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Posts Tagged ‘oceans’

The sea is a mysterious place – millions and millions of gallons of water home to marinelife both above and below the sea’s surface. I am at my most relaxed and chilled when I am on a boat watching anything from dolphins to birds. And a bird you can almost guarantee to see is the Gannet. It is huge, very white and definitely my favourite.

Image of a Gannet by Richard Towell Flicr

Its’ long body, pointed wings with black tips and summery yellow head make it unmistakable. The bill is the Gannet’s most important tool. When they find a shoal of fish they hold their wings back and become a straight, pointed dagger. Dropping at speed, they plunge the water, catch their fish and rise to the surface to eat their prey within seconds.

This year I went out on a boat to see thousands of Gannets breeding on the small island, Bass Rock, in Scotland. It was certainly a sensory experience. The smell (very smelly and fishy!), the sight (a spectacle), the sound (a grating cacophony) and the taste (seasalt on your lips).

If you’d like to see your own Gannet watch from a coastal vantage point looking out to the horizon, get out onto a special boat trip or if you don’t like boats watch young Gannets currently still in their nests at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire.

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Did you guess what Freshwater species this morning’s picture was of? It’s a…. BANDED DEMOISELLE!

Banded demoiselles are a type of damselfly. Although their larvae are aquatic, flight is the key to success for adult banded demoiselles. Males compete on the wing for breeding territories. And a territory owner will then court any visiting female by doing a special display flight for her.

Click here for some great BBC videos of Demoiselles and more information on Damselflies.

The Banded Demoiselle- Photographs from iSpot

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For each of our 12 themed finale days, we are setting you a challenge to work out what species our photograph is of. In the morning, we’ll be posting a close up photograph of part of the species. You’ll have all day to try and work out what it is before we post the whole picture later that afternoon. Good luck!

Tweet us your answer @MeettheSpecies, leave a comment below or facebook us (links on the right!)

So here’s your challenge for the day, and don’t forget that this species can only be a FRESHWATER/ POND species….

Guess the Species- Freshwater

(Unfortunately we are unable to award Richard Comont with any points/ kudos for guessing the species correctly as he is far too good at this game!)

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Yesterday was the ultimate minibeast mayhem with a huge diversity of critters getting us buzzing. Hopefully you now have bug hotel building on your weekend to-do list and been inspired that a little bug hunting goes a long way for entertainment and sciene. YAY SCIENCE!

Can we keep up the momentum and tick off the last species? Lets go underwater for another search!

Day 9 – Pondamonium – The Freshwater Story

There’s a whole new world waiting beneath the duckweed… and Eleanor from the Meet the Species team is sharing her favourite tips on pond dipping – but has she got the T-shirt? (Can she beat Matt’s effort on Day 2’s Beetlemania?)

Common Toad – Bufo bufo

With your trusty net gently sweep the water in a figure of 8 and fish out all kinds of pond life – from pond snails and skaters, to whirligig beetles and smooth newts. And the good news is that pond dipping can be messy! So dig out old clothes and wellies first, and please keep your balance!

Pond dipping at Wilderness Festival: one of our Meet the Species feature events

Ponds are really important places for wildlife, so it’s worth looking to see if you could create a little watery haven in your back garden or local green space. The dragonflies will soon helicopter in and frogspawn seems to appear from nowhere.

Make a Great Crafted Newt (sorry!) and enter Froglife’s latest art competition and dive into the world of freshwater

So follow the race here and…

  • Build your own freshwater wildlife haven
  • Dive into dragonflies
  • Craft a cresty
  • Get stuck on the water stick insect
  • Get a guide to pond dipping by the pros
  • Discover which species we’re still looking for
  • Get more info on the freshwater plants and animals on the list
  • Find out about iSpot and how to record your all-important finds

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Well after that long day of testing our sealegs here at Meet the Species HQ I think we’re just about ready to head into shore. Today has really highlighted the amazing diversity to be found in the seas and around the extensive coastline of Great Britain that we should all be out there enjoying and helping to conserve! Whether you’ve taken up Bernard the Gurnards petission, joined the MARINElife movement or offered support to the Marine Conservation Society; Booked yourself a trip around the coasts of Wales using the Wildlife Trusts great map or simply got yourself down to the beach for a bit of good old rockpooling, I hope you’ve been inspired to go out and get a bit wet this weekend!

What’s on tomorrow?

