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Keeping busy in wintry weather!

By Josh Tate


Whilst we’re still waiting for the weather to improve out in the North Sea to start our offshore MPA survey work (thanks Storm Barra!), we’ve been keeping ourselves busy collecting samples closer to shore for Natural England’s MPA monitoring work.

We’ve been using a sediment corer called a 'NIOZ box corer' to collect large seabed samples, that are then passed through a sieve to collect any burrowing megafauna (animals larger than 5 mm) that may be living within the seabed sediment. These will then be identified later by taxonomists working in the laboratory.

Photograph of the NIOZ box corerImage 1: The NIOZ box corer we have been using to collect seabed samples. © JNCC/Cefas.


In order to further understand the composition of the seabed we have also deployed a Sediment Profile Imaging (SPI) system. This is a specially designed camera system that embeds itself in the sea floor and takes photographs, giving us an idea of how the sediment changes below the surface. Often layers of differing colours can be seen, with darker, almost black areas indicating low-oxygen (anoxic) conditions. If we are really lucky we might spot some burrows from the organisms we are looking for in the sediment cores!

Image 2: The Sediment Profile Imaging (SPI) system; and an example photograph from the SPI system, with light brown sand and mud at the surface and darker coloured anoxic sediment deeper down. © JNCC/Cefas.


We’re still watching the weather closely and hope to head offshore soon, check out our next blog to see how we get on!

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