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  • The aim of the survey was to map the seabed environment around North Rona. The survey will form the baseline for future management of the area to determine the scope and nature of any “appropriate assessment”. The survey area encompasses the seabed all around North Rona. In order to record and characterise the habitats around North Rona, Seastar Survey Ltd. undertook an acoustic and a ground-truthing survey (video/still photography survey) in 2009. The aim of the acoustic element of the survey was to identify different backscatter returns and describe as well as delineate the extent of the various seabed habitat types occurring around North Rona. A digital sidescan sonar mosaic, in conjunction with single beam echo sounder derived bathymetry, provided the initial broadview to map the substrata present throughout the survey area as well as allowing the identification of any features of interest. The aim of the ground-truthing element of the survey was to provide a description of the richness and diversity of the habitats on both rocky reef and the softer sediments. The biotope distribution and species composition was developed through interpretation of drop-down video footage and digital still photography, taken after evaluation of the sidescan mosaic. The results of all elements of the survey were used to create a Geographical Information System (GIS) which enabled a high level of processing, interpretation and display of the sidescan sonar mosaic, bathymetry, substrata types, biotopes and the digital photography.

  • The survey of the marine environment in the Sound of Arisaig proposed SAC was undertaken by the BioMar Project, at the University of Newcastle, under contract to SNH. The Sound of Arisaig has an unusually high diversity of sublittoral sediment habitats within a relatively small area, and has rich maerl beds. This study was to map the pSAC and undertake further detailed studies of the maerl beds. Acoustic techniques were used validated by biological sampling using towed video and scuba divers. The data was stored and analysed using GIS.

  • This map covers the area in the south of The Sound of Barra, at the northeastern corner of Barra (from Traigh Mhor to near Loch Obe). The Sound of Barra has been selected as a possible Special Area of Conservation (pSAC) on the basis of the nationally important colony of common seals, Phoca vitulina, and also for the wide variety of habitats associated with shallow ?sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time?. A number of the sandbank habitats are of considerable conservation value, most notably the extensive beds of the eelgrass Zostera marina and tide-swept maerl beds composed of the coralline red alga Phymatolithon calcareum. A comprehensive biotope mapping survey of the sublittoral habitats within the Sound was undertaken in August 2001, by a collaborative research group from the University of St Andrews, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh University and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). This information supplemented the existing knowledge on the distribution of marine communities within the Sound of Barra pSAC and all this information was synthesised into a series of biotope classification maps.

  • The survey of the marine environment in the Sound of Arisaig proposed SAC was undertaken by the BioMar Project, at the University of Newcastle, under contract to SNH. The Sound of Arisaig has an unusually high diversity of sublittoral sediment habitats within a relatively small area, and has rich maerl beds. This study was to map the pSAC and undertake further detailed studies of the maerl beds. Acoustic techniques were used validated by biological sampling using towed video and scuba divers. The data was stored and analysed using GIS.

  • The Loch of Stenness is the largest saline lagoon in the UK and has been proposed as a cSAC. SeaMap were contracted to carry out a comprehensive survey and mapping exercise of the subtidal and intertidal habitats and associated biota of the loch in its entirety and that part of the Loch of Harray where this was found to have any brackish water. The survey was carried out using AGDS and direct observation using a towed video system and grab samples. Salinity was also measured.

  • The study ?Trialing of AGDS and video sledge monitoring techniques in Loch Maddy? is part of a larger project ?Loch Maddy monitoring trials? which itself contributes to Task 2.1 of the UK marine SACs LIFE project. This aims to establish an appropriate programme of surveillance and monitoring for the Special Areas for Conservation (SAC) and to trial monitoring methodologies and protocols for the features of a site. The Loch Maddy project will assist in the development of best practise for future monitoring and reporting programmes for other marine SACs in the UK and Europe. The first phase (1998-9) concentrates on testing variability within methodologies and the determination of the minimum intensity of sampling necessary to provide adequate data for monitoring. The second phase (1999-2000) will concentrate on repeatability However, the major part of the 1998-9 study, which concentrates on the use of acoustic ground discrimination systems (AGDS) for biotope mapping, will make use of previous mapping studies undertaken in 1996 and will provide valuable guidance for future studies on repeatability of mapping.

  • The kelp beds and interspersed sandy bays around Sanday were intensively surveyed using an acoustic ground discrimination system for remote survey and a towed video for ground truth sampling. The data were analysed using image classification techniques to produce a map showing the distribution of the kelp life forms and sand habitats. Phase 2 diver records were used, together with the video records, to describe the biotopes in detail. The kelp biotopes were typical of those described in the UK National Marine Biotope Classification (Connor et al. 1997). The report will inform site managers (including non-marine officers in Scottish Natural Heritage) of the biological importance of the kelp beds.

  • Broadscale intertidal survey of the Firth of Forth, biotope mapping.

  • The purpose of this piece of work was to provide additional information on known areas of scar ground in the Solway Firth. It was found that the location of the scar ground had altered considerably from previous predictions. Acoustic techniques were used and grab samples collected and analysed.

  • This evaluation of the RoxAnn system as a tool for mapping the distribution of kelp biotopes has been undertaken as part of the BioMar Project which is funded by the European Community through the LIFE Programme. The central aim of the present project was to evaluate of the RoxAnn system as a tool for mapping the distribution of kelp on the north west coast of the Isle of Lewis. If the RoxAnn system could map the distribution of kelp biotopes, it could prove to be a valuable tool for gathering resource data to assist management decisions - for instance assessing kelp harvesting proposals. The BioMar team carried out the field work for this study from August 27 to September 2, 1994. Five areas were studied on the NW coast of Lewis, Western Isles: four areas within East Loch Roag and the open coast from East Loch Roag to Bragar. Biological data were collected for 59 remote video samples, and the change in kelp density with depth measured at ten sites using SCUBA diving.