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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you want part of the answer, follow the link to Tim’s blog:
but see if you can work out the other two.