Hello, happy new year! It’s been a busy start to the year with plenty of exciting tasks going on. The usual monthly sampling of algal mats has continued and we have seen a great reduction in algal mats. The short days and low temperatures have caused a large ‘die off’ of algae, leaving the mudflats with a brown mushy layer of smelly hydrogen sulphide, yum! We are expecting to see a change in the benthic community, being both mid-winter and the die off of the algae. We can’t wait for the results to come in!

Over the past month and a half we have been writing our application to the Marine Management Organisation for approval of our mechanical (using a floating boat) removal of algal mats! The plan is to remove an area of 400m2 of algae, that’s around one and a half tennis courts. We will do this to assess the removal strategy to help advise the government on future large scale plans, while also assessing the effects on local wildlife.

The hypothesis is that the cleared areas of algae should see greater bird activity because of the reduced feeding effort for the birds, just the way a healthy mudflat should be! We plan to do this in July so stick around if you’d like to hear more.

What about all those histology samples (study of microanatomy of cells tissues) you’ve collected from the oysters I hear? After lots of complications, 13 modules of a training course and an exam, Zoe passed her Dangerous Goods course which means we could finally package up all the samples.  We have finally  sent 900 samples to the Université de Caen Normandie (UCN) for molecular analysis of our oysters’ gonad tissues. We can’t wait for the results!

That is all we have for you.. for now! However, we’re aiming to ramp up these updates to keep you all in the loop. Have a lovely week.