My name is Greg Brown and I am a Marine Biology graduate from Swansea University, Wales. I spent 2014 supporting Sustainable Places PhD student, Richard Lilley (RJ) with his PhD research in Greece. I am now back in Swansea undertaking a MSc in Environmental Biology focusing on the modelling of seagrass distribution around Wales. This was my second time in the field with the Seagrass Ecosystem Research Group having worked previously with Dr Richard Unsworth in the Wakatobi National Park in Indonesia in 2012. With regards to the current study RJ wrote a blog published by the world seagrass association detailing his plans for a seasonal ecological study (see here: http://wsa.seagrassonline.org/blog/archives/304)
This blog post is an update on our progress.
After several weeks of training and trialling methods on the Greek island of Samos, RJ and a small team of volunteers began work on Lipsi island. Lipsi is a small island in the northern Dodecanese stretching just 8 km end to end, which plays host to a small and friendly community.
During our time on Lipsi we sampled at 9 sites using multiple methods including: Fyke nets, Minnow nets, Underwater Visual Census (UVC), and monoBRUV (one baited camera). We changed our plans from working with stereoBRUV (two baited cameras) due to calibration concerns with the equipment, which was only exacerbated by the difficult access (access is by foot) to many of the sites that would have made on site calibration impossible. An advantage of this change was that we have since collected twice the amount of footage, totalling 324 hours over the year. Our nets revealed 365 individual finfish, from 21 Families (39 Species) and the UVCs over 16,000 finfish, from 25 Families, (82 Species). The use of multiple methods has allowed us to detail habitat preference for individual species along with size measurements. Furthermore, the use of nets has unveiled the presence of principal Mediterranean species such as the Common Octopus, the European Cuttlefish and the emblematic Mediterranean Slipper Lobster.
In addition to the assemblage study, we have also conducted habitat assessments at each of the sites using a modified method of Seagrass-Watch. This has proved to be challenging, but successful, and has provided us with important background data to contextualise our assemblage study. We recorded measurements for the following parameters: seagrass species, percent cover, canopy height, invasive algae cover and substrate type.
Over the same period the team was also able to conduct a variety of social surveys in order to find out seafood consumption habits within the community, and to elicit seafood preferences and availability across the region. We will write another update soon detailing this part of our survey.
For more information on the Seagrass Ecosystems Research Group see here –http://www.seagrass.org.uk
For more information on Project Seagrass see here – http://www.project-seagrass.co.uk
For some footage from our monoBRUV system see here: