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Studland Seahorse Project Bank Holiday Bonanza

September 9, 2013

Bank holiday weekend proved to be one of mixed fortunes, a breezy Sunday morning meant that kayaking was tricky, Lynn and I battled through the testing currents to get our questionnaires filled out by the few that braved their windswept decks. After a couple of hours and with every boat visited, we decided to move on to the beach to promote some of this wonderful marine life we have at Studland.

Despite the wind, it was a fine day, and people were crammed on to South Beach. The tent went up with aplomb but the wind soon had us scrambling for nearby rocks to steady the would-be deserter. Moving to the beach turned out to be a wise move as the lack of boats became increasingly obvious as the day wore on. We were also getting attention from the beach-dwellers, and it was great to see people marvel at the long-dead seahorse and pipefish specimens we had to hand. Although at one stage, I had to wince as one youngster decided to test the malleability of the specimens, luckily, they survived. We quickly decided to set an age limit for the holding of the creatures. It was good to talk to people about the species we find at Studland and lots of people took a general interest in what we were doing and even thanked us for our efforts. Plenty of informative leaflets were taken and lots of budding conservationists took to the rock pools with their newly attained ray egg casing guides.

When you combine great weather with a public holiday, you get what we witnessed on the 26th August. The bay was inundated with boaters, there were over 100! It meant that Lynn and I had a busy day on the kayak. We managed to get in excess of 40 questionnaires filled out. We also received our first uncouth refusal. As we approached, we delivered our usual spiel. Once the chap in question realised who we were representing, he spat “you’re doing more harm than good, now go away, please!” I thought the please was a nice addition, so biting our tongues, we left. This sort of reaction is very rare and we have found that throughout our time kayaking the waters of Studland, and visiting the marinas and quays of Dorset, 99% of boaters are very friendly and understanding people.

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Bank holiday Monday was busy

The following Tuesday turned out to be another difficult day, but for different reasons. It seemed that the Dorset boating population were hiding, or hungover, or lost. We tried 4 different marinas and yacht clubs with little success, the day ended with just a paltry 6 questionnaires filled out. Not a great return for the miles traveled I’m afraid to say. 

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Darren, armed with questionnaires, at Redclyffe Yacht Club.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. David Gray permalink
    October 6, 2013 9:23 am

    It would be more to the point if the ‘seahorses in Studland Bay’ controversy was given more legitimacy by broadening the survey to the whole of Poole Harbour.

    It is common knowledge amongst fishermen that the species is frequently seen in scallop nets and oyster beds within Poole Harbour, yet this is an area that suffers far worse damage to the sea bed from scallop dredging, oyster harvesting and associated practices, than Studland Bay does from the use of anchors by leisure vessels.

    One could be forgiven for concluding that the omission of the commercial fishing grounds within Poole Harbour from the controversy might be due to the fear of upsetting the local fishing community, whose political clout with the Harbour Commission is probably greater than that of the leisure boaters.

    If there is to be a more rational (from both sides) discussion on the need to create a balanced approach to the environmental needs of our local seahorse/pipefish populations, it will be better served by a wider survey of the whole of Poole Harbour-with all its political implications- rather than attacking the ‘soft option’ of leisure boaters in Studland Bay. Studland Bay is not a widely-exploited commercial fishing ground.

    The report of the Science and Technology Committee (prepared Sept 2012/ printed April 2013) gives a balanced view on the matter and its recommendations vis-a-vis NE should be noted. http://tinyurl.com/omzo8ae

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