Sunday, 14 February 2010

Archive First Posting

Studland Bay-The Marine Bill, Stakeholders, Seahorses/Eelgrass.

Herewith a few facts and thoughts on The Marine Bill and how the presence of Seahorses in the Eel grass beds of Studland Bay may affect the current enjoyment of thousands who use the sea for recreation and a living.
There has been considerable Media coverage about Seahorses and how anchoring and Moorings may cause damage to the Eelgrass beds where the seahorses have been seen in recent years. Although the media has been full of “This amazing new discovery...” ,”Colony of Sea horses breeding in...” there is nothing new about Seahorses in The Bay. They have certainly been summer visitors for the last hundred years. Further thoughts on Seahorses follow later but first

The Marine Bill.
Marine Bill
The Marine bill was passed by Parliament last year made provision for a number of Marine Conservation zones to be selected around the coast of England and for these areas to be set up by 2012. The areas referred to as Marine Protected areas (MPAs) will each have its own degree of protection.
The Government has set up through DEFRA a semi official group called Finding Sanctuary. This group which consists of a plethora of committees is to research which areas of sea should be designated MPAs around the coast of South West England. These areas will be recommended to the Government during 2011 to become law in 2012. Natural England, Crown Estates, County Councils, National Trust and others are all part of Finding Sanctuary. The Liaison Officer for Dorset is John Weinberg who lives in Swanage.
More information is available on Finding Sanctuary website.

Stakeholders-that is anybody who uses or has an interest in the sea is being asked for their input to ensure that all uses of the sea are taken into consideration before MPAs are designated. This is to be done through Liaison Officers who will be collecting information over the next few months to be completed by October this year.
Already there is a website run by a Charity- The Marine Conservation Society which has selected Studland South Bay (from Redend rocks to Old Harry) as an area that deserves protection from anchoring and mooring. This has probably been selected and placed on the website by Seahorse enthusiasts, who would like to see neither anchoring nor mooring in the areas of the Eelgrass beds. These enthusiasts consist in the main of a few divers who are fanatical about Seahorses. They have carried out a relentless media campaign to further their own ends. This has been partially successful and has misled large numbers of the public.
If you are a stakeholder please register your uses/interest with John Weinberger.

Seahorses and their habitats are now protected under European legislation. There is considerable interest in these delightful little creatures worldwide and scientific research is being carried out to find out more about them. Where Seahorses breed ,live etc is still unknown. The media headlines that there is a breeding Colony, which implies they are present all year round, in the eelgrass beds of Studland Bay is unlikely. A local view is that Seahorses, like other marine life, arrive in The Bay for the summer months. They probably come in on the Spring high tides in April/May as the waters warm. Their temporary habitats are the eel grass beds and under the Japanese weed early in the season. The warm waters in the thick eelgrass beds around the moorings are ideal habitats for the summer months. The Seahorses also enjoy a certain amount of shade from the boats moored and anchored above. In early September along with other marine life they start to move out to sea for their wintering waters. By the time of the autumn storms around the time of the autumn equinox (late September) they are gone. Media cries of breeding seahorses is probably correct as a few pregnant seahorses are bound to be amongst these summer visitors. This last summer some marine life left earlier than usual, in August , and probably the Seahorses left then as well.
The Eelgrass beds in the Bay have expanded considerably in the last few years and now spread across parts of the Bay where a few years ago there was just a sandy seabed. The thickest and most healthy beds are found amongst the Moorings which offer protection from the Fishing trawlers which come into the Bay dragging their nets along the sea bed.
Media coverage of how the moorings and anchoring cause damage to the beds is grossly exaggerated and has been fed to the Media by a few Seahorse fanatics. The fact that the beds are expanding and so healthy is proof that misinformation has been fed to the media. The Crown Estates with Natural England are carrying out a 2 year survey by having a Voluntary no anchor zone (VNAZ) to compare an area where boats do not anchor/moor with an area where they do. The results of this Survey will be known in 2012.

