Marine Scotland

Coastal Monitoring Represented at Local Festival

October 4, 2010 by No Comments | Category Marine Scotland general, Marine Scotland Science

MSS had a stall at a local maritime festival to promote awareness of the coastal monitoring work.
To read an account of the day click on the below link (blue text).

Maritime Rescue Institute, Harbour Festival, September 2010

by John Dunn

As part of the Coastal Ecosystem monitoring programme at Marine Scotland Science (MSS) which runs out of Stonehaven every week of the year, my colleagues and I are weel kent faces around the harbour, and are often asked ‘what we are doing?’, and ‘why is it important?’.

So when Dr Jens Rasmussen suggested that we should consider taking part in the Maritime Rescue Institute’s (MRIs) harbour festival, an annual event which publicly demonstrates it’s commitment to, and links within, the community it serves, it seemed like the ideal place for MSS to inform a wider audience about the work the monitoring work they conduct in that area.

After sampling one day several months ago Jens and I enquired at the offices of MRI about the logistics of taking part. The organiser of the event was absolutely delighted that we were interested in taking part, but we did stress that we would have to seek official approval to take part. This was duly given and we confirmed our presence at the event.

Then the real business of what exactly we would display and ho began. As this is very much a family day we decided early on that we would have to have something for children to do or take away. As the theme of the stalls was to be pirate orientated we decided on some cartoons of plankton wearing pirate costumes which the children could colour in. These proved to very popular indeed and we were left with very few indeed after the event.

Three superb MSS posters were prepared and printed by Keith Mutch, explaining why we are doing the monitoring, what we are doing, and how we are doing it. They also drew attention to the fact that this coastal monitoring programme is a national asset, providing data to a number of national and international organisations (e.g. Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea). This data set (and a parallel one collected in Loch Ewe on the west coast) is also improving our understanding of changes in our seas, which impact on higher trophic levels such as fish, birds and marine mammals.

We had also intended to have live zooplankton on the stand to let the public see what they look like, however, extremely windy and poor weather at sea precluded this and instead we had some culture flasks filled with preserved plankton.

The weather forecast for the Sunday was not good and in fact when Michael Penston and I arrived at the harbour on Sunday morning there was a considerable amount of confusion and various volunteers were desperately trying to lash down the stands to stop them from blowing off into the harbour. We were almost at the end of the pier where our research vessel Temora was berthed looking very spruce.

Initially we busied ourselves setting up and labelling some of the sampling equipment on Temora which we use. Michael Penston and I had been joined by Steve Hay and Susan Robinson by this time and along with Raymond Cargill on Temora we made a jolly team. We had a constant stream of visitors which grew as the day went on, and as the weather improved. These included Bill Howatson (provost of Aberdeenshire council), Carol Kinghorn (deputy Lord Lieutenant) and a trustee of M.R.I., and Sir Robert Smith MP and Paul Melling, local Aberdeenshire councillor.

We were still busy talking to interested members of the public at 4.30 as volunteers were getting ready to dismantle the stands. We later learned that there had been 7,000 people at the event, we had given out over 100 packs of information to genuinely interested members of the public, and many more will have been encouraged to look on the internet at some of the information which is there as a result of our local coastal monitoring programme.

Special thanks must go to Raymond Cargill (Coxswain of Temora) for preparing the vessel and for staying with it all day. Keith Mutch, for his expertise, advice, and boundless enthusiasm, in preparing all the handouts and posters. Sarah Heath for proof reading the prepared literature and posters. Michael Penston, Steve Hay and Susan Robinson for giving up half of their Sunday to patiently answer questions on the project and Dr Jens Rasmussen, for his cartoons of plankton, for his excellent suggestions on how to get a complex scientific programme across to the general public.

– John Dunn

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