Christmas is a great time to celebrate the end of a successful year and here in the southwest... we certainly made the most of it!
We celebrated 2017 by asking a variety of our volunteers, both long-term and newly registered, to present their experiences as CoCoast volunteers... and we were certainly in for a treat!
To kick off the evening, CoCoast intern Bethan Follis (on her placement year from Plymouth University) discussed the variety of field and lab projects she has assisted with; from learning how to conduct quadrat surveys, measuring Sargassum Muticum (Japanese Wireweed) and kelp species in the field, dissecting topshells to examine their reproductive status in a special investigation, to identifying invertebrates that have been using invasive wireweed as a habitat/grazing opportunity.
We were then treated to a talk by recent addition to the CoCoast volunteer team, Dr Colin Munn, who retired this year from Plymouth University where he conducted research and taught as an Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in MicroBiology. Colin was only recently trained with CoCoast to conduct quadrat surveying in the field, which he admitted has been an amusing talking point for his recent colleagues, since he repeatedly avoided taking part in rocky shore work during his career! Thankfully, he seems to be thoroughly enjoying his experiences so far and even dedicated much time to helping us with our recent #Spermwatch campaign!
Up third was long-term volunteer Michael Puleston, who gave us a hugely insightful talk on one of his favourite surveying sites; Sprey Point near Teignmouth. Mike is quite smitten with the little treasures that you find amongst rock pools and under overhangs on the rocky shore, especially his barnacles! We were very impressed to see some beautiful location photography that undoubtedly has enticed us to pay a visit to this remarkable site with both natural and artificial habitats to explore.
Finally, we were treated a presentation by 2nd year Plymouth University Marine Biology & Coastal Ecology student Alys Perry, who has been a volunteer with CoCoast for nearly a year and a half. Alys has mainly been involved with our special investigative projects, including much of the Sargassum muticum studies in the field both in the southwest and on a field trip to North Wales, also becoming more heavily involved in lab work in recent weeks.
We were and still are incredibly thankful to all the volunteers to gave up their time to put together their outstanding presentations for the benefit of other volunteers - it was fantastic to demonstrate the variety of ways that volunteers can and do get involved with the CoCoast project!
Last but not least, Hannah Wilson, the newest member of the CoCoast team having joined in October, gave an update to all volunteers (in a gingerbread man onesie I hasten to add) on the progress of the CoCoast project so far. It was fantastic to see how many volunteers around the UK have been contributing to the final quadrat survey dataset, with some species packages more popular than others... especially in some areas of the country!
After all the presentations, we were delighted to present our volunteer speakers with little Christmas gifts for their contributions, and also announced our photography competition winners... congratulations again to Barry Pettifor, Michael Puleston and Luka Wright!
CoCoast volunteer and MRes Marine Biology student Jennifer has a Plymouth University blog and will soon have a written summary about the evening here: http://www.mylifewithplym.com/jennifers-blog