It’s a hull lot better this week

This week, we have been busy getting the National Trust boats prepared for the new season.  We use the boats within the Strangford Lough Marine Nature Reserve to monitor the populations of seals and birds and to access the islands to carry out habitat management.  During the next couple of months, we will be spending a lot of time monitoring the colonies of seabirds that choose to nest on Strangford’s islands in their thousands.

max's pic Tringare

After a year of sitting in the water, the boats get covered in an incredible amount of seaweed, barnacles and other encrusting wildlife.

All this growth might look like a fascinating habitat, but it causes so much drag on the boat, that it slows it down to about half its speed and causes us to use much more fuel.  So every year, we take the boats out of the water to scrape it all off and give the boats a good clean.  It is a lot of hard work, but it definitely needs doing.

P1020125re

We found a living reef of mussels clinging to the bottom of one of the boats.  When we scraped them off, we were able to collect several buckets full.

P1020128re

Unfortunately, they weren’t quite big enough for eating so we took them down to the shore and returned them to the sea.  Hopefully they will continue growing on the seabed, where they belong.

Heather cleaning off the last of the growth from "Carbo"

Heather cleaning off the last of the growth from “Carbo”

Once the hull has been cleaned off, we apply a coat of paint that is supposed to deter stuff from growing on it.  But it doesn’t seem to last too long.

"Tringa", cleaned and half painted.

“Tringa”, cleaned and half painted.

In addition to the two survey boats, the National Trust also has a barge used for transporting livestock and farm machinery to the larger islands.  It is vital to get these islands grazed each year, to enhance the biodiversity of the species-rich grassland habitats.

"Penelope" being used to transport machinery to an island.

“Penelope” being used to transport machinery to an island.

Can anyone guess the significance of the names of the three National Trust boats: Carbo, Tringa and Penelope?

This next photo of Tim’s might give you a clue.

Tims photo of Carbo

If you want part of the answer, follow the link to Tim’s blog:

http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/nest-count-day.html

but see if you can work out the other two.

 

 

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About National Trust Volunteer Group

We are a group of National Trust Countryside Wardens and Volunteers who regularly get together to do a number of interesting projects to inhance our countryside and wildlife. We spend most of our time around the internationally important site of Strangford Lough and some near by countryside sites. If you ever fancy joining us for a day out, you will be made most welcome.
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