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Snap Happy
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As a fish prodder, one of the things I want to do this year is some kind of course on Marine Identification.  I did the various fish ID dives for my Padi AOW but it was a waste of time.  I'm really after something where you get led by an experienced marine biologist and have lectures introducing various aspects of marine life, how best to find it etc.  as well as dives to find the stuff and examine it.

Does anybody know of such a course?  has anybody taken such a course?  If we find one would anybody be up for doing it?
 

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Will it incude preparation and cooking too?
To be honest I don't know of such a course but I can ask about.Perhaps one of the Unis.that do Marine Biology courses maybe a good place to start asking.
All the best,Hobby.
 

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I would be up for it too....I will ask a "contact" to see if the dry land bit could be arranged.  It'd be in Cumbria if it came off.  Would anyone fancy that?  We could do the classroom fish stuff and then some fun dives in the lakes?
 

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Yeah, might be nice to know the name of the fish I'm so rudely prodding - it's the latex that does it, I'm really not like that ;)
 

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</span>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Quote: from Timing on 1:27 pm on Jan. 8, 2003
I'm really after something where you get led by an experienced marine biologist and have lectures introducing various aspects of marine life, how best to find it etc.  as well as dives to find the stuff and examine it.
<span =''>
Try the Marine Conservation Society, I think there might be an ID course run by a couple of marine biologists on Anglesey, Kirsten Ramsey and Rohan Holt.

It is part of the Seasearch Project and I'm sure there will be other courses running around the country. There are usually plenty of Seasearch dives organised all over the place, even St Abb's I think - probably more to see than in the Lakes.

Try the Seasearch website http://www.seasearch.org.uk/ for details, although last time I looked it was still showing 2002 dates, there'll be a list of contacts.  

smallfry

(Edited by smallfry at 3:17 pm on Jan. 8, 2003)
 

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Snap Happy
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Hey Lou,  be good to hear what your contact offers tho I'd rather do the dives in the sea - guarenteed to see more.

I have just found a potential course run by www.menaisubaqua.org and have asked for more info.  Could be just the ticket and being based in Anglesey would make a very nice trip.

Apparently the MCS sometimes run such courses but can't find details on their web-site.  Also so do the BSAC (don't know why I didn't check their first) so will find details.

I'll post anything I find here when I get more info.

If a number of us are interested then we may be able to get a discount price.
 

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Snap Happy
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Hey Smallfry, thanks for the info.  

Looks like we were postin at the same time!  Rohan was the guy at Menai Sub-aqua that I emailed for more info - looks like he might be just what I'm after.

Now, a two part course in Anglesey and St Abbs would be the nads...

Cheers
 

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I hate to maybe state the obvious, but, Why don't you just buy a GOOD marine life book and carry it to dive sites with you. Then when you see something that you immediately can't recognise have a really good look at it. Think about where all the fins are, What size is it?, What colour/colours is it, Where is it? and so on. This is what we do and when we see an odd fish. It provides an interesting look through the book when you are in the pub doing liquid decompression.
You also learn about other fish as you are argueing with your buddy about whether it was fish X or fish Y.

Just a thought
Peter
 

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Snap Happy
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Hi Pete thats a mighty fine question.

Well the reason is that I want to know more than just id'ing the critters that I see (or more often that not don't see).  I want to understand the biological and ecological aspects of marine life, why things do what they do, how to really look for stuff by understanding their lifecycles, what they feed on, how to sample them (if appropriate) and examine them etc etc.  I want to know more about the hows, whys, whens etc.

Granted I can learn this from books but getting in amongst it with quality tuition is the best way to learn for me.  I'll still get the books and argue about what I've seen over a pint but I also want to know more background stuff - and then onto more advanced stuff.  It the repressed scientist in me I guess.  

I've also said this elsewhere but taking up diving has been the stimulus for an increasing interest in enviromental issues esp wrt the impact on marine ecology - this is a first simple step in developing my knowledge along that route.

I guess for the wreckies its like the differences between just diving and seeing a wreck compared to doing the research and properly exploring the thing (esp if it's an unidentified wreck) till you know it inside out.
 

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I can recommend a great book that goes into detail on the whole ecology of reefs and species.  I think it is called "Watching Fish."

lots of good stuff about anemone fish and symbiotic relationships.

