Completed Offshore Seabed Survey

 

Since 2003 JNCC have been commissioning and collaborating on seabed habitat mapping surveys in UK offshore waters. Our past surveys include:

2015

Croker carbonate slabs ©JNCC/Cefas 2015Croker Carbonate Slabs  (2015)

This survey, conducted by JNCC and Cefas, gathered evidence to contribute to the development of a monitoring time-series for the Croker Carbonate Slabs Site of Community Importance (SCI). This will allow any changes in the condition of the methane derived authigenic carbonate (MDAC), for which the site is designated, to be accurately monitored over time. The survey specifically aimed to map the finer extent of the MDAC, characterise the wider sediment areas within the site and collect biological community data.

 

East of Gannet and Montrose Fields and Norwegian Boundary Image of a seapen Pennatula phosphorea captured using a camera sledge during 1515S ©JNCC/MSS 2015.Sediment Plain (2015)

This survey, carried out by teams from JNCC and Marine Scotland Science (MSS), represents the first monitoring survey within the East of Gannet and Montrose Fields, and Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain offshore Nature Conservation MPAs. The aim of this survey was to collect data on the features that the sites have been designated for; namely ocean quahog aggregations (and their supporting habitat) at both sites and offshore deep sea muds at East of Gannet and Montrose Fields NCMPA only. Data collected will be used to support the development of monitoring options for both of these MPAs and, more generally, for the habitats found at these sites. View the "1515S Cruise Report: Monitoring survey of East of Gannet and Montrose Fields and Norwegian Boundary Sediment Plain Scottish Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas".

 

Haig Fras and East of Haig Fras ©JNCC/Cefas 2015

Haig Fras and East of Haig Fras (2015)

In May 2015, JNCC and Cefas conducted a three week offshore survey at Haig Fras SCI and East of Haig Fras MCZ. At both sites, the overall aim was to collect data to provide evidence to support the development of monitoring options for both of these MPAs and, more generally, for the habitats and biotopes found at these sites. View the cruise report on "Baseline monitoring at Haig Fras candidate Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance and East of Haig Fras Marine Conservation Zone".

 

2014Solan Bank Reef ©JNCC/MSS 2014

Solan Bank Reef (2014)

JNCC and Marine Scotland Science (MSS) visited Solan Bank Reef SCI in November 2014 with the aim to gather evidence to inform the development of a national indicator of ‘Good Environmental Status’ as part of the UK’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Change in sponge morphological diversity is one of a suite of indicators being developed to help assess the status of shallow sub-littoral rock habitats. This survey aimed to discover the feasibility of the indicator by testing whether sponge morphological abundance can be sufficiently measured using underwater drop cameras and videos. View the cruise report for the "Solan Bank Reef SCI survey 1714S" and the "Analysis of seabed video and stills data collected by drop down camera on the Solan Bank Reef SCI" report.  

 

 Dogger Bank © JNCC/Cefas 2014                                                Dogger Bank (2014)

Dogger Bank Site of Community Importance (SCI) was designated in 2012 due to the Annex I habitat ‘Sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time’. This collaborative survey between JNCC and Cefas had an objective to collect data to assess changes in benthic communities in response to proposed fisheries closures. Data collected from this survey will also form the basis of a time-series to help identify long-term temporal patterns in benthic faunal communities across the site. Another objective of the survey was to conduct a pressure gradient study to develop a greater understanding of how the seabed communities of Dogger Bank respond to different levels of physical abrasion pressure e.g. trawling activities. View the cruise report for the "Dogger Bank SCI Monitoring Survey"

 

Swallow Sands, Farnes East and Fladen Grounds (2014)

Fladden Grounds Northern Stone Crab ©JNCC/Cefas 2014

JNCC and Cefas visited Fladen Grounds in March 2014 to collect evidence at Central Fladen Nature Conservation MPA (NCMPA) to support the development of monitoring options for this site and more generally for offshore mud habitats. This Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) survey was designed to address the effect of different management scenarios on the seabed communities and the physical seabed parameters in and around a potential MPA. Sampling was also carried out along a fishing pressure gradient to improve understanding of the effects of fishing pressure on biological communities. View the "Fladen Grounds Survey cruise report".

