Beluga whale spotted in the Thames

Posted on Sep 27, 2018

Attention turned to the river Thames on Tuesday (25 September), where a beluga whale was spotted almost 2,000 miles south of its typical geographic range: the southernmost UK sighting.

Marine mammal scientist and MBA member Prof. Chris Parsons said; "It is really strange to see a beluga here. There have been strandings of beluga whales in the UK historically, and occasionally sperm whales have come this far south, but for a beluga whale to come as far south as London is very unusual. It’s the temperature that may be a problem for this Arctic animal."

We spoke to Dr Chiara Giulia Bertulli, sightings officer for The Sea Watch Foundation who told us: "It’s not unusual to see belugas travelling up rivers, but it’s not very common to see them venturing so far south from where they usually live, which is the Arctic. It’s a very long journey, and we don’t know exactly what...

Are core functions maintained in novel kelp forests?

Posted on Aug 28, 2018

New research on north east Atlantic kelp forests examines whether 'novel ecosystems', brought about by warming seas, can provide the same vital services as pre-warming ecosystems.

Large canopy-forming kelp forests are foundation species In temperate marine environments. The warm-water kelp, Laminaria ochroleuca is expanding its range northwards, and is increasingly common in the kelp communities of south west England. Lead author of the research Albert Pessarrodona explains: “As the ocean warms, species are moving up slopes and towards the poles in order to remain within their preferred environmental conditions. Species with warm affinities are migrating to many habitats previously dominated by cold-water ones, transforming ecosystems as we know them. These so-called novel ecosystems feature a mix of warm- and cold-affinity species, but we don’t know whether they can retain...

The Microelectrode Techniques for Cell Physiology Workshop celebrates its 35th year at the MBA!

Posted on Aug 28, 2018

From tomorrow (Wednesday 29th August), the MBA will be privileged to host the two-week Microelectrode Techniques for Cell Physiology Workshop which is now celebrating its 35 th year!

Over 55 people will take part including 20 student participants (PhD and Post-Doctoral students from the UK, wider EU and beyond) who won places through a competitive application process.

The Cell Physiology Workshop was founded by Professor Anne Warner, Professor Colin Brownlee and Dr David Ogden. The Microelectrode Techniques for Cell Physiology Workshop is funded by:

BBSRC, The Physiological Society, The Company of Biologists and The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Equipment lenders and contributors are:

MBA, University of Plymouth; Universities of St Andrews, Helsinki and Paris Descartes; Cairn,...

The Beach Rangers blog, 14 August 2018. Plastic pollution in our oceans

Posted on Aug 16, 2018

Tuesday's session at Teats Hill this week was focused on plastic pollution in our oceans.

We helped the children understand the impact of their rubbish by using a timeline game to show them how long different types of rubbish take to break down, getting them to initially guess what they thought - as you can imagine everyone underestimated the time!! Following that we had a very productive litter pick which all parties involved loved. One 13 year-old commented 'I really enjoyed that, its nice to make a difference.'. It is unfortunately shocking how much we collected in just half an hour at Teats Hill - one child even found a sleeping mat! - but we were really pleased to prevent it from entering the ocean.

We also did lots of plastic crafts, making squids, turtles, fish and jellyfish from plastic bottles - they were amazing and I was very impressed with the creativity...

Fisheries White Paper: Contribute to official MBA consultation response

Posted on Aug 10, 2018

DEFRA is consulting on its future fisheries policy which sets out plans for regulation after the UK exits the European Union. This includes plans to maintain current quota systems and the application of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) principle, while allowing for more adaptive, science-based management that is in line with the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The consultation asks for advice and evidence on the proposed methods for sustainable management, quota allocation, discard prevention, as well as general regulations and relationships with other countries.

The Marine Biological Association has an opportunity to respond and we would like to continue to utilise out member’s expert opinions and comments. If you would like to contribute comments...

Experts explain why our sea is aglow

Posted on Aug 7, 2018

In advance of the National Fireworks competition, Plymouth’s sea is putting on a stunning natural sparkling display.

Have you noticed Plymouth’s sea sparkling at night over the last few weeks? The water has been lit up by a glow of blue bioluminescence, caused by a microscopic organism known as ‘sea sparkle’.

Sea sparkle is a type of phytoplankton known as Noctiluca scintillans , a free floating algae-like species that can both photosynthesise like a plant, but also ingest particles of food like an animal. When disturbed they emit a blue glow. N. scintillans is commonly found around UK shores; however, in order to see the blue glow, they must be in high abundance.

It is a rare but stunning sight, and this year has been particularly good for this species to thrive. The prolonged period of settled weather we have been enjoying has helped...

MBA Research Vessels

Posted on Jul 24, 2018

Salpa whose ship’s bell hangs above, was the sea-going facility of the Marine Biological Association from 1921 to 1939. She was an 88ft long, coal burning, ex-Admiralty steam drifter/trawler, built for minesweeping in World War I. Originally named Nadir , she entered service in July 1921, and in the next year was fitted with a small deck laboratory but always maintained a reputation for being an uncomfortable vessel for scientific work. During her eighteen years as a research vessel, she maintained the regular quarterly line of stations from Plymouth to Ushant as well as the monthly sampling at E1 and, from 1924, the weekly sampling at the Eddystone. After 1935 this activity was restricted to the E1 and Eddystone stations, but her trawling activities were essential for the supply of specimens for experimental work. At the outbreak of World War II, Salpa ...