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Many Universities and scientists are undertaking leading marine research and science projects across Scotland and further afield. With only 5% of the seas having been explored, there are exciting and important discoveries being made all the time. Through our links with some of these scientists, we will able to present their findings at events and exhibitions. A couple of evening talks have already taken place and more of these are planned. Videos of our two recent talks are viewable below by clicking on the YouTube links.
Dr Lea-Anne Henry
Lea-Anne is an ecologist with broad interests in biodiversity, biogeography and ecosystem function. Her work focuses on ecological structure and functioning of marine habitats; impacts of human activities and climate change on ocean ecosystems; and ecology of the marine Hydrozoa (very small, predatory animals most living in salt water).
SIORC is an ongoing community project with MASTS to research sharks, skates and rays (elasmobranchs) around Scotland’s coastline. Unknown to many, there are 66 known species (and counting) 25% of which are on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species (that’s more than the global average of 17%). Long-term changes in the character of Scotland’s sharks have occurred, a combination of climate change and human pressures having significant effects. The full project name is: Sharks, skates and rays In the Offshore Region and Coastal zone of Scotland.
Lea-Anne is working with Scottish sea anglers, government scientists and Scottish universities to undertake shark tagging programmes that reveal the importance of Scotland’s seas for shark mating and nursery grounds.
Exploration of the deep-sea using video cameras, seafloor mapping and oceanographic instruments has also revealed the importance of Scotland’s cold-water coral reefs to sharks and skates for spawning grounds. It has been found that some species are even returning to the same reefs to lay their eggs year-after-year.
Professor John Baxter
John is Principal Adviser – Marine at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), where he is responsible for the coordination of the SNH marine research, survey and monitoring work, providing quality assurance of all research outputs. He has also acted as Unit Head in the organisation’s Policy and Advice Directorate, as well as its National Oil Spill Response Advisor.
John represents SNH on a number of high level inter-agency and inter-governmental steering groups at both the Scottish and UK levels including the Special Committee on Seals (SCOS), and the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group. John is Chief Editor (Marine and Coastal) of the international journal ‘Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems’ publishing 6 issues per year. He has published many papers and holds an honorary readership at the University of St Andrews, among others.
Two species of seal are permanent residents in Britain – the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and the common, or harbour, seal (Phoca vitulina). Both spend much of their time at sea, but come ashore to breed and moult. This provides the opportunity to count seal numbers and to tag some individuals to capture data about their movements. The most recently developed method for seal counting is to use helicopters fitted with a ‘thermal imaging’ camera, which detects the warmth of a seal’s body. John provides an overview of how the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at St Andrews University carry out aerial surveys of the Scottish coastline in order to estimate how many seals are within a given area. Interesting findings show how seal distribution has changed over time. The talk also covers related work to tag seals in order to track their movements. In addition, the techniques involved in establishing what seals at various locations are eating is discussed.