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Skomer Marine Nature Reserve
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MNR history

Monitoring and research – development and expansion

The biological monitoring established in the 1980s continued after designation.  Earlier surveys were revived and converted into monitoring projects and many new initiatives were started.  Much biological work is done in-house by the MNR staff, who are all marine scientists, but some specialist work is contracted out.  Volunteers projects have also been developed, particularly since Kate Lock joined the team, to address several labour intensive projects that need a minimum of marine science experience.

Immediately after the MNR’s designation, recognising that the messages from biological monitoring data are impossible to decipher out of context, a programme of hydrographic and meteorological monitoring was developed.   An automated self-logging weather station with real-time display in the MNR office was installed on the Deer Park and routine manual sampling of seawater temperature, salinity and turbidity during the spring to autumn months began.

In 1993 a purpose-built, galvanised steel frame was deployed northeast of The Neck at 18 metres depth since when it has been almost continually home to automated seabed temperature loggers, suspended sediment samplers and a series of sophisticated but temperamental automated turbidity sensors.   For several years a wave height and direction data buoy was also deployed three miles north of the MNR in the middle of St Brides Bay.   As maintaining the buoy was so time consuming, expensive and occasionally risky it was eventually re-homed with the Met Office, but not before wave heights of over 13 metres (45 feet) were recorded!

Development of monitoring techniques and expansion of biological, hydrographic and activities monitoring has continued.  Collaboration with university researchers took some to get off the ground, but collaborations have been established with Aberystwyth, Swansea, Bangor and Plymouth Universities, Imperial College London and, closer to home, Pembrokeshire College.

… to be continued …

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