Project Seagrass

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Scotland threw it all at us, and I think for the most, we enjoyed every part! After 13 hours on the road, we turned off to Heaste, the village we were staying in on the Isle of Skye. We headed off down a single-track lane, full of blind corners and summits, with the snow coming in thick and fast, arriving at an old house on the water’s edge. With an electricity meter that needed pound coins feeding in to it and an ancient coal fire, there was a moment of what have we let ourselves in for, but Skye quickly showed us why, swapping the snow storm for bright blue skies and snow covered mountains.

Looking across Loch Eishort from our accommodation.

The wildlife was incredible, with seals and otters popping up left, right and centre, along with stags and golden and white tipped sea eagles. Peering out of the kayaks into the seagrass meadows reflected the on top abundance but with sea hares and all kinds of crabs and starfish.

A sea hare in the meadow.

Each day and site bought new challenges. The winds picking up made it difficult to see deep enough into the water to check for seagrass, but we used a piece of equipment called a bathyscope, which stops the ripples and the water surface glare making it easier to see into the water. Spending a couple of days on the kayaks searching around Loch Eishort we managed to find three new healthy seagrass beds!

On days when the weather was flipping between hail and sunshine we walked beaches looking for any strands that had been washed up to give an idea of whether there maybe any beds close by. Any sites and wash ups found had their photo taken and uploaded to the Seagrass Spotter app to add to a growing map of meadow locations. We were also putting baited cameras out in the seagrass and were rewarded with some lovely shots of big dabs, pollock and even the shadow of a seal going past.

A bathyscope (orange cone) and a baited remote underwater video station.

Skye is an incredible place. Each way you look and corner you turn is a new breath taking view. It catches your imagination and sweeps you up in it’s magic, which was reflected in the passion of the locals. South Skye Seas Initiative shared so much valuable local knowledge with us and were generous with their offers of help to which we are very grateful.

There was also a family element to this trip, calling on my dad and cousin for man power, and despite neither of them having a marine back ground they both took to it without complaint – taking hail stones to the face and getting soaked in 8◦C water is a big ask for our little seagrass, so a huge thank you to them.

The whole family in the water to put out some baited cameras.

After such a successful trip I can’t wait to get back out searching for seagrass!