Sheephaven divers had a great weekend of activities last week starting with a return to Glinisk on Saturday morning, followed on Sunday with a near perfect snorkel in PortnaBlagh.
Also on site was the observation of Maerl, a corraline algae that is an important indicator of a good quality marine habitat.
Water quality was good with horizontal visibility of over 5 metres and despite temperatures as low as 6 degrees Celsius the two stick dive party still completed dives of well over 30 minutes.
This week in the UK it was announced that a further 23 more Marine Conservation Zones were to be added to an already 27 designated sites around the English and Welsh coasts, while in Scotland 30 sites were designated in 2014. In total 20% of English and Welsh seabed is now conserved.
The new sites create 12,500 sq Km of conserved seabed, which allows for a process that protects valuable fish stocks and habitats from overfishing and activities such as dredging and other seabed actions that would impact negatively on these locations in the future.
The sites are identified using scientific advice but also taking the work of Citizen Scientists under the auspices of the Marine Conservation Society and Seasearch.
Citizen Scientist projects have been in use in Ireland for many years, indeed some of the original botanists were amateurs who helped create the recording and data systems that are used today.
Irish divers can play their part in recording what is currently present in Irish waters by providing reports to Seasearch Ireland. This information can used to ground truth what is predicted to be on the various sites around Irish shores, the output from this recording is kept on Irish Biodiversity Centres data base and can be used to assist in proper planning of development around our coasts and hopefully the creation of Irish Marine Conservation Zones.