Exploring the sea bed in our local area - An Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) project
Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (NMW) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) have been involved in a large project looking at the sea bed of the Outer Bristol Channel.
Scientists from NMW studied the animals living in and on the sea bed. The BGS geologists have produced maps that show the physical nature of the sea bed in greater detail than has been previously possible. Sandy, muddy and gravelly areas have been identified, as well as rock outcrops, sand waves, and even some wrecks.
The study area is a complex environment with a variety of habitats that are home to hundreds of different animal species - including worms, shells, crabs, starfish and many more. The biological and geological information has been combined to form an extensive idea of the habitats of the area.
The Bristol Channel is used for many different activities, ranging from recreation to the dredging of sand. A good knowledge of the sea bed is therefore essential to ensure the sustainability and conservation of our natural resources.
The study has provided 'baseline information', detailing the habitats, biotopes and species present in the Outer Bristol Channel. This information is being disseminated to everyone from schoolchildren through to those involved in marine science, conservation, planning, and use of natural resources. This will contribute toward achieving the sustainable use of these resources.
We use a variety of techniques to discover the secrets of the sea bed. To study the animals we use a grab. This mechanical device removes a sample from the sea bed and enables us to count and identify the animals within once it has been brought aboard ship. The geologists use several pieces of equipment, including sonar, to map the sea bed below. We have also taken video footage and photographs that show exactly what the sea bed looks like, showing the larger animals living on the sea bed together with the tracks and burrows of other creatures.