Welcome to our blog! In January 2008 we started working on our new NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) 'sustainable marine bioresources' funded bid entitled 'Do oceanographic characteristics and predator-prey behaviours define critical marine habitats?'. It's headed by Dr Beth Scott, here at the University of Aberdeen, and by Dr Jonathan Sharples at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL). We're also partnered up with the FRS (Fisheries Research Services), CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Council), MRAG (Marine Resources Assessment Group), and CFPO (Cornish Fish Producers Organisation). I work as the post-doc on the project - and it's great fun! I've already had lots of fun analysing data we already have from the North Sea looking at changes in schooling behaviour of sandeels with different tidal currents, and how this affects top predators like kittiwakes (will be talking about the results at the ICES conference in Halifax in September).
But for now we're all set for our main survey in the Celtic Sea (not far from the Scilley Isles off Cornwall): we're off on 1st July on the RRS James Cook leaving from Southampton (see picture on left). Beth & I are heading up the collection of data for everything from zooplankton, to fish, marine mammals and seabirds! But we're only a small part of a larger group all of use headed by the cruise leader Jonathan Sharples. On board we'll have oceanographers, phytoplankton specialists (the little plants of the sea on which all our tiny zooplankton critters munch on), benthos specialists (who'll tell us what sort of critters there are on the bottom), and many more - I'll keep you posted through the survey... we'll be at sea for nearly a month, and at the moment hoping for nice calm weather & a nice smooth survey :o) So watch this space for all the exciting discoveries & adventures we have on our survey!
:o) Clare Embling