Inside the genome of the common red seaweed Porphyra

Posted on Jul 20, 2017

A red seaweed of the genus Porphyra

Porphyra is a common red seaweed found in the intertidal zone throughout the world. In addition to its important role in coastal ecosystems, Porphyra and the closely related genus Pyropia are important food crops in parts of the world (e.g. laver, nori). MBA researchers have been involved in analysing the genome sequence of Porphyra umbilicalis as part of an international consortium aiming to understand more about this seaweed and the evolution of the red algae. The research, led by Prof Susan Brawley (University of Maine), demonstrates that Porphyra contains many unique features that allow it to survive in the intertidal zone. In particular, the MBA team identified that the mechanisms used by Porphyra to sense its environment are unique to red algae and appear to differ considerably from those in the green algae. The results therefore not only tell us more about the ecology and...

Will a non-native macroalgae change our kelp forests?

Posted on Jul 19, 2017

Native kelps are important habitats for marine wildlife
Native kelps are important habitats for marine wildlife.

A new paper published by a group of researchers at the MBA considers the interactions between native macroalgal canopies and the non-native kelp Undaria pinnatifida (Wakame). A mixture of field surveys and manipulations on the rocky reefs of Plymouth Sound indicated that the spread of Undaria is inhibited by the presence of native competitors, particularly large perennial species ( Laminaria spp.). However, the non-native could still be found within dense native canopies, suggesting that disturbance to, or the absence of, canopies is not a prerequisite for Undaria colonisation. The authors conclude that Undaria is now a conspicuous and widespread component of the flora of Plymouth Sound. However, it is unlikely to cause major ecological changes as long as environmental conditions remain favourable for long-lived native species. See below for the full reference and a link to the...

The Beach Rangers are back!

Posted on Jul 6, 2017

Beach Rangers at Kinterbury Creek

The Beach Rangers are back: join us for marine adventures this summer!

Beach Rangers run free family-friendly events on Plymouth’s beautiful shores. Join us on Wednesdays at Teat’s Hill and Thursdays at Kinterbury Creek from 11am-3pm throughout August. There is no need to book. Just turn up and get involved!

Plymouth Sound is home to many curious and wonderful creatures and its importance for marine wildlife is internationally recognized. Beach Rangers will help you discover these wonders and there will be plenty of fun along the way!

Activities will include rock pooling, arts and crafts, games and much more. You can get creative, learn why the sea is so important to people, whilst also helping gather information on our Crab Watch citizen science project.

Beach Rangers events are run In partnership...

Crab Watchers Wanted! New Citizen Science Project to Monitor Crab Species

Posted on Jul 5, 2017

Young people participating in Crab Watch
Young people participating in Crab Watch, Spain

Crab Watchers Wanted! New Citizen Science Project to Monitor Crab Species

How does finding a crab on the beach make you feel? Excited? Wary? Fascinated? By joining Crab Watch, a new citizen science project taking place across Europe, your search for these captivating creatures will have the added incentive of contributing to scientific research. Crab Watch invites citizens across Europe to play a key role in the scientific process by gathering valuable data to enhance our knowledge of the changing distribution of native and non-native crabs. By establishing a network of Crab Watchers to record and report crab distribution, it is hoped that new arrivals will be detected early and appropriate environmental management action can then be taken quickly.

You can find everything you need to become a Crab Watcher, including the Crab App (coming soon), on the Sea Change...

OSPAR launches its 2017 Intermediate Assessment

Posted on Jun 29, 2017

OSPAR intermediate assessment

OSPAR's Intermediate Assessment 2017 was launched yesterday.

This assessment, covering both status and trends across the North-East Atlantic, presents a picture of this important marine area and includes consideration of biological diversity, eutrophication, hazardous substances, radioactive substances, offshore oil and gas industries, a range of other human pressures, ocean acidification and the impact of a changing ocean climate. Attention is given to socio-economic analysis and the methodology required to undertake a full ecosystem assessment. Finally, the IA 2017 presents key messages and headline information that will set the foundation for progress and development.

See the key messages and highlights

Whale mass strandings - the nexus between conservation and welfare

Posted on Jun 23, 2017

Whale stranding

MBA member Karen Stockin delivered the Citadel Hill seminar this week on the often-overlooked human impacts on cetaceans in mass strandings.

Globally, whale strandings continue to fascinate and intrigue scientists and the public alike. New Zealand in particular, has an international reputation for its high frequency of mass strandings. Moreover, the extensive public engagements that occur during strandings of charismatic megafauna are unprecedented. For example, whale mass strandings bring together pākehā (non-Māori New Zealander) and Māori cultures in New Zealand in a way few other activities do.

Despite costly, and often logistically challenging attempts to rescue live whales, a lack of scientific evaluation underpins current decision-making processes. Notably, matters of conservation (survivorship/fitness) and animal welfare (impacts of refloatation), remain...

NaGISA visit the MBA

Posted on Jun 22, 2017

Between the 14 th and 15 th members of the NaGISA team at Niceville, High-school, Florida visited the Marine Biological Association Laboratory in Plymouth. The Natural Geography in Shore Areas (NaGISA) project is a collaborative effort to produce a global baseline of near shore biodiversity and to continue monitoring those shores for the next 50 years. NaGISA uses both passive and active sampling to assess quantitative, qualitative ecological and taxonomic information. For more information you can visit their website .

Students and staff from Ivybridge Community College joined the group and helped carry out surveys of the mid and lower rocky shore at Firestone Bay. A range of surveys were conducted including dive and shore-based quadrat sampling, sediment samples and species were also collected by to be identified in the laboratory. A variety of intertidal species were found...