 

2013

North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef ©JNCC/Cefas 2013North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef (2013)

This survey focused on gathering evidence from areas of existing Annex I biogenic reef formed by Sabellaria spinulosa at North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC). It aimed to assess the presence and delineate the extent of biogenic reef and survey areas of sandbank to characterise the infaunal communities present. This was a collaborative survey between JNCC and Cefas conducted aboard the RV Cefas Endeavour. View the "North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef SCI: CEND 22/13 & 23/13 cruise report" and "North Norfolk Sandbank and Saturn Reef cSAC/SCI Management Investigation Report".

 

Pobie Bank Reef © JNCC/MSS 2013

Pobie Bank Reef (2013)

Pobie Bank Reef is located in the North Sea, approximately 20km east of Unst, Fetlar and Whalsay in Shetland. It was selected as a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) due to the presence of Annex I rocky reef. This survey was a collaborative effort between JNCC and Marine Science Scotland (MSS) that collected data relating to seabed biological communities to better characterise the distribution of seabed habitats within the site. Evidence collected during the survey was also used to facilitate fisheries management discussions with industries.

 

Monkfish, South West Deeps © JNCC/Cefas 2013

MCZ verification: South West Deeps (West) and South of the Isles of Scilly (2013)

Two offshore recommended Marine Conservation Zone (rMCZ) sites were visited during this survey: South West Deeps (West) and South of the Isles of Scilly. Primarily, this survey focused on collecting additional groundtruthing data that could be used with existing acoustic data to determine the presence and extent of broad scale habitats (BSH) and Features of Conservation Importance (FOCI). Additional side-scan and multibeam swaths were also carried out over specific areas of interest to increase the resolution of the acoustic dataset and to identify seabed features more clearly. View the "Community Analysis of Offshore MCZ Grab and Video Data" report, which includes South West Deeps. Other reports available from DEFRA upon request.

 

MCZ verification: East of Haig Fras, North St George’s Channel and Mid St George’sSmall spotted catshark, Mid St Georges Channel Monkfish, South West Deeps © JNCC/Cefas 2013 Channel (2013)

Three offshore recommended Marine Conservation Zone (rMCZ) sites were visited during this survey: East of Haig Fras, North St George’s Channel and Mid St George’s Channel. Primarily, this survey focused on collecting additional groundtruthing data that could be used alongside existing acoustic data to determine the presence and extent of broad scale habitats (BSH) and Features of Conservation Importance (FOCI). Additional side-scan and multibeam swaths were also taken over areas of interest to increase the resolution of the acoustic dataset and to identify seabed features more clearly. View the "Community Analysis of Offshore MCZ Grab and Video Data" report, which includes East of Haig Fras. Other reports available from DEFRA upon request.

 

Red Gurnard, Wight-Barfleur Bassurelle © JNCC/Cefas 2013 Wight-Barfleur Reef and Bassurelle Sandbank (2013)

This offshore seabed survey visited Wight-Barfleur Reef and Bassurelle Sandbank, both of which are candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC). At Wight Barfleur Reef, the aim was to collect additional seabed data to assist with the development of management advice and better outline the extent of Annex I reef. At Bassurelle Sandbank, the survey team collected evidence to increase knowledge of the distribution and heterogeneity of benthic habitats and communities present across the sandbank. This was a collaborative survey between JNCC and Cefas conducted on the RV Cefas Endeavour.

