Capturing our Coast (CoCoast) is a marine citizen science project run by the Mieszkowska Group here at the MBA, who recently supported the Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat (GBNNSS) ‘Invasive Species week’ by asking the general public to help search for marine invasive species as part of a survey called ‘Marine Invaders’.
Although events were held nationally by all of CoCoast’s seven national hubs, the MBA’s team who cover all of the Southwest held various events for volunteers including an invasive species identification evening, a public open evening and two Marine Invaders species searches in Plymouth and Torbay.
On 22nd March, CoCoast kicked started Invasive Species Week with a specially organised marine invasive species identification evening for their citizen scientists, where training was provided courtesy of Dr John Bishop and Chris Wood of the MBA’s Bishop Group.
Volunteers were given the opportunity to get hands on with a range of live and preserved marine invasive species and pick up tips for their identification, including the Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis), Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), the Pacific Oyster (Magallana gigas) and the Leathery Sea Squirt (Styela clava).
The Southwest team then opened up the MBA’s Resource Centre to the general public, inviting them to an open evening on Wednesday 28th March where preserved specimens were on display and a mixture of speakers discussed their work involving marine invasive species, including:
Jack Sewell: Training Facilities Manager and Senior Science Interpreter at the MBA, who discussed horizon scanning for invasive and non-native species.
- Kathryn Pack: PhD Student at the MBA and previous CoCoast Project Officer for the Southwest, who discussed her work and progress into the effects of climate change on Pacific Oysters (Magallana gigas).
- Dr Stacy Krueger-Hadfield: Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology, University of Alabama, who filmed her talk about invasive red algae using genetics.
- Dr Will Ryan: Post-doc researcher at the Department of Biology, University of Alabama, who also filmed himself discussing his research into the invasive Orange-striped Anemone (Diadumene lineata) that we currently find in harbours of the Southwest
Finally, two troops of eager volunteers took to the coasts of Plymouth on Thursday 29th March and Torbay on Saturday 31st March to search for Marine Invaders. The teams found Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), Pacific Oysters (Magallana gigas) and Japanese Wireweed (Sargassum muticum) in Plymouth, and all the same species as well as Slipper Limpets (Crepidula fornicata) in Torbay. In total, 132 timed searches were conducted for Invasive Species Week around the country, with 46 new positive sightings recorded.
If you’d like to get involved in the search for Marine Invaders and help record the presence and absence of marine invasive species around the UK on any rocky shore, sandy/muddy beach or man-made structure (such as harbours), then please visit www.mba.ac.uk/marineinvaders/ and or see the Capturing our Coast website for more information on the project www.capturingourcoast.co.uk.