Marine Scotland & JNCC do joint research

October 29, 2014 by No Comments | Category Marine Directorate Science, Research Vessel Surveys

Marine Scotland Science and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have joined up to do some research at the Solan Bank Reef Site of Community Importance (SCI) in Scottish offshore waters. Solan Bank Reef is one of 20 offshore candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC) in UK offshore waters. The site is designated for Annex I reef (sub-types ‘bedrock’ and ‘stony’ reef).

On the 27 October 2014, five JNCC staff joined the MRV Scotia to work with scientists from Marine Scotland Science. They will undertake a detailed survey of the Solan Bank Reef SCI to gather seabed evidence to inform the development of a national indicator of ‘Good Environmental Status’ for sponge and other epifaunal communities ( as part of the UK’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

As the indicator metrics were developed for SCUBA diver surveys, the survey hopes to determine whether these can be adapted for use in deeper waters, particularly for estimating the abundance of different sponge morphologies. The survey team will be using a drop down camera system to collect high definition seabed imagery in order to assess changes in sponge and other epifaunal communities in response to natural variables and human-induced pressures.

Data on environmental parameters which could contribute to community structure (e.g. turbidity, temperature, current flow and direction) will be collected, and imagery data collected will also help improve our understanding of the distribution and extent of Annex I reef in the site and the biological communities associated with them.

JNCC has created an offshore survey blog to keep people up to date with work we’re carrying out gathering evidence to underpin our work on MPA and wider monitoring and assessment. JNCC staff will regularly update the blog, sharing information and images from the survey.


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