Marine biologists at Falmouth Marine School have been conducting a week of surveys on the shore line around Cornwall. The groups of students have been looking at the ‘benthic environment’, described as the bottom of the sea floor, which incorporates the intertidal exposed zones of the coast as well.
Marine Science Course Manager, Craig Baldwin said: “Survey week is in its fourth year with the field work taking place in some of the best locations in Cornwall. This annual research event involves all the marine biologists at Falmouth Marine School, mixing degree and further education students together on a variety of multilevel objectives.”
As part of the event students found themselves working on a selection of traditional scientific practices in the field. From measuring the morphology and characteristics of the beaches and cliffs, to assessing the diversity of organisms in the rock pools; as well as looking at changes in the distribution of species along the rocky shore before going to round up their work with a series of related experiments in the laboratories back at the Marine School. There, students found themselves studying in detail organisms that they had never heard of or seen before by using a range of scientific equipment and techniques to achieve detailed technical goals to complement the field work.
Degree level student, Jonas Clay, commented: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain field and laboratory experience, critical skills in a good degree. It’s also a good insight into what I might be doing in the future”
The Benthic Survey Week is one of two of these types of events the students at Falmouth Marine School carry out. The second, ‘Pelagic Survey Week’, is focused on the open water where again the students will be out along the coast and on the water collecting samples and data to profile open water species and oceanographic features.
Marine Biology & Ecology Program Manager, Luke Marsh, commented: “It’s a perfect learning experience, using the outside classroom that hosts a huge range of ecosystems; there really is no better place to study marine Science in the UK.”
The second survey week will take place at the end of the academic year. The Marine School is looking to continue building its collection of the data for both of these large scale annual surveys, some of which will be used towards academic literature in the future.