It explains little titbits like why fish and fishes are both plural and what the difference is between fish and fishes.

Feel free to post a spoiler if you know !!

Kind Regards,
Darren
 

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I tend to agree with Peter K, get a few decent books and spot them / read up on them yourself. If my memory serves me correctly you did a biomedical sciences degree?
Also there's plenty of good marine science available through the net, mostly from american universities.

More practically, I recently bought British Sea Fishes (by Dr Frances Dipper, about £18), available in most dive stores, for the non-fish marine wildlife see "Collins guide to the sea shore" (about £15), a very well respected guide. For the more technical stuff see a good physiology text, I've got a good one called something like "Environmental physiology of animals" (~£35), it has a sizable marine section. See also "Biology of Intertidal Animals" by Newell (a very hefty tome!). And I think there's a decent newish Marine biology/marine ecology book by Prof Steve Hawkins (not to be confused with the physicist of a similar name!).  Local libraries usually can get you Open University texts, they do a good ones on animal form & function and several types of ecology.
One of my favourite books from my undergraduate days, and one I'd recommend without hesitation, is Zoology (1991) by Dorit, Walker and Barnes (Saunders Publishing, ~£25), lots of colour pics and well written, covers everything you would want to get started with.  I think that one might be available via local libraries.

IME, Most professional marine biologists don't know (ie remember) much about the broader spectrum of marine wildlife, everyone gets bogged down in their favourite subject beastie (for most of Newcastle's marine dept that's polychaete worms!). The local Marine Research station (The Dove marine laboratory in Cullercoats) does 'courses' for the public (apparently) but I've no idea about the quality of these 'courses'  

Let me know if you'd like some other texts recommended.
Chee-az
Steve (fellow fish prodder!)
 

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Don't any of the PADI schools in the UK run the Underwater Naturalist speciality course? I did it years ago here in Sweden. It was a 2-day (weekend) course, taught by a marine biologist, and I learnt a lot about marine animals and plants and the marine environment in general. I later went on to do a 10-week full time marine biology orientation course at Gothenburg University during the summer, by the way, which I loved. You can learn a lot from books but if you do a proper course you wil learn a lot more, and it's a lot more interesting than rusty scrap iron, in my opinion. :sofa:
 

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</span>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Quote: from John Gulliver on 10:12 pm on Jan. 8, 2003
Don't any of the PADI schools in the UK run the Underwater Naturalist speciality course?
<span =''>Scuba diving in the nuddy? :errrr:
 

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Naturalist, not naturist, you nitwit :wink:
 

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Ok, what I was thinking wasn't a formal course, as such.  More a talk, discussion, tour etc with this guy that my dad works for.

Maryport has a small, but very interesting, aquarium that is 90% native species, and the guy that owns it does his own collecting, and dives a bit.  He apparently knows alot about the the broad range of UK marine life, including plant life, and is enthusiastic about education.  

The aquarium itself is pretty interesting, they have constantly updating stock as samples are found, or handed in by local fishermen etc.

I have asked dad to chat to his boss and see if something could be sorted.  We could always go over to St Abbs afterwards I suppose, I just said the lakes fo a fun dive (rather than part of the course) because we would be there already.

Let me know if anyone would fancy it, or I'll tell dad not to bother.
 

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Snap Happy
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Right, I've had a response from the guy at Menai SubAqua and follows:

"Hi Tim
Just starting to put together possible course dates for this year - the main one being a week-long course based on the Arran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland. This will probably in mid to late July but costs and accommodation not been sorted out yet.  Other events will be planned - I expect we'll run something this spring, perhaps one or two in mid and late summer and then autumn if interest is still there.  Also seasearch courses tba.  What I normally do, to reduce costs and avoid having to organise divers I don't know (Health and safety implications) is to get a club or group of individuals to decide on a venue and date (usually 2 or three days).  The venue should be in an area with a range of easy diving with plenty of contingency for poor weather and near to suitable accommodation with access to a 'lab' (someone's kitchen / barn / garage / university lab ... even used a chicken shed - anywhere where trays of wet specimens can be sorted in well lit conditions with a power supply for a microscope nearby).  A boat isnt essential if there's reasonable shore diving.  This way people get to know more about their local/favourite diving areas and I slot in and provide teaching material, identify specimens, do talks, dive to collect specimens etc.  This usually works out cheapest and easiest for everyone to organise.

