Sunday, 24 September 2017

Grey Seal Beachy Head


I have just received a report of a grey seal 17th September. This was a single  Grey Seal (probably male) observed from the sandy beach at Falling Sands, below Beachy Head, TV 592 954 at 7pm.

The seal's head was above water, looking round, some 50 yards from the water's edge, for about 30 minutes or more. It was low tide and the seal may have been waiting to come ashore.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tide Pool and Microscope Cam Event

Rock pools and microscope demonstration was the second of our rock pooling events. 2 weeks ago we ran our annual family tide pool event at the beach inside the mouth at Shoreham Harbour, by the Shoreham Fort.

Today I helped run the second event for Friends of Shoreham Beach (LNR). Again families were invited to collect a few sea creatures to observe. This time, instead of placing them in special tanks at the top of the beach, the creatures were brought up to me, based in the Shoreham Fort Nissan Hut.  Each creature was then placed underneath a microscope cam and projected on a TV screen.

So the aim was to find some of the smaller tide pool animals to examine.
Some of the larger animals included prawns, shore crabs, sea anemones, a cockle and a rock goby. There were also smaller specimens of prawns, common goby, amphipods, marine worms, edible periwinkle.
Various small juvenile shore crabs were also collected each having its own unique camouflage pattern providing clues to the part of shore the crab lived.
Highlight of the session had to be the two juvenile pipefish  (above)collected by one of the children.


We have found juvenile pipefish on previous occasions but always a rare find on this beach.

A very enjoyable morning, lots of fascinated and excited visitors.



Monday, 24 July 2017

Year 10 explore the coastal geography of Shoreham Beach

Year 10 Class from St Andrews School visited Shoreham Beach over 4 days studying Coastal Geography.
The students used raging poles and clinometers to measure the profile of the beach, starting at the waters edge and measuring subsequent berms created by the waves.



The clinometers measures the difference of the angle between each pole, allowing the students to plot the changes in the incline as they make their way up the beach.

The students also selected 10 random pebbles from a quadrat placed on the beach in each section to calculate the average pebble size.
The students also marked the position of the strandline, sea weeds and also the shingle plant communities at the top of the beach.
This was followed by exploration of the shingle plant ecosystem. We also discussed the local and global threats to this beach and the shingle habitat including climate change, coastal erosion and sea level rise.

There are many threats to shingle habitat one of which is compaction of the shingle by beach visitors, which has led to a path at the top of the beach with no plants growing.  Recently a boardwalk has been constructed on a section of this path. 
The second task we set the students was to create a beach profile of this path looking at 'Sphere of Influence'.

One transect would look at the compacted path, the second transect would focus on the new boardwalk.
The task was to see if the boardwalk has encouraged regeneration of the shingle plants in the boardwalk section.
The students took measurements every 8 metres. At each point, from the centre, the students would measure north until they reached the nearest shingle plant.



They would repeat the same to the south.

We are looking forward to a summary of the students data as this will be very useful to our work on the reserve.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Herring gull chicks test flights

All around my home there is the sound of demanding herring gull chicks as their are several nests nearby. I also keep a close on the nest, on the roof tops behind our bungalow, between the stacks of the chimney.
They have reared three chicks, perfectly camouflaged on the roof tops.
Today they have started to practice flight in earnest, leaping from the ridge of the roof and landing further down the tiles, before marching back up to the top and having another go.


As soon as one of the chicks start to exercise its wings, the parents go into defence mode, shouting at anyone or anything that come close.
Or dives on any potential intruder

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Grey Seal Normans Bay

I received a seal sighting, off Normans Bay East Sussex, 2.45pm from Darren accompanied by a short video which clearly showed this to be a grey seal. The seal was swimming and then exhibiting bottling behaviour - floating horizontally with head above the water.
The seal appeared to be curious and inquisitive and aware of Darren and his party on the beach.
It kept bobbing up every time Darren's party sat down. The sea ranged between 25 and 100 metres from the shore. The area it was swimming in was very flat shallow sand exposed when the tide is out when it was closest to the beach.


At times swimming fast, Darren estimated 'the seal covered a distance of a couple of hundred metres within 20 seconds or so'.
It is unclear at present if grey seals have become more common off Sussex over the last 5 years or whether mobile phones (with cameras) mean more sightings are accompanied by a photo that we can use to make a positive species identification.


