10 Sept 2023
Welcome to our 2023 bioblitz report! The aim of the bioblitz was to record as many different plant and animal species located within St Abb's Head NNR and the Berwickshire Marine Reserve as possible, to create a snapshot of data in one day. Find out more below including the full list of observations made.
On Wednesday 9th August 2023 Berwickshire Marine Reserve and National Trust for Scotland conducted a bioblitz across St Abbs Head National Nature Reserve and the BMR Shoreline (North end of St Abbs Harbour).
Unfortunately, weather and sea conditions meant that the dive element of the bioblitz had to be cancelled but all land-based surveys went ahead as planned.
The last time a Bioblitz was carried out here was in 2018, when 298 individual species were recorded. We were hopeful of exceeding that number this year!
The day was just as much about collecting data as it was getting members of the public excited about the wildlife in this part of the world. We hosted several events over the course of the day, including a guided bird/general wildlife spotting walk, a guided bug hunt, and a rockpooling session in St Abb's Harbour, which was attended by researchers from St Abb's Marine Station. DNA sampling tests were conducted in the intertidal zone to discover a whole host of species that wouldn't have been easy to spot otherwise! As well as these events, there were also telescopes set up for a cetacean watch up by the lighthouse, a range of moth species that were caught overnight on display in the NTS Visitor Centre, plus a gazebo sheltering wildlife ID guides and books from the wind and rain. There were also activities for children to get involved with, including Bioblitz Bingo.
An app called iNaturalist was used to photograph and record the species we found, and by the end of the day we had 499 observations of 326 species. This was a brilliant result considering the weather conditions, and the day was attended by over 50 members of the public who either took part in events or integrated recording species into their plans for a walk around the nature reserve. We also had a group from renewable energy company Orsted join us on a team day out from Edinburgh, who thoroughly enjoyed their guided bird/wildlife walk.
The scheduled dives were completed on Wednesday 23rd August in more favourable conditions. Three volunteer divers joined us on board along with BMR and NTS staff members, and a visiting scientist from the Traversing European Coastlines (TREC) project.
Two sites were dived - Anemone Gullies and the Peanut Wreck Boilers and a further 26 marine species were found. Also spotted was a butterfly, which had proved elusive during the land based survey due to the wet conditions!
A full list of species observed is available below. These include marine molluscs, cnidarians, crustaceans and seaweeds, seabirds, moths, plants and grasses, mammals and insects, fungus and lichens.
The Bioblitz was a great success with a total of 352 species being recorded over the 2 days, and this project is something that we will definitely strive to repeat on a more frequent basis in the years to come. We now have a solid baseline of data that can be used to compare to future years and allow us to observe any biodiversity changes that take place across the two reserves.
Thanks to Simpsons Malt Ltd and the Simpson’s McCreath Trust for providing funding to allow us to hire a dive boat for the offshore element of the bioblitz.