Above is the background to The Marine bill, and a few thoughts on Seahorses and Eelgrass in Studland Bay. The danger is that the many uses of the Bay will be curtailed just because Seahorses are present for a short time in the summer months. The hundreds of yachts/motor launches which anchor in the Bay during the summer may be forced to go elsewhere.
Hopefully all uses of the sea will be taken into consideration before any degree of protection is imposed. There is a danger, however that decisions will be taken which will limit people’s enjoyment. Any decision to ban boats from anchoring/mooring in The Bay off South beach has serious implications for local businesses in Studland. The cafe, shop, Pub, Hotels, B&Bs etc will all suffer.
As the MPAs are to be decided next year it is important that “Stakeholders” register their uses of The Bay with The Dorset Liaison Officer for “Finding Sanctuary” before October this year.
John Weinberg can be contacted as follows:
Tel 07788675294,


  1. I have been reading with interest and I must admit a certain element of alarm about the seahorses being studied by divers off Studland south beach. I know they have been here for a very long time as my children (who are now in their fifties) used to watch them through goggles when we first came to the Village in the early seventies
    Are they a rarity off the British coast and are they in danger of extinction? I notice they are being compared to species like the gorillas in Africa, and Orangutan’s in Malaya. Pandas in China? I am unable to understand why the area of sea grass has grown very extensively over the years if as reported it has been severely damaged by visiting yachts. My feeling is that as has always happened in the past, the bay should be free for use by all users. Sailors, small fishing boats, swimmers windsurfers and divers alike. For one group to think it their right to take over is surely wrong. The divers are being given an area of sea grass to be protected in order indulge their hobby . The Bay in my humble opinion should, as always in the past be available for use by everyone. - Village resident

  2. I quite agree with Daphne. Why should The Bay be regulated just for a few Seahorses. All the boat owners from the Poole Harbour marinas/yacht clubs should get involved in registering their uses of The Bay.

  3. Yes i certainly agree with all the comments already posted on here.The Purbeck Coastline has enough restrictions on it already.
    1/ Poole Harbour to the North is a virtual no take zone and marine conservation area.
    2/Studland Nudist Beach ..its certainly a place where I feel uncomfortable and restricted ! Although there are obviously a few that don't.
    3/Kimmeridge Bay which is now a Marine Nature Reserve with the Dorset Marine Wildlife Trust.
    4/Westwards from Kimmeridge Bay we have the Army Tank Ranges with their extensive seaward Danger Zones.
    So apart from the remaining stretches of Studland Bay, Swanage Bay, Chapmans Pool and Lulworth theres not much that remains safe and free.

  4. It is disappointing that the assertions of a few are destined to erroneously damage the enjoyment of the many. Studland Bay must have been used as an anchorage since anchors were invented, in order to allow ships and boats wait for a fair tide before entering Poole Harbour, and I bet that someone will have an old picture of loads of sailing craft at anchor there. Furthermore it is apparent that the seahorses and seagrass are thriving under current conditions including the allegedly higher numbers of anchoring yachts; with the environment if it ain't broke don't fix it. In terms of passage making, either along the coast or across the channel, Studland Bay is important for sailing vessels which, by their very nature, are less damaging to the environment than most others including diving ribs. So I hope for an outbreak of common sense and balance based on some evidence in the shape of objective, rigorous academic research, not the conditioned reflex of the diving fraternity.

  5. Hello Steve, As you say the Bay is a very important sanctuary for boats in bad weather and provides more shelter from a SE Gale than Swanage where they get a deflected ground swell off the Ballard cliffs that comes into Swanage from a North Easterly direction.
    I'll like to direct everyone to Studland Bay on YOUTUBE ..there are some very interesting old cine films on there of the Bay from the 1930s and 1960s ...and more upto date underwater ones from divers not connected with the Seahorses.

  6. One of my concerns is that Studland is a traditional passage and refuge anchorage. It is valuable while avoiding a foul tide and the overfalls off of The Anvils and St Aldhelms. Putting into Poole adds miles and hours. Swanage is not such a viable anchorage.

    In hard weather from between SSW and WNW (the usual direction for Channel storms) being able to tuck up under the beach at Studland provides safe and sheltered respite. To deny anchoring to small boats at Studland will - at best - be mighty inconvenient, and at worst will put vessels and lives at risk.

