Searching the Seas for Suberites

Since the introduction of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, development works in UK inshore waters often require a marine license to be obtained from the Marine Management Organisation. In order to obtain a license it is sometimes necessary for an Environmental Impact Assessment to be carried out, especially in protected areas like those designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Poole Harbour is one such site and for works to continue along the West Quay Road area, next to the Twin Sails Lifting Bridge, an Environmental Impact Assessment had to be carried out.

Suberites massa
Image showing Suberites massa, taken by Graham Ackers

Commercial and Specialised Diving have been carrying out marine biological surveys for a number of years and were asked to assess the distribution and abundance of the marine sponge Suberites massa. Sixteen 1m2 quadrats were taken at depths of around 2-3m along a 300m length of wall and involved gathering: substrate type, number of colonies, GPS location and a SACFOR scale of abundance designation for each sample. A full written report was provided as well as the underwater video footage for the entire survey, to the client’s satisfaction.