Coastwise members held their first microscope session of the year courtesy of Ilfracombe Sub Aqua Club last week, with a presentation on the laptop featuring their first video clips of tiny crabs and other crustaceans, tube worms, sea spiders and sea snails. In addition, many members had not used microscopes, so teaching material was prepared to help their first steps.
In a well-planned operation, Paula Ferris had anticipated the tides and gathered the right sort of seaweed the previous evening, and in the morning, Ilfracombe Harbour was trawled for plankton. Those new to plankton were fascinated by the variety, and the favourite was the mesmerising Bacillaria paradoxa, or "carpenter's rule".
Our seaweed expert Sarah Hodgkiss demonstrated how much can be seen even at low magnification, and new microscope users were surprised at the structure that is visible, and the animal life that inhabits some quite unpromising-looking weed.
We're opening the door on a whole new microscopic marine world, one which even television is only just beginning to explore, so we have a lot to learn. We plan to develop our skills over the summer in time to showcase the results to the community at a BioBlitz to be held at Woolacombe on 7th September to mark the Biosphere's 10th Anniversary.