Seal Video of Sighting Link


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Ocean Exhibit at Big Bang Stem Science Event

We have returned again this year to the Big Bang South East Stem Science Fair in Sussex, UK. It is great to see how stem science is really growing in Sussex – this year there were almost 9000 children and teachers. Wow.
We brought an updated display showing Ed the Bear’s travels to scientists and other organisations around the world to learn about ocean science and human impact on the oceans. However, the display is really a celebration of how amazing the ocean is, providing 50% of the oxygen we breathe, freshwater, 15% of our food, new medicines, renewable energy, wellbeing and much more.
The display stand provides examples of some of the amazing animals and people that Ed the Bear has encountered on his travels with photographs of Ed sitting with penguins on Antarctic ice, diving on coral reefs and ship wrecks, coming face to face with great white sharks and much more.
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We also included our demonstration of ocean acidification. The oceans absorb 25% of the carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere. This is now changing the water chemistry of the ocean threatening creatures that build their shells and bodies from calcium. carbonate.



In our demonstration we put a sea shell in vinegar which slowly dissolves during the day. Creatures in the ocean are not dissolving, but they are struggling to access the calcium carbonate to build their shells and we are seeing thinner shells and even deformed shells that can make it easier for a predator to break through to eat the occupant.



We also had a display and activity based around plastic pollution.
An activity using rice (representing food) and lentils (representing plastic) to demonstrate the problems of micro-plastics. We even find plastic in the bodies of plankton. Tiny pieces of plastic can also absorb other pollutants increasing the risk to the oceans wildlife.

Ed the Bear wears a necklace made from a scientists ring band. A scientist placed it on the leg of an albatross chick which sadly died from swallowing plastic. Ed uses the necklace to share his experiences of the plight of these majestic birds.


We also set up a display of live inter-tidal invertebrates from our local beach and using a USB microscope cam displaying them on a screen









Intertidal exhibit video clip 





It was an amazing day with lots on excitement, enthusiasm and interest from the children. Our go home message was that the ocean will be an increasing focus for stem related careers to help us understand our planet or help solve the many threats to our planets continued health.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Eco School Summit Workshop, Plastic is Here to Stay

Today we took a little bit of Shoreham Beach to Davison CE High Schools for Girls for the E.Y.E summit. E.Y.E Stands for Eco Young and Engaged – The E.Y.E. Project was established in 2008 by Tim Loughton, M.P. for East Worthing and Adur.

The Project aims to raise sustainability awareness and encourage young people’s interest in the environment. It provides an additional opportunity for the young people within those schools to learn about environmental matters through fun and educational activities available at our Eco-Summit events across West Sussex.




I took along my display stand that looks at Shoreham as part of the global ocean and focused on the benefits we get from the ocean such as 50% of the oxygen we breathe. The display also explained why Shoreham Beach is special.

Bella was also there too with her message about water and her travels to the Amazon and Madagascar.

 

The theme of the event this year was sustainability and so we ran three workshops exploring plastic and considering if as invaluable to modern society or if it is an environmental scourge.


I started the workshop with the children suggesting things that were made of plastic and if this was a good or bad use of plastic and why.

 

To help understand how we have reached our current use of plastic, we explored how and why plastic was originally invented and how it was inspired by the amazing abilities and limitations of rubber. We looked at early plastics – such as celluloid – without which we would not have had a film industry at that time, which linked to the early film making at Shoreham.
We looked at Bakerlite which paved the way for modern plastics

 

I encouraged children to think of ways that the invention of plastic may have helped the environment – for example it greatly reduced our reliance on wood and reduced cutting down of woodland and rainforest).

 

We then discussed environmental problems from plastic, looking at terrestrial examples as well as marine. The children then took part in the Albatross game – which explores how albatross adults in Hawaiian Islands collect food (and accidentally plastic and other man-made items) which they feed to their chick. Explore plastic pollution threat to wildlife and the environment.



As albatross parents they will collect food for their chick. This will involve one child at a time picking up a card (face down) to reveal a plastic item or food item to feed their chick. Each child (albatross) will collect several cards and then we discussed the fate of their albatross chick.

Some collected just food items, some collected food items and small pieces of plastic some, a few collected food but also large items such as a tooth brush or disposable lighter. Will their chick survive? I then gave the children one last piece of information, just before it fledges the albatross chick will regurgitate a bolus of undigested food items such as squid beaks, fish scales etc and the bolus may include small bits of plastic, bottle tops etc.
The children then reconsidered the fate of their chick based on this.



We then looked at micro plastics with the help of a micros plastic activity and then discussed sources such as photo-degraded plastic, micro-beads and nylon threads from our clothes.
Consider if modern society can exist without plastic and discuss ideas of how society/we can help reduce the plastic debris problem.

 

We finished by looking at possible replacements for plastic such as bio-plastics made from natural materials – this included a possible new plastic made from the shells of shrimps and prawns that are currently discarded each year as part of seafood processing.
We then discussed ways that we can help with the current problem by choosing carefully what we buy, by reusing and recycling.
It was a great day and the children were very excited and keen to apply what they had learned to their own school or at home.

It was an amazing day.

You can find out more at http://www.eyeproject.co.uk/news