Marine Recording: discovering shoreline and underwater biodiversity

On the 18 March 2018 the NBN Secretariat gave a talk about the NBN Atlas to the Porcupine Marine Natural History Society’s annual conference, which this year was held in Edinburgh.  We were pleased to share the session with Seasearch, the citizen science project that works with volunteer divers to record underwater species and habitats, and the theme of the session was marine data quality.

In our talk we introduced recent and planned updates to the NBN Atlas platform, such as the new Help and Documentation Portal and the implementation of verification status flags, both of which will support data partners to provide high quality records and assist users in accessing and understanding the data.  Seasearch followed with a focus on the important role recorders play in data quality and how they can support the NBN with its work, and an impassioned plea about the importance of Open Data which will ensure all records are available for use. Seasearch has demonstrated this passion by sharing all its data openly on the NBN Atlas and this led to them winning the 2017 John Sawyer Open Data Award! The session closed with a look at 30 years of Seasearch activity.

One bonus to attending a conference is that it provides an opportunity to discover more about a subject, and we learnt that for marine recorders the shoreline is just as important as the underwater environment.  Reflecting this, the day included fascinating talks on coastal lagoon ecology, the inter-tidal zone, and current research into Edinburgh’s shoreline.   Another bonus is to be inspired by the beautiful photos and videos that often accompany talks about recording, the quality of which at this conference was very high.  To see this for yourself do have a look at a short YouTube video produced during a joint SNH and Heriot-Watt University project to research the sea caves of North Rona and St Kilda.  The video was introduced to us during a talk by Lisa Kamphausen (SNH) and it highlights not only the beauty of our underwater environment, but also the work involved in surveying such places.

The link to the video (three minutes long) is:  A full-length 10 minute video is also available on the same channel.

We’d like to thank the Porcupine Marine Natural History Society for inviting us to their conference, and Seasearch’s Paula Lightfoot, Charlotte Bolton and Natalie Hirst with whom we shared the session.

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