Thursday, 20 June 2013


We're a week and a bit past construction of the artificial rock pools. At this point it falls to me to check them periodically to ensure that they will hold water and not let it slowly seep away; it's something that we haven't confirmed yet because the high tides have been too low ( between 4.1m and 4.6m ) to cover the upper rock pools yet. However, there are high tides of up to 5.5 metres expected over the next few days which should cover them.

In the meantime, my time has been spent researching papers and articles to do with ecological engineering and trying to learn the scientific names of anything I find. This latter part is important since one person's Dog whelk is another person's Atlantic dogwinkle; scientists tend to use scientific names of latin or greek since these are fixed for any given organism.

For instance, what would you call this endearing Galway bay resident if you found it? If you think you know what it is or have a name suggestion why not drop me a comment.
With the first full survey of the concrete rock pools not due until one month after completion I made a start on the biodiversity survey of the Galway bay area.

Since it is part of an experiment to compare similar artificial and natural surfaces, the initial survey involves finding relatively flat and homogenous ( ie. no cracks or hollows ) rocks that are either part of a manmade structure or occur as a natural rock formation.

Once a suitable site is found it is surveyed using very high tech equipment indeed.......not!
High tech surveying kit :-)

Using a 25cm x 25cm quadrat placed on a suitable rock I determine the percentage of the area inside the quadrat which is covered by such organisms as barnacles, brown and green seaweeds or algae or bare rock along with the number of limpets, dog whelks or periwinkles and the like. At each site, which fixed by checking its GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates, 10 quadrats are surveyed to ensure a proper mix of data.

In essence, the information or data that is obtained in the survey must come from a certain type of location that we can compare with the concrete coastal defences whilst at the same time it must be as random as possible and include replication so as to ensure an even mix of information and avoid any form of bias. Easier said than done!

So, if you're walking along the prom at low tide and you see a couple of people off near the waters edge staring intently at some rocks that have been laid in a straight line out into the bay perpendicular to the prom, that's me plus one of the crew surveying an artificial habitat. If we're in amongst randomly placed boulders then it's a natural habitat survey.

Feel free to wave, we will wave back!

Our crew