Looking at Secret Lives.....

.......under the microscope at a Coastwise Microscope Workshop.

A Coastwise Microscope workshop was held at Ilfracombe Dive Club on 23 June for 20 members of Coastwise and other organisations. Star of the show was a new microscopy set-up designed to let members share their microscope viewing and learn more about the hidden world of the shore together (pictured R).

Coastwise obtained a grant of £890 from the North Devon AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund  to buy a special DSLR camera linked to a trinocular microscope and laptop computer.  By projecting the images onto a big screen members can  share their knowledge and learn more about the tiny marine animals abundant on the rocky shore.

Workshop members studied samples collected from local beaches, initially viewed   individually through field microscopes. For a closer look and discussion interesting animals were transferred to the trinocular  microscope for big screen viewing and photographing.  

Coastwise enthusiast Paula Ferris says “We get to see the animals close-up, behaving as they do in the wild. Before our eyes they eat and hide from predators. New life emerges, larvae develop, animals morph and moult. Beautiful creatures open up to reveal their full glory, such as the tiny Sagartia anemone seen here, smaller than a pea.  Having studied and photographed them we return them to the sea.

By taking photographs we hope to build up a library of images and video clips to share with others as our skills develop”.   

Coastwise members are starting to notice tiny plastic fibres amongst the samples, the man-made microplastics that wash into the sea from clothing, which emphasises the importance of monitoring the marine environment.

Coastwise says “Thank you” to the  AONB for helping us to do so, and  to Ilfracombe Dive Club for generously hosting the workshop.

Pictured R: Sargatia elegans anemone (top), AONB microscope in use, and (bottom) nudibranch eggs projected via AONB microscope and laptop computer.

Copyright Coastwise