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One of the elements of this project that we are most excited about is the opportunity to contribute to a range of established research programmes both on a national level but also regionally and locally with existing research institutions and NGO's. We are passionate about marine conservation and one of our goals is to ensure that these trips contribute to the conservation of the Celtic Deep and its wildlife.
First port of call was to speak with the UK Blue Shark Project and they are very keen for us to assist them with their research. One of the biggest obstacles for their studies is finding opportunities to get out to the sharks. We are going to help with that and initially I am pleased to say that founder Dr Andrea Gaion will be taking that spot himself. Andrea has described his research below:
Our project aims to provide a starting point for a multi-year research programme intended to set up a photo-identification database, to study genetics of populations and bioaccumulation of the most common pollutants and their biological effects on living blue sharks (Prionace glauca). We started this project 2 years ago, and thanks to the experience we developed, we managed to confirm the presence of blue sharks in UK waters and to start the photo-identification database. Unfortunately we couldn’t collect any skin biopsy due to the inefficacy of our sampling tips, but that is part of science. After an exchange of information with scientists working in the Pacific, we developed brand new tips that will be put to the test as soon as possible. Thanks to these tips, a small sample of skin (1.5cm x 0.7cm) will be taken from sharks swimming in the ocean, no fishing hook or restraining technique will be used hence the stress to the animal will be minimal. Blue sharks are present all around the western continental shelf of the United Kingdom, so we are planning to rely on different research teams in Wales, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to gather as many information as possible on the North Atlantic population. The samples will be then appropriately divided and dispatched to different research groups to conduct the relative analyses. The expected results will be fundamental to increase our knowledge on this species, already listed as “critically endangered” in the Mediterranean and to feed into assessments for better species protection in the North Atlantic. You can read more about the UK Blue Shark Project here.
All cetacean sightings will be sent to bolster the baseline data sets managed by local NGO the Sea Trust. The Sea Trust do fantastic outreach work in Pembrokeshire and its' a pleasure to be partnered with such a dedicated and passionate group. In addition to this we will also submit sightings to the national level Sea Watch Foundation.
Celtic Deep Expeditions is very proud to have partnered up with Swansea University and SEACAMS to provide a platform for a PhD project that will hopefully help to protect cetaceans from future marine renewable energy developments in this area. We're also open to approaches from students emabarking on their own studies. Get in touch!
Atlantic bluefin tuna, the largest of the tuna species are without doubt one of the most magnificent visitors to UK waters. Sightings have become more common over the last 5 years and THUNNUS UK has launched a citizen science project to record these sightings in order to learn more about this iconic yet threatened species. They have told us that they are particularly interested in Celtic Deep sightings and we'll be submitting all of our blue fin encounters via their website. Here's what they have to say about their project:
Atlantic bluefin tuna were once a common sight in UK waters. In the last five years, they have been frequently reported during the late summer, autumn and winter when they have once again begun to move into coastal areas of the UK to feed on forage fish, such as sprats and herring. Whilst their return to our coastal waters is incredibly exciting, we know very little about these magnificent animals. To learn more about bluefin tuna in our coastal waters, the “Thunnus UK” project, with funding from the European Union and Defra, will undertake a 2-year programme of research to provide a baseline understanding of the ecology and distribution of these fish around the UK.
The project has three aims:
1. Collate information on the presence and abundance of Atlantic bluefin tuna in UK waters
2. Conduct a tagging programme with state of the art electronic tags
3. Provide information and advice to stakeholders.
THUNNUS UK is a collaborative research project between The University of Exeter, The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Tuna Research and Conservation Centre of Stanford University, USA and aims to provide a baseline understanding of the ecology of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in waters of the British Isles. The project is supported by the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).