 

Fladen Grounds (2013)Fladen Grounds, squid © JNCC/Cefas 2013

This survey aimed to gather high quality evidence to confirm the presence of the ‘burrowed mud’ Priority Marine Features (PMF) component ‘seapens and burrowing megafauna’ within three proposed Nature Conservation MPAs (pNCMPA) within Fladen Grounds in the Northern North Sea. The sampling strategy was designed to allow for statistical comparison of benthic assemblages between sites. Additional data were also gathered from outside the MPA proposal sites to help build a bigger picture of the biodiversity of the surrounding area. This was a collaborative survey between JNCC and Cefas.

 

2012

Plumose anemone, Turbot Bank © JNCC/Cefas 2012Braemar Pockmarks, Scanner Pockmark and Turbot Bank (2012)

CEND19x/12 was a collaborative survey between JNCC and Cefas conducted aboard the RV Cefas Endeavour.  It aimed to gather evidence on the Annex I habitat ‘submarine structures made by leaking gases’ at Braemar Pockmarks and Scanner Pockmark candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC). It also visited Turbot Bank Nature Conservation MPA proposal (pNCMPA) to collect acoustic and groundtruthing data. This was to gather evidence to help determine the presence and evaluate the condition of the ‘sandeels’ Priority Marine Feature (PMF) at this site, through assessing the sand habitats with which this species is closely associated. View the geological investigation reports for the Braemar Pockmarks SCI and Scanner Pockmark.

 

Wyville Thomson Ridge and Faroe Shetland Sponge Belt Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt ©JNCC/MSS 2012

Wyville Thompson Ridge and Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt (2012)

This was a collaborative survey between JNCC and Marine Scotland Science (MSS) that aimed to obtain evidence to facilitate fisheries management discussions for Wyville Thomson Ridge candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC/SCI) and to develop methods for future Marine Protected Sites monitoring. The survey also sought to improve the understanding of the presence and extent of deep-sea sponge aggregations within the Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt Nature Conservation MPA proposal. View the report on "Analysis of video and still images to characterise habitats and macrobenthos of the Wyville Thomson Ridge SCI and Faroe-Shetland Sponge Belt Scottish Nature Conservation MPA Proposal".

 

Stanton Banks © JNCC/Cefas/BGS 2012

Stanton Banks (2012)

This survey aimed to gather evidence to determine the presence and extent of the qualifying Annex I reef feature (including ‘stony’ and ‘bedrock’ reef subtypes), and to characterise the surrounding seabed within the Stanton Banks candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC/SCI) boundary. The survey was a collaborative effort by JNCC, Cefas and the British Geological Society (BGS), and was conducted aboard the NLV Pole Star.

 

 

MCZ verification: Greater Haig Fras, North West of Jones Bank, South of the Isles of Scilly rMCZs and the Haig Fras SCI.

The final MCZ site verification survey collected data from Greater Haig Fras, North West of Jones Bank and South of the Isles of Scilly recommended MCZs (rMCZs) and was tasked with improving the evidence base for these rMCZs through the collection of data on the presence and extent of the broadscale habitats and habitat features of conservation importance (FOCI) that each site had been proposed for. This cruise also collected data within an existing designated marine protected area - the Haig Fras Site of Community Importance (SCI). The survey was carried out in collaboration with Cefas. View the report on "Mapping of the Haig Fras Site of Community Importance (SCI)". Other reports are available from DEFRA upon request.

Thornback ray © JNCC/Cefas 2012

 

MCZ verification: Fulmar, Markhams Triangle, Holderness Offshore, Swallow Sand, Offshore Brighton and Offshore Overfalls

The purpose of this suite of MCZ site verification surveys was to improve the evidence base for Markham’s Triangle, Fulmar, Swallow Sand, Holderness Offshore, Offshore Brighton and Offshore Overfalls recommended MCZs (rMCZ) by collecting data on the presence and extent of the broadscale habitats and habitat features of conservation importance (FOCI) that each site had been proposed for.  Survey data were collected jointly by Cefas and JNCC personnel onboard the RV Cefas Endeavour. View the "Community Analysis of Offshore MCZ Grab and Video Data" report, which includes Swallow Sand. Other reports available from DEFRA upon request.