  7. Most sailors agree that the Eelgrass beds in the area are expanding. Does anyone say otherwise?

    In this article:

    Steve Trewhella tells us:

    "their numbers have been snowballing. We're into the 40s now, and still finding more. At least half have been pregnant males. They're not that common in the world and definitely unique here. [snip] We've watched them courting - things we've never seen before. Each male can give birth to up to 300 young and be pregnant again within 24 hours."

    Doesn't sound like the boats are harming them to me.

    Indeed, Ian Alexander, team leader of the region for Natural England, (the government body charged with conserving, enhancing and managing the natural environment) says:

    "Seahorses have definitely become more common in the last five years, but it's happened with the boating community already there. Boating pressure has been static over the period when numbers have been increasing."

    It seems clear to me there is no problem. Boats use the bay, Sea Horses thrive - who would want to mess with that?

  8. A local fisherman told me that the eelgrass beds have expanded considerably over the last few years. I don’t own a boat or a mooring, I’m just a humble resident who does not wish to see the harmony of our bay destroyed by unnecessary and unenforceable regulations.

  9. I wouldn't want to risk changing this very special place on the words of a few extremist seahorse lovers. I'm all for conservation and protecting seahorses but before we go adding more restrictions to ourselves we need to know that they are worthwhile.

    I first used the bay 20 years ago and the eelgrass has definitely got more widespread since then so the eel grass seems to be ok.

    Steve Trewellha says that the numbers are booming so that seems ok.

    Set that against the loss of an anchorage that is invaluable to sailing boats on passage and the pain doesn't actually seem to be for any gain.

  10. Charles Galloway1 March 2010 at 01:31

    I have just recently looked at the website and their scuttlebut blog/forum and am extremely interested in the comments. I will be exploring further the comment that somebody has reported The Seahorse Trust to The Charity Commissioners. Is this a case of misappropriation of grants?

  11. Steve trewhella.2 March 2010 at 00:52

    It looks like the ministry of misinformation has been busy again.
    There is no proof that the eelgrass bed is expanding.
    Yes Studland has always had boats anchoring there, but where there 300 a day back in the 1920's ? I expect not.
    The Crown have told me that there has never been consent for any moorings at south beach and no proof has come forward regarding inherent rites to have moorings in the bay.
    I have never said seahorses are snowballing, newspapers like to sex things up sometimes.
    Kimmeridge bay is not a marine reserve, it only has a voluntary status, more misinformation from mad frank.
    I would suggest you ignore the first posting and go to the natural england website to veiw the facts on this project.
    There is much talk about seahorses liking the shade from anchoring boats, and think eelgrass growing around the moorings ?
    I have spent 200 hours with the Studland seahorses, I have never seen them resting in the shade under boats, and I doubt if the person who wrote this nonsense has either.
    The eelgrass under the moorings has gone, what to you think eelgrass can still grow with heavy chains smashing on top of it ?
    Check the facts, look at the science, if there is no problem at Studland why are Natural england and Crown spending tens of thousands of pounds looking into the problem ?

  12. Steve trewhella2 March 2010 at 01:03

    I would be happy to email photo's of anchor and mooring damage , we also have hours of video shot under the moorings showing massive scour marks nearly 50ft across, bare sand, no eelgrass.
    If you don't beleive me , go for a snorkel when the waters clear.
    Google ' seagrass or eelgrass' damage, this is a problem all over the world, not just at Studland.
    Facts , not village gossip.

  13. I have emailed Steve with a request for the information he has offered on here an the YBW forum mentioned above. Maybe that will change my view, which seems to be in line with most of the views above.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Why can't they change these WHITE Seahorse taggs to Green ones that would fit in with their natural colouring?

  16. Does Steve Trewella really expect all boating activities to cease in the bay so that he can indulge in his hobby of watching the seahorses who have been living here long before he was born. Surely these little creatures would be happier being left alone rather than being disturbed by divers and gogglers .

  17. For Mr Steve Trewhella...The reason Natural England and The Crown Estate are spending all this money on Surveys of the bay is down to you and your mates alleging there is damage and they obviously feel they need a professional survey to check out your allegations.
    You must take great satisfaction in knowing that in a time of Great Economic Downturn and major cutbacks in Public Services you have been the cause of this expensive wild goose chase.

