Rare sea life returns to Lundy reef
Survey suggests signs are good at island conservation area.
RARE sea life is making a welcome return to the reefs around Lundy, according to conservationists.
Researchers studying the island’s pink sea fan population say the soft coral is showing ‘signs of improvement’, while numbers of crawfish, increasingly rare in UK waters, appear to be on the rise.
The Marine Conservation Society, which coordinated the recent Seasearch volunteer dive programme, say the sightings are clear evidence of the island’s benefits of the island’s status as a Marine Conservation Zone.
Seasearch coordinator, Chris Wood said the colonial corals were slow growing and long lived, but fragile and easily damaged.
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He said: “In Lundy they had been affected by a ‘wasting disease’ in 2001 which caused the living tissues to die and the fan-shaped colonies to be overgrown with other organisms.
“We recorded the condition of each colony to try and spot signs of new growth or newly formed colonies. There were some signs of improvement, but the population is still less healthy than elsewhere showing the importance of protecting other areas with sea fan populations as well as Lundy.”
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The team sighted three crawfish, a large lobster-like creature not to be confused with smaller freshwater crayfish.
Mr Wood added: “In the past they been over exploited by tangle netting and hand collection and populations in England are now very low.
“We have only received sporadic records of crawfish in England in recent years. To see three on one dive is simply amazing and a vindication of the highly protected status of Lundy.”