Marine Life Identification Course

Over the weekend of 28-30 September I went with Mark Mumford to the Mountbatten Centre in Plymouth to attend this BSAC Course. It was organised by former CRABBSAC member, Pete Messenger. Other speakers were Keith Hiscock, a marine biologist, and Harvey Tyler-Walters, an expert in marine conservation.

The purpose of the course was to learn about identification of species and their habitats and how human activities impact on the marine environment.

There were classroom lectures, illustrated by slides of numerous creatures, which really helped to explain the features of the different marine 'families', e.g. how you tell a crustacean from a mollusc.

There were also practical activities. The highlight for me was the walk we took along the shore on the Saturday morning, paddling in rock pools and collecting specimens. These we took back to the "lab" at the Mountbatten Centre for closer inspection under microscopes and to observe such things as the interaction of a starfish with limpets. In the spirit of conservation, all creatures were returned to the sea (apart from a couple of little crabs which were dinner for a baby cuttlefish that was on loan from the university).

Two boat dives had been planned but were abandoned due to the appalling weather. A brilliant alternative was a trip to the National Marine Aquarium to view a huge variety of marine life in more comfort, from the magnificent shark theatre to the miniscule newborn seahorses.

A really enjoyable and educational weekend, and I would recommend this course to any divers who want know more about the creatures they encounter underwater.


This page was last updated on : 06 Sep 2011