It was a fantastic day for the ferry crossing to Millport and “guddling” about in rock pools. We arrived at the Field Studies Council in Millport to find out about the Shore Thing Survey. This is an extensive national survey of our shorelines to detect any changes that may have been caused by natural or human influences. On arrival at the Field Station we were briefed on the aims of the Survey and how important the survey technique is to collecting reliable data. After lunch we headed down to the rocky shore and after mastering compass bearings and the technique levelling of the shore to create 3 zones -upper, middle and lower shore – it was time for the real hands on stuff that we had been looking forward to. The rock pools were alive with starfish, hermit crabs, limpets, barnacles and lots of different varieties of crabs.
After sampling the data and recording specific measurements we collected a range of creatures to take back to the laboratory for further discussions later in the evening. The laboratory is equipped with sea water tanks and a running sea water supply to ensure that any organisms brought back for observation will remain in similar water conditions. The course leaders shared their vast knowledge on all the specimens that we collected before returning them late that night to their original habitat. We had a long and very informative day and we certainly gained a lot of new knowledge to share with the rest of the school.
After an early breakfast we found out about how the Shore Thing project fits into the curriculum. It directly fits into the Year 11 biology topic which covers the sampling of data and the topic on how humans affect the environment. However, it develops pupils awareness of the environment and let’s face it who doesn’t enjoy poking about in rock pools – it takes you back to childhood holidays. Unfortunately the Clyde was too choppy for us to go on the Research Vessel but the boat had been out collecting samples for a university group due to visit the Field Station later that day. The haul was huge and the number of different species was breath taking. From cuttlefish fish to crabs and sea urchins to squat lobsters the tanks were marine menageries. The rest of the course focused on confident marine identification which we certainly were by the time were left Millport. It was an excellent trip and Milly and Katie really got to know what is involved with some of the ecological work of marine biologists.