The assessment of the ecological status of many sub-tidal habitats can be undertaken using a combination of grab sampling and remote sensing techniques. However, some habitats such as sub-tidal rocky areas and ecologically sensitive areas (such as seagrass beds) do not lend themselves well to this approach. This often results in a lack of data (or poor quality data e.g. from drop down videos) in ecological assessments of these environments which are often more sensitive than soft sediments to some perturbations (e.g. siltation). To obtain good quality data, it is often necessary to survey these areas using divers.
Ecospan Environmental Ltd is a registered diving contractor and undertakes all diving surveys according to the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) for Scientific Diving. All divers are trained to HSE part IV or equivalent and are suitably scientifically trained for the task being undertaken (usually experienced graduate marine biologists). All diving takes place using positive pressure masks (to minimise the potential risks of diving in contaminated water) and two way voice communication. It has been found that the ability of the divers to communicate to the surface support team greatly improves the quality of the data gathered as well as enabling the location of any noteworthy observations to be accurately pinpointed using dGPS.
- Underwater stills and video surveys.
- Sediment core collection.
- Ecological surveys and ecological reconnaissance.
- Biotope mapping of sub-tidal rocky areas.
- Seagrass bed surveys.
- Macroalgae surveys.
- Fisheries surveys (e.g. scallops).
- Species abundance surveys (e.g. Sea Fans, Ross coral etc).
- Biota collection.
- Impact assessments (marine protected areas, fishing, development, dredging, effluents).
- Artificial substrate experiments.
- Installation of scientific equipment.
- Wide area visual assessments.