for free and even see whose records you are looking at.
For more information about Seasearch please have a look at their website: http://www.seasearch.co.uk/index.htm