I spent last week on the Marine Biological Sampling course at FSC Millport. One of my objectives this year is to develop a specialism in polychaete identification and this trip was a great opportunity to collect some worms from a number of different habitats and sampling methods. For example, we found a sea mouse (Aphrodita aculeata, left below) in a beam trawl, an estuary ragworm (Hediste diversicolor, middle below) taking core samples on a sandy beach and a trumpet worm (Lagis koreni, right below) in a benthic grab sample. The course allowed me to explore different methods of polychaete sampling and pick the brain of a tutor who had a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field, it was a really valuable experience.
Also on the course was Aroa, last year’s Natural Talent trainee based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It was great to catch up with her and benefit from the experience she has accumulated over the past year studying seaweeds. One of the polychaetes that I have been particularly excited to find is the green paddle worm Eulalia viridis. It’s a beautiful, bright green worm, who’s vibrant eggs will often wash up on Merseyside beaches, but whom we still haven’t found in it’s adult form. On our last day in Millport, Aroa collected a kelp holdfast from the rocky shore and brought it back to the lab. Inside the holdfast was a small green worm that turned out to be Eulalia viridis, a testament to the benefits of skill sharing within the Natural Talent program.