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Marine wildlife at Boscombe

Goldsinny Wrasse - photo by Steve Trewhella BU academics unveil the local surf reef’s rich marine biodiversity at a public event at Boscombe Seafront on 26-27 October.

A partnership of ecologists led by the Centre for Conservation Ecology & Environmental Change based in Bournemouth University’s School of Applied Sciences are studying the rich biodiversity that has developed on Europe’s first artificial surf reef.

So far over 60 species have been found on the Boscombe Surf Reef, in Bournemouth Bay, including algae, molluscs, crustaceans and fish, which have been recorded since the manmade structure was completed last autumn.

In order to extend this research into the local community, the University's School of Applied Sciences are holding the ‘Marine Wildlife at Boscombe’ event on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 October at Boscombe Seafront from 10am-4pm. Attendance is free.

Visitors will be able to study marine life displayed in aquaria and species caught in nets and traps set from the pier. There will be talks about rocky shores and climate change, marine bird life, reefs around the world and more, as well as underwater video footage and exhibits.

Senior Lecturer in Marine and Coastal Biology at BU, Dr Roger Herbert, said: “Marine life can colonise structures quite quickly, whether they be wrecks or piers. This is often dependent on the substrate that the reef is made from. In the case of the surf reef, the outer substrate is a geotextile, which covers the sandbags. After one year, the reef has been colonised by a wealth of marine life.

“We hope everybody will take an interest in the marine wildlife of the bay," Dr Herbert added. "There has been much recent publicity concerning the global diversity of marine wildlife in our oceans, yet we know relatively little about the marine wildlife on our doorstep. The section of coast between Dorset and the Isle of Wight is of strategic importance as an observatory for studying the effects of climate change on the marine environment, because for many species it represents a border between northern and southern limits of their distribution. It is possible that we will find new and recent colonists”.

Dr Herbert and his team’s research is part of an on going three year project supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The Bournemouth University scientists aim to quantify the colonisation of marine organisms on the reef structure and compare the results with nearby natural rocky outcrops in Poole Bay and the artificial Boscombe and Bournemouth Pier structures.

The project, which is in association with URBANE (Urban Research on Biodiversity in Artificial & Natural Coastal Environments), should influence design guidelines for future construction in the sea. Dr Herbert explained: “We are used to smooth surfaces on many structures; however, working with engineers, we may be able to include new features, such as differently shaped holes, crevices and variations in surface roughness that will benefit fish and other wildlife. These may sound obvious, but can present significant challenges in design and engineering.”
The ‘Marine Wildlife at Boscombe’ event is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council, the Friends of Boscombe Pier group called ‘Inspieration’, the RNLI, Urban Reef, Bournemouth Oceanarium, Boscombe Area Regeneration Group (BARG), National Oceanography Centre, Durlston Head Country Park and Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Where: Boscombe seafront and pier, Bournemouth
When: Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 October, 2010 - 10.30am to 4.00pm. Attendance is free.

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