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A successful survey at Central Fladen (Survey 0723S Blog #3)

By Lucy Hirschle

Offshore SurveyMarine Central Fladen MPA0723S

Our latest blog post is the final update from our offshore survey team on their recent survey to Central Fladen Marine Protected Area (MPA) (Survey 0723S).

JNCC and the Marine Directorate of the Scottish Government have had a great week out sampling in the Central Fladen Marine Protected Area (MPA) and have collected vital information about the site. Thanks to the hard work of everyone on board the MRV Scotia and our fantastic luck with the weather we have completed both our priority 1 and 2 sampling sites, which will provide valuable information helping us learn about the condition of the animals and habitats that support them within the MPA, contributing to helping us monitor change within this marine protected area.

Figure 1. Map of the Central Fladen MPA site and the stations visited during the survey. 

In total, we collected samples of the seabed sediment and the animals it contains from 133 sampling stations within the MPA boundary (represented by circle symbols on Figure 1) and along the centre of the subglacial tunnel valley (represented by square symbols on Figure 1). The filled shapes (Figure 1) represent stations we were able to collect samples from and the open shapes stations we were not able to collect a valid sample.

After collection on the boat, the samples go through a number of other processes to reveal the information we need to assess condition and effectively monitor change in the MPA. After we have collected, sieved and fixed the samples to prevent the biological material from degrading, they are sent to a lab where the animals in each sample are counted, identified to species level and weighed for biomass. We call these samples "infauna samples".

Along with the infaunal samples we also take a separate sediment sample which is analysed for particle size. The percentage of different sized grains in the sediment will determine how the habitat is defined. We expect the Central Fladen MPA to be mostly mud, however, we did see some coarser sediments in some areas we grabbed. This information is then taken by our analysts at JNCC, who collate both the infauna and particle size data into an MPA monitoring report. Here they make assessments about the site and how its health changes over time.

The data collected is also used by different teams within JNCC and, once it is ready, the final step of the data journey will be when the data is published on the Marine Recorder database where it is available for anyone to utilise.

Figure 2. The JNCC survey crew onboard the MRV Scotia. 

Figure 3. Leaving the Central Fladen MPA onboard the MRV Scotia.

It is with many thanks to the captain and crew of the MRV Scotia and our Marine Directorate of Scotland colleagues for all their efforts on this survey that we say farewell for now.

If you missed our earlier blog posts on this survey, you can find them via the following links:

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