  18. Steve trewhella3 March 2010 at 01:06

    Could I suggest you aim your criticism at Crown estate and Natural england if you think public money is being wasted.
    You will need to speak to Fiona wynne at Crown.
    Or Fiona mcnee at the Dorset office of Natural england.
    Alternatively you could attend the next Studland seagrass and seahorse study group meeting this month, I am unsure when this is.
    Where you can voice your concerns.

  19. No I won't be redirected ,that post was directed at you matey.
    You started all this by kicking up such a high profile fuss in the media so its only fair that you'll have to take the responsibility.

  20. I have been told recently that the seahorses do not need eelgrass to survive and given some anecdotal evidence to back this up. As I was shocked by this I have asked for confirmation and if I get that and some more scientific facts I will report it on here, along with the source, if given permission.

  21. Steve Trewhella says there is no evidence the Sea Grass beds are expanding. There is, and he knows it. A survey of the area was conducted by BP in 1991, which can be compared with current satellite pics, which show a considerable growth, particularly in towards South Beach in the very area of the moorings, and most crowded part of the anchorage.

    And Steve DID tell the YBW forum that there was a 'thriving' Seahorse colony, quite recently. The postings are there for all to see.

    It is fact, not conjecture, that small boats have used this anchorage extensively for over 60 years, and fact that both the Eel grass and the Seahorses have coexisted with this use over that time.

    In spite of all their smoke screens and press coverage, Steve and the Seahorse Trust have completely failed to produce ANY quantifiable evidence that the Seahorses or habitat are actually suffering from the boating activity.

    The eco system of the bay appears to be stable, removing the human influence may well cause it to alter. True environmentalists agree NO ACTION should be taken until the WHOLE environment has been properly assessed, and the effect of removing the human influence has been properly studied.

    Steve T however wants to close it off and make it a private playground for him and his mates.

  22. Sir, with respect, although I and I believe most other people on here would agree with you, if you added you name or at least some indication to your identity it would add credence to your post. I use my Christian name, the same as I use on the YBW forum and people like Steve Trewhella know my surname.

  23. Simply following the convention of anonymity practiced on most public Forums (or is it forae?) No problem - I am Jon, and have been a regular visitor to Studland on and off for over 35 years - first visiting it around 1973. I confess even to having regularly anchored there in my boat - when I could find a place clear of eel grass. I have to say that this is a great deal more difficult in recent years, because the Grass has now spread so much, a fact which Steve so strenuously denies.

  24. Hello Jon ! good to have you onboard're most welcome.

  25. It has been confirmed to me this evening that all seahorses do not need eelgrass. Short snouted seahorses can be found in most habitats.
    I had mistakenly thought the opposite, in mitigation the two subjects always seem to be mentioned together. The person who gave me this information was Steve Twehella so I feel confident that it is correct. He also encoraged me to put that fact on here.

  26. Conservation is partly about making money, so be in no doubt the ‘save the seahorse’ campaign is also a business opportunity. Maybe in the years ahead, we shall see a Disney-style ‘Seahorse World’ at Studland with Trewhella Tours charging holidaymakers for glass-bottomed boat trips to see the little creatures in an empty bay.

  27. Because of all the publicity surrounding the so called discovery of sea horses, who according to old time Studland residents have been here in the Bay as far back as they can remember. I worry that it is going to attract a large number of divers and swimmers with goggles. Indeed they are being invited to come and watch them. I would think this far more harmful than moorings. Wildlife on the whole, like to be left alone, not tagged watched and interfered with.

  28. Just incase readers of this Blog are not reading the many and extremely interesting comments on the scuttlebut blog herewith a copy of one. Posted by "Old Harry" on 27 Feb;
    And this is the whole point: Seahorse Trust has been in existence for ten years. They have received - according to the accounts submitted to the Charity Comission, just under £80,000 of public money in that time up to march 2009. Since then they appear to have received Heritage funding amounting to £35,000 or so in additon to donatioons amounting to at least a further £8,000 Apparently there are other major funding grants, but these have not been accounted to the Charity Commissioners in the Trust accounts. Be that as it may, after five years research in Studland Bay, their research has produced - NOTHING! No interim reports, no statistics, no analysis. Just a website with some pictures that could have been taken anywhere.

