A quest to beat the European Sabellaria reef size record has been launched

 

PRESS Release MAY 19th 2015 – COASTWATCH

Contact Karin Dubsky 086 8111 684 kdubsky@coastwatch.org

A ONE KILOMETER LONG HONEYCOMB WORM (Sabellaria ) REEF HAS BEEN REPORTED IN THE WATERFORD ESTUARY. VOLUNTEERS WALKED AND PHOTOGRAPHED THE REEF AT LOW TIDE AND ARE LOOKING FOR MORE.

A QUEST TO BEAT THE EUROPEAN SABELLARIA REEF SIZE RECORD HAS BEEN LAUNCHED.

A fragile reef built from sand by millions of tiny pink Sabellaria worms straddles low tide in the sunny south east of Ireland. Nobody knows how long or large it is but a recent French ascertain that their worms in the bay of St Michel near St Malo have created the largest Sabellaria reef area in Europe triggered a Coastwatch challenge.

As part of Biodiversity Days 2015 Coastwatch invites members of the public to walk the shore at low tide to check for reef outcrops and help measure the length and size of the reef. Kayakers and divers are also invited as the worms continue building into shallow water.

On May 18th the first Coastwatchers started checking the shore simultaneously around low tide from Hook Head Co Wexford to Annestown Co Waterford coast, focussing their search where previous Coastwatch survey reports had identified some honeycomb reef presence.

First Results look very encouraging’ – said Karin Dubsky Project Coordinator.

On the Wexford side, Emmet Delaney found a healthy Sabellaria reef 10- 55m wide straddling low water. He walked two 500 m survey units from Booley Bay towards Duncannon and still hadn’t reached the reef end!

On the Waterford side, Coastwatchers lead by Alan Walshe had planned a training event at Tramore Lady’s slip. Pupils of Our Lady of Mercy School Waterford and other surveyors found reef patches like big hedgehogs attached to the bed rock over a ~ 250m2 area.

Other species found by eagle eyed surveyors included chitons – the living dinosaur of our molluscs -and beautiful green snakelocks anemones with pink tentacle tips.

‘We are looking for more surveyors to give an hour and search their shore’ – said Karin. ‘This biogenic (or living) reef in turn supports many other organisms and the millions of worms filter the water. It is classed as priority habitat under EU Nature law. The French run guided tours to their reefs and with the awareness raised also help protect them from accidental damage like trampling and dredging’.

Honeycomb worm Sabellaria and co survey Bidi days 2015

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