Fuelled by bacon rolls and steaming hot coffee Andy, Zoe and Eric from the RaNTrans team based at the University of Portsmouth departed the Camber Dock bound for Bembridge Harbour, Isle of Wight. It was a pretty early start, we had to check in for departure at 5:30 am!
The mission brief: armed with identification sheets, search out areas with ideal conditions for kelp, identify the target species Saccharina latissima (or sugar kelp by its common name) and select fronds with dark sporulation areas along the stipe, known as a sorus. These dark areas mean the fronds are fertile and ready to release spores into the water, which is exactly what is required for the first stage of an upcoming new RaNTrans experiment. We are aiming to quantify nitrogen uptake rates in order to determine how effective sugar kelp would be as a nutrient bioremediation tool this species of macro-algae on long lines in coastal areas.
To achieve this the RaNTrans team is working with the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. This is where the sorus samples collected from the Solent are integrated into long lines for culture on the University of Portsmouth research raft in Langstone Harbour. The whole trip was a great opportunity to get out and work in the wider Solent area with lots of passers-by and dog walkers very keen to hear more about the RaNTrans research; even if we didn’t find any sugar kelp on this occasion!