Summer 2014 Research Programme
Scientists from across the United Kingdom are continuing our annual summer research programme within Lamlash Bay No Take Zone, and the newly designated South Arran Marine Protected Area.
Mathilda Evans, an MSc student from Edinburgh Napier University, joined COAST in June to conduct her ecotourism research project on Arran, looking into visitor interest in ‘marine-based activities’ and the readiness of Arran to make the most of the recently designated Marine Protected Area. Her research will be used by COAST to help realise the potential for marine-based tourist initiatives with local businesses, and will provide valuable insight into the general interest in marine issues, and the market for marine based activities.
In July, following on from successful surveys in Lamlash Bay’s No Take Zone over the last 3 years, COAST welcomed Dr Bryce Beukers-Stewart and MSc student Matthew Judge from the University of York. They will continue surveying the population of crustaceans within Arran’s No Take Zone to establish how marine life is recovering following designation of the protected area in 2008. This is important scientific research that is vital to our understanding of the No Take Zone with implications for conservation and fisheries management in UK waters.
Previous surveys by York University shows that the designation of the No Take Zone has changed the population dynamics of crustaceans within the protected area. The size and abundance of lobster has markedly increased over time, meaning the percentage of lobsters that are above legal size is greater in the No Take Zone than in surrounding waters and there is a greater abundance of lobsters within the zone than outside. The protection of vital nursery ecosystems within the No Take Zone has also increased the size, age and biomass of scallops and there is evidence of increased juvenile scallop presence within the No Take Zone.
Bryce, Matt and local Creeler, Iain Cusick begin recording lobsters within the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone on board Julie Anne
However the abundance of Brown Crab is greater outside the No Take Zone, suggesting that protection from all extractive activities within the NTZ has altered population dynamics.
This year surveying of lobster and crab populations continues in and around Lamlash Bay’s No Take Zone and will build the continuing relationship between COAST and the University of York and provide further evidence about the No Take Zone ecosystem. COAST also wish to congratulate Leigh Howarth, who began surveying Lamlash Bay’s No Take Zone for successfully completing his PhD on the Lamlash Bay No Take Zone. Leigh has submitted papers based on this work for publication later this year.
Other work currently being undertaken includes that by Sophie Elliot from Glasgow University, who is currently in year two of her PhD investigating the relationship between inshore habitats around Arran and fish nursery grounds. Sophie’s research involves scuba diving and using underwater camera systems in an attempt to better understand the role that coastal habitats have for juvenile marine species and the link between the presence of those juvenile species and environmental conditions, such as sea water temperature, currents, and the seasonal arrival of zooplankton.
The "Actinia" Sophie Elliot's Millport-based research vessel above and on deck below