ShoreSearch at Brean

Bladderwrack, Fucus vesiculosus with evidence of nibbling by snails
© Karen Netto (Andrews) 2018-19

Shoresearch is a citizen science project to survey our coastal species. I attended a training session for volunteers at Brean on 17th November 2019. The day was aimed at training up volunteers to participate in next year’s intertidal shore surveys at various sites up the coast from Porlock to Brean.

Better Data

Somerset’s coast has been somewhat overshadowed by its neighbours. Our county needs better data on its coastal species in order to have more meaningful dialogue in future with politicians and developers. The information was simply not available in the past to state whether we were at risk of losing a rare species. Shoresearch offers an opportunity to monitor change over several years. It will observe the effects of climate change and invasive, non-native species.

Species Identification

The training took us through the species we could expect to find, before venturing out onto the beach after a safety talk. As novices, we concentrated on the different types of local seaweed and snails. We were given a useful FSC draft key for rocky shore species and recording sheets. Latin names are important as many of the common names differ around the country and can cause confusion.

Quadrat Demonstration

Shoresearch uses several survey methods: timed species searches, walkover and quadrat surveys. Firstly, a quadrat survey estimates the percentage cover in the canopy or top, then the seaweed is cleared away to investigate the species underneath.

Shoreline Observations

Our attention was drawn to species zonation. Different species are found at different levels or zones of the shore. There were the telltale signs of snails nibbling holes in seaweeds as in any garden (see very top photo).

Future Volunteer Surveys

You don’t have to take part in a training session to take part in one of next year’s Shoresearch surveys. Our day was nonetheless a great way to dip your toe in the water or, in Brean’s case, the silt and mud. 2020 events will take place on the 1st Sunday of every month at different coastal locations. They offer an opportunity to make a difference to the appreciation and understanding of Somerset’s coast and gain new skills.

Web Link

Somerset’s Brilliant Coast Initiative

© Karen Netto (Andrews) 2018-19

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