Divers discover diverse habitats in Porlock

DIVERS about to head off and explore marine life in Porlock Weir for the first time in 30 years. PHOTO: Dom Flint.

A LONG-clawed squat lobster. PHOTO: Bex Sandercock.

ONE of the divers returning with samples. PHOTO: Kat Brown.

First published in News

MARINE life in water off Porlock Weir has been studied by divers as part of the first scientific survey in Somerset in more than 30 years.

The Wildlife Trusts have commissioned divers to explore the waters to better understand the marine environment and help protect it.

Four professional divers – Dominic Flint, Paul Aldersley, Katarina Brown and Rebecca Sandercock – took to the water with marine ecologists and discovered two very diverse seabed habitats.

They found a boulder reef north of Gore Point and a sand and shell plain in the centre of Porlock Bay.

Rare stalked jellyfish, cuttlefish and squid eggs and squat lobsters and many crabs and fish were just some of the discoveries made.

The divers took photographs and small samples to help identify species living in the water.

The samples have been analysed and creatures identified to help provide an extensive species list for each site.

The areas hadn’t been surveyed since the 1970s due to the lack of diving structure nearby and because of the difficulties of getting to the sites and strong currents.

On both dives, visibility was poor for the divers.

Dominic Flint, marine scientist and leader of the dive team, said: “This survey complements the extensive intertidal, seashore, marine mammal and birdlife records collected by the Somerset Wildlife Trust members, volunteers and staff.

“This now provides a more complete picture of the fantastically diverse marine environment of the Somerset coast, which has been somewhat underappreciated in the past.

“The wealth of evidence provided by exploratory dive surveys like this, in areas where there is little or no habitat or seabed data, will ensure we have the evidence to secure their conservation and can be included in future discussions over marine protection and conservation measures.”

The dive is part of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas initiative to raise awareness of the county’s marine environment.

The trust is working with other organisations including the National Trust on projects highlighting the importance of the coast and wildlife and promoting it to locals and visitors.

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