National Museum Service, Scotland, on shores at Plock of Kyle

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The Highland Seashore Project has visited the unique shores around the Plock of Kyle a number of times these past three years, but on the 13th June there was a very special workshop for the projects Volunteer Seashore Surveyors.  Fiona Ware and Sankurie Pye, curators for the Invertebrate Collection of the National Museum of Scotland came out to Lochalsh from Edinburgh to lead a day-long session on identifying species of crustaceans and molluscs.

Crabs, shrimps, barnacles and all the shellfish you can imagine were found, identified and catalogued.

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Following the tide out and back; buckets of beasties were gathered and taken back to the National Trust for Scotland Balmacara Estate Classroom in Balmacara Square. Microscopes were set up, hand lenses polished and everyone went to work teasing out animals from the seaweeds and sand. There were shore crabs as big as a hand, down to tiny crustaceans mere millimetres in size. Eyes were strained but in no time sheets of paper were filled with Latin names for every creature found.

A reward for such hard work was a warm welcome at Beth’s Café in Balmacara Square, where cold hands were wrapped around warm coffees and tasty soups. Reinvigorated the surveyors went back to work with gusto.

At the end of the day there was a special presentation about Marine Non Native Invasive Species by Susan Miller of TCV [The Conservation Volunteers] Natural Talent Trainee with the NMS. She introduced the volunteer surveyors to Marine non-native species that are spreading up the British coasts from docks, bilge water and leisure craft.

At the end of the day there was a final push to get all the recording, outlined in a single and very long list, sent over for the NMS records and also for the Highland Seashore Project Survey. The group heartily thanked Fiona, Sankurie and Susan, with an added appreciation, once again of how special and diverse our shores really are.

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Sankurie Pye and Susan Miller busy identifying species from the Plock of Kyle at the Balmacara square classroom. Photo credit Janet Ullman

16 Jun 2015
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