Tomorrow we come back to dry land for Moths and Butterflies day with the National Trusts very own Matthew Oates! So join us for a colourful and magical time tommorow as we discover the dark art of moth-ing and the beauty of butterflies!

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Our Meet the Species event – A hardy determination!

Eleanor Stone describes how bad weather failed to dampen the spirits of the hardy islanders of the Isle of Man BioBlitz!

It seems that the great British summer weather is not to be trusted as, despite several glorious days leading up to the Manx Wildlife Trust’s BioBlitz event on the 12th August, the morning itself dawned windy and overcast. So it was with a sense of trepidation that our education officer and I headed for the hills for BioBlitz: Part 1, up on the heath moorland of our Dalby mountain reserve. Well, if we thought it was dodgy down at sea level, by the time we got to the reserve, it was worse! Driving rain & strong winds are enough to send most creatures into hiding, including the members of the public we’d hoped to show around. A few hardy souls had shown up though, so we donned waterproofs, hats and gloves (it was August after all!) and set off for a short walk to see what we could find.

Clearly there weren’t going to be many/any insects or birds around, but the great thing about plants is that they don’t move. We found 68 different bog heathland type species in total, just by walking a few hundred metres along the path, along with 3 bird species. The most impressive was probably the sundew, a carnivorous plant with tiny, beautiful flowers.

Sundew – photo courtesy oldbilluk

After decamping to our Bioblitz: Part 2 location and warming up with hot chocolates, the clouds miraculously parted and the sun made a brief appearance. On to the marine survey, along with a couple of families who braved the weather and joined us rockpooling. After an hours blitz, living up to the event’s name, we’d found 76 species; most from the rockpools, a fair few flying above and even a curious seal watching us from the water.

Grey Seal – photo courtesy Yeimaya

As the marine officer for the Manx Wildlife Trust, this was where I became useful, well, more so than I had been up in the hills. Rockpools are home to some fabulous creatures, including starfish, anemones, prawns and crabs. We found several of one of my favourite animals, the hermit crab. These industrious little crabs don’t have a protective shell of their own, so have to make do with an empty shell of another creature, usually some sort of sea snail. They scuttle around quite effectively in their borrowed shell, retreating right into it at the first sign of danger and using their big right claw as door across the entrance. As they grow, they have to find progressively larger shells, leading to hard fought fights over the ‘best’ home; apparently not any old shell will do, it has to be just the right size and shape before being accepted.

Despite the weather  making it a rather shorter BioBlitz than we’d planned, we still had fun and enjoyed getting closer to nature. There’s so much out there if you take the time to have a good look.

What does the Manx Wildlife Trust do?

The Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) is the leading nature conservation charity on the Isle of Man. Although we are an independent charity, we are one of the 47 Wildlife Trust’s across the British Isles. We are one of the smallest Trusts, with staff often having to wear ‘more than one hat’ and with a real need for and appreciation of all our volunteers. Despite this, we are all dedicated to our large remit of caring for land, sea and freshwater environments on the Isle of Man. We manage 21 nature reserves, covering a wide variety of habitats and using traditional conservation management measures. We have a Wildflowers of Mann project, promoting the wonderful array of native wildflowers on the island. With nearly 90% of the Isle of Man’s territory being at sea, we also work to protect our marine environment, including species like basking sharks and Risso’s dolphins which visit our waters. Key to our success is education, so visiting schools and doing public events to raise awareness is a big part of what we do. The Isle of Man may be a small place, but it is crammed full of wonderful landscapes and wildlife. Through our work, we hope that people will be able to enjoy and benefit from it for years to come.

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The Marine Conservation Society is campaigning for 127 Marine Conservation Zones – it’s essential that we achieve this minimum level of marine protection so please find out more by visiting this page, then share the link by email and on social media, and pledge your support – we only need a moment of your time.

Anyone visiting the coast has the chance to see some amazing native species – the UK, and the South West in particular, is home to sharks, jellyfish and turtles… visit the sightings surveys page

Yes. These amazing species are found in the UK! Click on this image to view all the beautiful images on the MCS site of UK wildlife near you!!

These are just two of the ways that long term volunteers support MCS – there’s no minimum time requirement, but we need you to show you care by signing up to the group – receive our monthly Sea Champions bulletin and let us know which activities interest you and suit your availability… Sea Champions – volunteering to save our seas.

For more info contact Patrick Joel at the MCS
Email: patrick.joel@mcsuk.org

More beautiful images from the MCS site follow the link on the picture to see more!

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