Crawfish back in Cornwall, Seasearch team reports

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Crawfish back in Cornwall, Seasearch team reports

Crawfish appear to be recolonising the rocky reefs of Cornwall after decades of decline – that was one of the findings of a recent Seasearch dive expedition organised by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Exploring the Newquay & Gannel Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), one diver recorded 10 young crawfish on a single dive. The trust says that crawfish became virtually extinct in Cornish waters after being heavily fished by both fishermen and divers during the 1970s and ’80s.

The Seasearch team carried out four dives from skipper Chris Lowe’s boat Atlantic Diver, with 12 divers taking part each day. Crawfish were not the only gratifying sighting – pink seafans, which although a nationally scarce coldwater coral are commonly found on reefs off Newquay, were said to be “very large and in great condition”.

Also noted were a range of sea slugs living in the kelp forests, anemones, cup corals, sponges and “a huge diversity” of seaweeds, with every site “alive” with spider crabs, lobsters, velvet swimming crabs and starfish. A friendly grey seal was also noted.

“Newquay is home to some of the best diving in the UK and local people should be proud that we have such a healthy eco-system just beneath the waves,” said Matt Slater, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Awareness Officer. “The newly designated MCZ means that the marine life within this area is now better protected for future generations to enjoy.”

The weekend was sponsored by conservation fund-raising body Sea-Changers.

“We are really grateful for the funding Sea-Changers provided, as this expedition would not have gone ahead without their support,” said Slater. “Seasearch is great fun and it gives dives a new purpose. By documenting the wildlife divers spot, our volunteers are helping us with our vital conservation work.”

Seasearch trains qualified divers nationally to record the habitats and species they encounter on their dives.

In Cornwall other dives and training opportunities are scheduled for the summer, including a July expedition weekend in the Manacles MCZ. Divers interested in getting involved with Seasearch can contact the trust here

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