Falmouth can boast a healthy marine ecosystem, according to the latest research by students studying in the Cornish town.
Marine Biology Students from Falmouth Marine School have spent a week conducting boat- and land-based surveys on the Cornish coastline, primarily focussing on the volume of plankton in our shores.
Plankton consist of microscopic plants and animals, and consist of the early life stages of much larger organisms, such as fish eggs and larvae.
Marine Science student Rhea Walters said: “We collected plankton from the mouth of the Estuary and compared it with samples taken further downstream, looking at the influence rivers and tidal flushing has on them.”
“Falmouth is not known for having a massive tidal impact, so there was more at the mouth of the estuary, which was expected, but we found 15 thousand in one sample, further downstream which bods really well.”
Plankton is the basis for all life in the sea, they are the main food source and they produce more oxygen than the rain forest.
Luke Marsh, programme manager for Marine Biology & Ecology, commented: “The students’ findings identified that the sea is highly dominated by plankton, with high volumes in the narrow parts of the River Fal estuary. Having large numbers in those areas shows a really heathy marine ecosystem.
“Understanding these trends and differences in them can tell us a lot about the changes happening in the wider ocean environment – and great for our students to engage in off-shore sampling using sophisticated sampling techniques.”
The research was interrupted by the sight of a porpoise coming into feed in the area. Rhea Walters continued: “The best part of studying marine biology in Falmouth is the abundance of marine life on the doorstep. We all stopped what we were doing when we spotted the porpoise. Even though I have seen them many times before in Falmouth, it’s always a beautiful sight. When I talk to friends on similar courses they don’t get half the opportunities to see so much marine life and gain these practical skills of conducting the field research themselves.”
The annual research event involves all students studying marine biology, mixing degree-level and further education-level together ensuring that they are equipped to work off-shore on ecological surveys.