Community Marine Biodiversity Monitoring

Tim Merrick @ Focal Plane Photo

Living on Fair Isle, you are constantly engaged with the marine environment, whether it’s the constant background sight and sounds of the waves, wondering if the ferry that brings food and other supplies will be making the trip, walking along the cliffs, beachcombing, swimming or fishing.

For some, personal experience and family memory of fishing around the island gives a deep knowledge not just of the marine life to be found here, but of the changes over time in the abundance of different species.

Identification skills and a knowledge of where to find different animals along the shoreline are being passed on to a very engaged younger generation, but for others who have made Fair Isle their home there can be fewer opportunities to learn about marine wildlife and in particular the species to be found living beyond the shoreline.

Fair Isle Intertidal Zone Monitoring

A successful application to the Community Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Equipment Fund meant we could purchase GoPro cameras with underwater housing and a Garmin eTrex to help us set up photo stations at two locations on the rocky shoreline in the south of the island. Recording photos from a fixed location over time will enable us to create a visual record of any changes in the intertidal zone over time.

We will also be able to look at how winter storms shape these exposed pebble beaches and the effects this might have on the species living there.

Species Image Library

The cameras will also be used to build up a species image library that can be accessed by the community and researchers. Images of the species recorded around the coastline are important in informing residents and visitors of the many different coastal and marine species that make their home around Fair Isle. They can help improve identification skills and highlight which sightings may be particularly unusual or special. While some lists of species found are already kept by individual island residents this project will help bring sightings all together in one database and will make it easier for researchers working on the Fair Isle marine protected area to access information.

The aim is also to engage visitors to the island in the work of the groups involved in the MPA, to encourage them to take a closer look at the coastal wildlife during their visit and to make it easier to report sightings.

We would like to acknowledge the work of the organisations behind this Fund, including NatureScot, Fauna and Flora International and the William Grant Foundation.

Fauna and Flora International
William Grant Foundation

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