 

MCZ verification: Farnes East, Compass Rose and Rock Unique © JNCC/Cefas 2012 MCZ verification: Compass Rose, Farnes East and Rock Unique

This suite of MCZ site verification surveys focussed on Compass Rose, Rock Unique and Farnes East recommended MCZs (rMCZ) in the North Sea. The purpose of these surveys was to improve the evidence base for the rMCZs by collecting data on the presence and extent of the broadscale habitats and habitat features of conservation importance (FOCI) that each site had been proposed for.  Survey data were collected jointly by Cefas and JNCC personnel onboard the RV Cefas Endeavour. View the "Community Analysis of Offshore MCZ Grab and Video Data" report, which includes Rock Unique (now known as North East of Farnes Deep). Other reports available from DEFRA upon request.

 

MCZ verification: East of Celtic Deep, East of Haig Fras, North of MCZ verification: Wight-Barfleur Extension © JNCC/Cefas 2012Celtic Deep, North St George’s Channel, South of Celtic Deep, Western Channel, Offshore Brighton, South-east Falmouth and Wight-Barfleur Extension (2012)

The purpose of this suite of site verification surveys was to improve the evidence base for several recommended MCZs (rMCZ) by collecting data on the presence and extent of the broadscale habitats and habitat features of conservation importance (FOCI) that each site had been proposed for.  Survey data were collected jointly by Cefas and JNCC personnel onboard the RV Cefas Endeavour. View the "Community Analysis of Offshore MCZ Grab and Video Data" report, which includes East of Haig Fras. Other reports available from DEFRA upon request.

 

Octopus at Hebrides Terrace Seamount during JC073 2012 © HWU/JNCC Hebrides Terrace Seamount (2012)

This survey set out to study the functional ecology of cold-water coral habitats at contrasting sites in the North Atlantic, West of Scotland and Ireland. It included collaboration with representatives from Denmark, Germany, Spain and the USA, with Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) surveys of the Hebrides Terrace Seamount carried out on the behalf of JNCC with the agreement of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). View the report on "Analysis of seabed imagery from the Hebrides Terrace Seamount"

 

2011Dead Mens Fingers, Outer Firth of Forth 2011 © JNCC/Marine Scotland Science/Cefas/NLB

Outer Firth of Forth (2011)

This survey was part of the wider Scottish MPA project and was a collaborative effort by JNCC, the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) and Cefas. It focused on delivering evidence to underpin the identification of Scottish MPA search features. Benthic sample data and seabed imagery from the Firth of Forth Banks complex were collected on sand and gravel biotopes across the bank, and across the area identified as being an important habitat for sandeels. View the report on "Analysis of seabed imagery from the 2011 survey of the Firth of Forth Banks Complex, the 2011 IBTS Q4 survey and additional deep-water sites from Marine Scotland Science surveys"

 

North of Rona and Windsock, 1111S © JNCC, 2011North of Rona and Windsock (2011)

This survey was a collaborative effort between JNCC and Marine Scotland Science that gathered high quality acoustic data and associated groundtruthing data from North of Rona and the Windsock fisheries closure area to verify the presence and potential extent of Priority Marine Features (PMFs) including: ‘offshore deep sea muds’, ‘offshore subtidal sands and gravels’ and ‘burrowed mud’. View the seabed imagery analysis report and the biotope assignment of grab samples report.

 

Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge, and Haisborough, Common sunstar image taken during CEND1111 © JNCC/Cefas/Natural EnglandHammond and Winterton (2011)

This survey was a collaborative effort between JNCC, Cefas and Natural England and took place at two locations: Haisborough, Hammond and Winterton candidate Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance (cSAC/SCI) and Inner Dowsing, Race Bank and North Ridge cSAC. It aimed to identify the location, extent and condition of Annex I sandbanks and biogenic features at these two sites by collecting acoustic data and associated groundtruthing data. Data collected on the survey is also intended to contribute to the long term monitoring of Annex I features, taking account of current and potential future pressures affecting these sites. 