    When asked for evidence of damage the response seems to be 'we have seen it, we do not need to show you'. I have yet to see ANY proper analysis of the problems they say they perceive. Lets look at some of the things they are saying:

    'The Eel grass beds are being damaged' - yet any regular visitor can see that they are proliferating, and particularly in the last 3 years have expanded considerably.

    'We discovered the Seahorses in 2005' No they did not. They were pictured in the National Press as long ago as 1961. Fishermen have reported their own sitings in the early 60s on this forum. The Trust dismiss these reports as purely 'anecdotal' and without basis of fact.

    'The Seahorses are under threat from boating activities' but: 'We have seen unique courting rituals, and as many as 40 pregnant males' errrr? (pregnant males is apparently the way seahorses do it). Wild animals tend not to proliferate if their habitat is disturbed.

    'The Seagrass beds are now under threat from the boats anchoring in the bay' (current SHT publicity material) This activity has been going on for at least 60 years, and the number of visitors has not significantly increased - so what has changed? Before that it was a clam trawling ground, and during the war used for tank landing training and experiments(!)

    'Steve Trewhella is our project Officer for Studland. ... This was funded by an incredibly generous Heritage grant in May 2009' (SHT website) 'I am not employed by anyone' Steve Trewhella autumn 2009. So who is getting the £28,000 Heritage money?

    Ask for information, if you get any response at all it is to brush you aside - 'you do not know what you are talking about' Pursue it, they will start villifying you as a 'rich yottie', and accuse you of disinterest in conservation issues. Take it further and you become an anti eco monster responsible for all the pollution and ills of the world.

    It is increasingly obvious that these guys have their own agenda: that is to make of Studland their own private playground, and keep the rest of us out.

    I started with an open mind in this debate 2 years ago: Seahorse Trust has very firmly closed it - at least as far as their activities are concerned!
    If it aint broke - dont fix it

  29. I direct my comments to The Seahorse Trust and in particular to it’s Director and Chief Executive Officer, Neil Garrick Maidment.

    Steve Trewhella in his facebook page of 13th Feb last at 06.50 states, Quote:-

    “The Arsehole locals want to put the summer moorings back, we are trying to stop them”.

    In using language like this, it is evident that what should be a constructive dialogue, has deteriorated to a wholly unproductive, and unacceptable level, (showing Trewhella, in his own words, very clearly, for what he is).

    In your statement on this thread, Posted 24-02-10 at 15.16, Para 4, you say the following:-

    “I have to say I was being a bit flippant about Steve as I know him very well and work closley with him and for those that dont know the real Steve trewhella he is a passioante man about the environment. I was just trying to make the point that there is no such thing as the Seahorse Protection Society but there is The Seahorse trust.”

    Given your above stated close association with Trewhella, if you are to retain any credibility as a reasonable, respectable, and responsible organisation, you should, at the earliest opportunity, distance yourself and your organisation from his most offensive remarks, and make it clear that he does not represent or speak for you, or The Seahorse Trust. In absence of any declaration to this effect it must be assumed that you endorse his comments, and take full responsibility for them.

    I do hope he is no longer your accredited representative for Studland Bay.

    I am copying this to Mr John Weinburg, of Finding Sanctuary, in order that he can appreciate that we, the local residents, are understandably nervous at the prospect of having the future of our bay influenced (or Dictated) by what appears to be non other than a lunatic fringe.

  30. I've been a naughty boy ..I've mentioned that Steve Trewhella has a partner who charged £160 per day ..for 16 days for admin work to write up and produce the Public Engagement 2009 Report for the SSSSG.. which was funded with Public Money . As I mentioned her name on the forum Yachting Monthly Scuttlebutt I have now got myself a lifetime ban.... still I feel it was worth it !

  31. Correction ! the charge was £150 per day for 16 days and there were two working on this 27 page report so that comes to £4800 labour ... so that works out at a cost of £177.77p per page wonder the Public Finances are in so much debt.

  32. Brillant isn't it ? They can fund Beach Wardens to survey and protect the seagrass all summer but no one can provide a safety/rescue boat for humans using the bay.

  33. Probably because a RESCUE BOAT isn't ECO FRIENDLY and would need a mooring...The SEAHORSES come first...human life bottom of the list.