I usually charge £10 per person per day (minimum 6 (ish)) plus accommodation, food and a bit towards travel (best if all in same self-catering accommodation).

A typical long weekend course would go something like this:
Friday evening - turn up at venue.  Talk on main marine phyla and groups and intro to marine life id.  Set 'test' to complete during weekend Saturday - briefing then dive (possible to do two dives in different habitat types - e.g. sheltered site and exposed site)evening - sort through specimens collected during the day.  Identifying different groups and main characteristics and using identification guides.

Other talks - can be underwater photography / survey techniques / keeping cold water marine aquaria or combination of all.  Sunday - people target phyla or groups of animals and plants to look at in more detail and make collections on one more dive (can be two if quick and easy sites).  Sunday pm, sort through specimens again.  Discuss differences in habitat types.  Assess progress and 'test'.

If you're still interested then suggest a few dates and a likely venue. I have joined groups on a weekends hardboat diving, live-aboards, shore diving, diving schools and even run courses for completely committed wreckies!

Let me know if this still suits you - if you are completely solo then keep in touch and just join in when we get one of our local groups to arrange a course.
Cheers
Rohan"



I spoke to a couple of people at my club last night and it turned out that a number of them have been on a course run by Rohan and learned a lot, they highly recommended it.  I'm interested in the weekender option.


Lou, thanks for speaking to your Dad, it does sound interesting (I've not been to a an aquarium focusing solely on local marine life) and I'd like to do it as well as do the above- and you're right, if we do do it then a dip in the lakes would also be on.

Is anybody else interested in any of the above?  If we have any real interest I get it sorted and post in planned trips.

For those recommending books, thanks for your suggestions - I'll have a look and put them on my wish list.  However, my preferred learningstyle is definitely to get amongst it and fill my boots (as our esteemed friend Bren would say) and then supplement my base knowledge with texts.  So, somewhat stubbornly, I'm still going the course option.

BTW Steve is right I am a Biomed grad and one thing that taught me was this: I could spend ages comparing samples with pictures and diagrams but without some learned person being there actually pointing things out, I couldn't see what I was looking at.  Once they did that then I could pick it up and go from there.

Cheers all.
 

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Tim

One question for me (being veggie) is : do you kill things on the above course?  He talks about specimens etc, but are they returned to where you found them intact, or not?

Cheers

Lou
 

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Snap Happy
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Ah Lou, now thats an interesting question and not one that I'd thought of.  Of course being a bio grad I've dissected more than my fair share of things (including various human stuff) but doing the same thing for my own amateur (rather than formal educational or professional)interest raises an interesting ethical question - ie. is this the point where book knowledge should take over, hhmmmm.

I certainly would'nt take anything large - Occy, Lobsters, Crabs, fish etc certainly not unless they were to be returned.  I imagined the samples to be molluscs, anemomes, various plant life inc algal samples from rocks etc.

I've asked the question Lou - will get back with the reply.
 

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Good question, Lou! Of course I can't answer for that particular course, but in my experience, biologists are very much aware of the ethical issues these days. On the courses I've done, practically everything got returned to the sea alive. The only exception was when we dissected something, e.g. a seastar, which wasn't all that often as there are now good computer simulations for most dissections. Things were a lot worse in the sixties when I was at pharmacy school.
 

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Assuming that recreational marine biology courses are broadly similar in content to undergraduate ones, then you'll spend most of your time learning about invertebrates as these make up over 97% of all animal species on our planet, so fish will be a fairly small course component. There's also likely to be quite a bit on marine algae, which includes the seaweeds, and a fair bit on marine plankton.

As far as the practical aspect, I would imagine that you'd be looking at the animals morphologies, probably using a "dissection microscope",  but I doubt you'd be dissecting anything (for no other reason than to avoid potential litigation). You certainly won't be taking a scalpel to an octopus as these are the only invertebrate for which you would require a Home Office licence to work with.
The interesting things are the adaptations to the marine environment and how these differ from one beastie to the next. The marine biology part of my zoology degree consisted of looking at very very small beasties from rock pools and other parts of the littoral zone i.e. the tidal bit.

This URL looks reasonably scientific, despite its name!http://www.enchantedlearning.com/biomes/intertidal/intertidal.shtml

Chee-az
Steve
 
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