JNCC Offshore Survey Blog

As part of our statutory responsibility to recommend Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in UK offshore waters (beyond 12 nautical miles), JNCC gathers information to help support these recommendations; either by searching and retrieving existing information, or through collaborative or commissioned survey. Once these MPAs have been identified, further information gathered through survey may be required to deliver management measures and conservation advice. JNCC survey work takes place throughout the year and our staff who join the research vessels will blog throughout the survey sharing information and images from the survey.

 

JNCC Offshore Survey blog

  • Getting beneath the skin of animals on survey Blog#7


    As part of the sampling work the team have been carrying out, we have been collecting samples to support the work of our colleagues at the Natural History Museum and the Darwin Tree of Life project: (https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2018/november/genomes-of-all-66-000-uk-species-of-plants--animals-and-fungi-to.html). 

    During the collection of grab samples, we occasionally get samples that aren’t suitable for our MPA monitoring work. These samples may have had a stone caught in the grab jaws and have sediment washed out or have too little sediment for us to use. Rather than dispose of these samples, the team have been using them to collect individual animals, especially worms, sponges, bryozoans, starfish and brittlestars for the project, making maximum use of the time we spend and data we collect at sea.

    Processing the DNA samples in the vessel's lab © JNCC/Cefas

    When we’ve identified a sample for DNA analysis, we sieve off the sediment and retain the animals we find as well as any individuals living on the stones and cobbles that we’ve collected. The specimens are then identified by how they look to the eye (their morphotype) and a sample is extracted and preserved in ethanol to allow experts ashore to identify the animal and sequence its genome (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genome). This allows us to build up a large dataset on what the genome of different species and morphotypes looks like, which is known as a biobank. One special request we’ve had is for the pelican foot gastropod (Aporrhais pespelecani)so watch this space to see if any turn up!

    Keep up to date with all the latest from survey by following this blog, and using #CEND0719 on our Twitter and Facebook profiles!

    Survey Fun Fact:
    Aporrhais pespelecaniis the Latin for ‘pelican’s foot’ which describes the outer lip of the gastropod which expands to a shape similar to that of the webbed foot of a pelican.   


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