Often when I say to people I do underwater biodiversity/habitat surveys, they have an image of glorious tropical seas, great visibility, and general ohhing and ahhing at the beautiful marine critters. The reality is somewhat different (especially when you’re not in tropical waters!).
A small team of intrepid divers are currently undertaking maerl surveys at an offshore reef, just off the coast of Jersey (Channel Islands). Maerl is a hard red seaweed, that forms little blobs. It’s a super important habitat for our smaller ocean brethren, and super slow growing too. On this particular survey, my job was to conduct a general habitat and species survey of the site, and keep hold of the SMB – basically and inflatable sausage attached to the end of the line you can see me holding that sits on the surface of the sea so we can be spotted. You can see that the visibility wasn’t that great, but what you can’t see is the current that was trying to take me one direction, whilst the wind was pulling the SMB the other. This is why I’m kneeling on the seabed so I could make some notes on the board I am holding, whilst also making sure I don’t let go of the SMB!
Image: Taken by Kevin McIlwee/Jersey Seasearch