 

Darwin Mounds and NW Rockall (2011)

The JC060 cruise was the first dedicated, deep-water habitat-mapping cruise of the MAREMAP initiative (UK Marine Environmental Mapping Programme), a collaboration of multiple organisations including JNCC, Plymouth University and the National Oceanography Centre. The main aim of the cruise was to collect evidence to carry out habitat mapping activities in selected areas of Rockall Trough, Rockall Basin and Hatton Basin to assess the status of different benthic habitats in relation to human activities, especially deep-sea bottom trawling. The survey provided additional evidence for live cold-water coral and coral rubble on the northern flanks of Rockall Bank. View the report on "Analysis of biological data from the JC060 survey of areas of conservation interest in deep waters off north and west Scotland"

 

Haig Fras 2011, CEND0211 © JNCC/CefasHaig Fras (2011)

This survey of Haig Fras candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC/SCI) was a collaborative effort between JNCC and Cefas. Haig Fras is an isolated, submarine bedrock outcrop located in the Celtic Sea supporting a wide range of species including Devonshire cup corals, jewel anemones and encrusting sponges. The aim of the survey was to collect full-coverage multibeam backscatter data and associated groundtruthing data to better map the Annex I reef found at the site. View the report on "Mapping of the Haig Fras Site of Community Importance (SCI)".

 

2010

Fladden Grounds (2010)Northern North Sea (2010)

This collaborative survey, carried out between Marine Scotland Science and JNCC, was conducted to improve our knowledge of the distribution of species in the northern North Sea with a view to improving our information-base behind the selection of Nature Conservation MPAs in the seas around Scotland.
 

2009

Gorgonians, Lophelia pertusa and sponges © JNCC

Anton Dohrn and East Rockall Bank (2009)

This survey was carried out on behalf of JNCC by the British Geological Survey (BGS), University of Plymouth and Marin Mättenik AB. It aimed to gather high quality acoustic and photographic groundtruthing data to describe the distribution, extent and biological communities of Annex I reef at Anton Dohrn and East Rockall Bank. Following the survey, both sites were put forward as candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC).
 
 

2008

Solan Bank © JNCC

Submarine structures in the mid-Irish Sea and Solan Bank (2008)

Methane-derived authigenic carbonate (MDAC) is formed when methane is released from a cold seep on the seabed and reacts with the surrounding seawater to create carbonate rock formations. This survey aimed to map the extent and condition of an area of MDAC reef-like structures in the mid-Irish Sea. It also investigated the extent and condition of bedrock and stony reef around Solan Bank located approximately 50km from the north west coast of Scotland. View the report on "Understanding the marine environment – seabed habitat investigations of submarine structures in the mid Irish Sea and Solan Bank Area of Search (AoS)".
 
Dogger Bank © JNCC

Dogger Bank (2008)

This survey visited Dogger Bank in the North Sea, the largest sandbank in UK waters. The aim was to gather data to delineate the boundary of this potential candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) and to characterise the biological communities present on the seabed. View the report on "Understanding the marine environment - seabed habitat investigations of the Dogger Bank offshore draft SAC".  
 
 

2007

Rockall Bank © FRS

Rockall Bank (2005-2007)

These surveys were carried out in collaboration with Fisheries Research Services, Aberdeen and the University of Plymouth.  The objectives of these surveys were to: identify and map the range of seabed habitats present on the Rockall Bank seamount; identify areas of Annex I bedrock and stony reef; and to further develop the deep-water sections of the EUNIS habitat classification system.

