Dorset’s Giants

It’s been a fantastic year for jellyfish; they’ve been reported regularly in high numbers across the UK.

After Andy’s dance with a Compass jellyfish a few weeks ago, he jumped at the chance to go jellyfish hunting in Dorset with friends Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher.

They searched the glassy sea, before chancing upon dozens of impressive Giant Barrel jellyfish, six feet long, a few with shoals of horse mackerel hitching a ride in their skirts.

Here are a few snippets of Andy being spun around the Lyme Bay dance floor by giant beauties.

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Images by Andy, words by Jackie

Highland’s Hidden Homes

We’re excited to share a new short film we’ve been working on with the Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project and talented musician and composer, Mairearad Green.

Highland’s Hidden Homes aims to enthuse all age groups about the diversity of life in the shallow waters of the Highlands. It’s colourful and captivating with a vibrant musical score. We built the narrative around the theme of Scottish hospitality, exploring which sort of homes – and welcomes – we might find underwater.

The film premièred at the Summer Isles festival in Coigach on 29th August; there was “standing room only and a big round of applause”, said Janet Ullman, Highland Seashore Project Coordinator.

It’s been a privilege for SubSeaTV to be part of this project, giving people a glimpse of the underwater world that we love so much.

We hope you enjoy the film!

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Images by Andy, words by Jackie

With thanks to our partners: The Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project, Mairearad Green, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Highland Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund, and The Crown Estates.

Studland Bay – Juvenile Undulate Ray

A couple of weeks ago, Andy dashed to Dorset after our friends, Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher, sighted the first sea horse of the year at Studland Bay.

Andy and Steve found and filmed a pregnant male sea horse and his mate. This is great news and confirms that despite the continuing anchor and mooring disturbances, sea horses are continuing to breed at Studland Bay.

There was an added bonus. Steve and Julie have found spent Undulate Ray egg cases on the strand line in the past. The Undulate Ray (Raja undulata), a member of the shark family, is on the IUCN red list of endangered species. However, without official recorded sightings of adults or juveniles in the bay, the egg cases haven’t been enough to prove that the site is a nursery and breeding area. On two consecutive days, Andy and Steve found different juvenile undulate rays and filmed them. When you see how camouflaged they can be it’s not surprising these animals are rarely seen and have never been filmed at Studland.

This new footage proves beyond doubt that the eel grass at Studland is a nursery for growing Rays as well as a breeding site for both UK species of our iconic sea horses. Lets hope this new information helps tip the balance in favour of marine protection for Studland Bay.

With thanks to Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher for all their help in capturing this rare footage.

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Images by Andy, words by Jackie

Pembrokeshire Ballet Company

Andy’s been filming in Pembrokeshire lately. Beautiful bays dot the wild west coast of Wales, providing shelter from Atlantic surge and storms.

At the end of one dive, a Compass jellyfish joined him. The Chrysaora hysoscella dances into UK coastal waters around May and grows throughout the summer to reach 30cm across its bell, adorned with 16 radii compass-like markings.

Those long tentacles have a nasty sting, leaving angry red welts on skin. Andy joined this beautiful creature for a mesmerising pelagic ballet, and managed to dodge her stinging, swinging wake to capture this stunning video.

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Images by Andy, words by Jackie

Return from the liminal zone

Kimmeridge shoot 4I’ve just spent two nights and three days filming intertidal critters in Kimmeridge, Dorset. Working with Matt Fletcher for Off The Fence, Steve Trewhella, Nick Wilcox-Brown and I waded through the shallows, rigging lights, cameras, and hydrophones to look at the lives of those who live on the edge of land and sea.

Filming went really well. We’ve captured some fascinating stories, including behaviour that’s never been filmed before. It’ll be broadcast in a 3-part series called Wild Europe for National Geographic.

Special thanks to Steve for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Kimmeridge bay and generous help.

Andy