South-West Approaches © MESH

South-West Approaches (2007)

This survey was undertaken as part of the MESH project to map the deep sea habitats of the submarine canyons in the South West Approaches.  This was a collaborative project involving Defra, JNCC, the Marine Institute (Republic of Ireland), the British Geological Survey and the University of Plymouth.  The objectives of this cruise were: to collect high resolution acoustic data and camera imagery; identify and map the extent of Annex I reef habitat; and to trial the application of the MESH Guidance Framework, from survey conception and planning through to reporting.

 

Mid Irish Sea Reefs © JNCC

Mid-Irish Sea Reefs (2007)

The survey was carried out on behalf of JNCC by ERT (Scotland) Ltd.  The aim was to map an area of potential Annex I stony reef in the mid-Irish Sea and to characterise the biological communities present on the seabed. View the "Mid Irish Sea reefs habitat mapping report". 

 

North West Irish Sea Mounds © AFBI

North-West Irish Sea Mounds (2003, 2006, 2007)

The North-West Irish Sea Mounds are a group of bedrock outcrops between Northern Ireland and Scotland. This survey was carried out in collaboration with Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queens University Belfast, with the aim to map the extent of Annex I bedrock reef and to characterise the biological communities present on the seabed. View the report from this survey on "Broadscale Subtidal Biotope Mapping to the West of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK"

 

2006

Central English Channel © Cefas

The Eastern English Channel (2005-2006)

JNCC was a collaborative partner on this survey, working with Cefas, the British Geological Survey and Marine Ecological Surveys Ltd.  The aim of the project was to produce regional habitat maps to support management of planned exploitation of large marine aggregate resources in this area and to identify areas of Annex I bedrock and/or stony reef. This survey was funded by the Marine Environment Protection Fund. 

 

2005

Wyville Thomson Ridge © Crown Copyright

SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) surveys off North Scotland (2005)

The SEA surveys were a series of surveys commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department for Energy and Climate Change), the data from which is used in the planning of offshore developments. As a result of the data gathered from these surveys, JNCC has recommended Wyville Thompson Ridge, North-West Rockall and Hatton Bank as candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC).
 
Sandbank East of Isle of Man © AFBI

Sandbank to the east of the Isle of Man (2004-2006)

These surveys were run in collaboration with Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queens University, Belfast. The aim of the project was to map the extent of a possible Annex 1 sandbank in UK offshore waters east of the Isle of Man, and to characterise the biological communities present on the seabed. View the report, "Broadscale seabed habitat survey of a sandbank to the east of the Isle of Man".

 

North-West Anglesey © JNCC

North-West Anglesey (2005)

This survey was run in collaboration with the Countryside Council for Wales (now known as Natural Resources Wales), the National Museum of Wales and the University College Cork with funding from the Mapping European Seabed Habitats (MESH) project.  The aim of the survey was to map the extent of potential Annex I reef in four areas off north west Anglesey and to characterise the biological communities present on the seabed. View the report on "Broad-scale biotope mapping of potential reefs in the Irish Sea (north-west of Anglesey)"

 

2004

South West Barra © AFBI

West Hebrides (2004)

This survey was run in collaboration with Scottish Natural Heritage, Queens University Belfast and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland. The aim of the project was to investigate six areas to the west and south west of the Outer Hebrides. Specifically, it aimed to map the seabed habitats and characterise the biological communities present on the seabed.

 

2003

Stanton Banks © AFBIBlackstones and Stanton Banks (2003-2006)

These surveys were run in collaboration with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queens University, Belfast.  The aim of these surveys was to map the extent of Annex I bedrock reef in two areas to the north and east of Northern Ireland, and to characterise the biological communities present on the seabed. View the "Blackstone Bank and Stanton Banks Habitat Mapping report".

North-West Anglesey © JNCC/CCW

Irish Sea Pilot Project (2003)

This survey was a collaboration between JNCC and the Countryside Council for Wales (now known as Natural Resources Wales), undertaken as part of the Review of Marine Nature Conservation Irish Sea Pilot.  The aim was to gather additional evidence to test the validity of the marine landscapes developed under the Irish Sea pilot.