  34. I am the Dorset Liaison Officer for Finding Sanctuary and have been contacted by a number of members of the public who were mistakenly under the impression that some of the above articles were written or supported by us. This however is not the case, and whilst some of what has been said about the role of Finding Sanctuary is correct there are some less accurate parts all mixed in with personal opinions that have nothing to do with Finding Sanctuary whatsoever!

    Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act which became law in November 2009 there is a duty to create a coherent network of marine protected areas, (MPAs), around the UK. The network will consist of the existing MPAs plus a number of a new type of MPA called Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).

    There is a new and exciting process involving ecology, socio-economics and stakeholders for deciding where these MCZs should be. Each of the MCZs will be sited to protect different species and/or habitats. The types of activity that could be restricted at each MCZ will vary depending on what is being protected. Activities that cause no damage are unlikely to be restricted.

    In the South West the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Natural England (NE) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) have appointed Finding Sanctuary to run this process.

    Finding Sanctuary has established a steering group of 40 or so stakeholder representatives to agree on a network of MCZs to recommend to Government. The stakeholders represent the full range of sea users and include amongst others various types of commercial fishermen, offshore energy, conservation groups, crown estates, MOD, anglers, divers, ports, statutory bodies, leisure craft, charter-boats and scientists. There are also local groups in each county to contribute their local knowledge.

    The job of Finding Sanctuary is to support the decision making of the steering group. It is the steering group, not Finding Sanctuary, that decides on the network to recommend to government. One of the key elements of this support is the mapping of sea use activities so that, where possible, MCZs can be sited to minimise impacts on sea users, something that has not been done before. As part of the process we are keen to map the activities of as many stakeholders as we can. We can do this by interview or it is also possible to map your activities using our webGIS, a mapping and geographic information system on our website at:

    If you would like to get involved please do contact me or visit the website. (Details below) or e-mail at:

    There is a presentation on the role of Finding Sanctuary for members of the parish at Studland Village Hall on the 15th March at 7:00pm

    We have also organised a drop-in day in Poole to answer any question you might have. We will be there between 10am and 8pm on the 18th March at The Lifeboat College, West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HZ

  35. The Public Engagement Report for SSSSG produced by Julie Hatcher ( DWT warden at Kimmeridge ) gives details of the PR campaign, carried out late last summer, to promote Studland Bay as an area that needs protection because a few Seahorses have been seen in the Eel grass beds.
    The grant of £10,000 from Natural England, in my opinion, has been wasted. One of the main aims of the PR campaign was to promote the existence of The Voluntary No Anchor Zone (VNAZ). As there was no VNAZ (it was not in place till later in October) this aim was not achieved. The weather was bad and most of the summer had passed before the campaign started. The wrong people were targeted-families on the beach were not particularly intereted in VNAZs. A boat was used on one day to go and talk to yachts anchored in the Bay.

    Thosands of leaflets were produced many bundles easily seen unused in the N Trust kiosk. Notes left, on view in the same kiosk,from the 2 employed "beach boys" did not paint a picture of success.

    The Report which may be published here if Bloggers ask has been written solely to justify the expenditure of The grant of £10,000. Talk about " Beefing up The Dossier" I now see that somebody has discovered that The author paid herself £150 per day. Is this really true?

    The report finishes asking for a further £13,000 to cover the cost of trying to promote Seahorses, VNAZs etc on Studland Beach over the next 2 years.
    Surely this money could go to a worthwhile cause?

    The failed campaign last year was a complete waste of money.

  36. And so the cycle of corruption and misinformation grows.

    Steve Trewellha campaigns in some vicious class warfare attempt against rich yachties and arsehole locals so that his partner can charge £150 per day to type up a report on a failed campaign of such stupefying incompetence that surely those that agreed the grant should be subject to some investigation. Someone was incompetent here and given the public money involved it needs to be stopped.

    Given the General atmosphere going on here though - how can we be sure that the consultation is genuine and not just a smokescreen for the ban that Steve wants anyway. All the decision making panel seem to have vested interests in conservation and although others are down as stakeholders the rest of us seem to have the same rights as Turkeys in the run up to Christmas being consulted on our future.

    Is it not possible for this organisation to start raising funds so that we can start a legal challenge to ensure the opacity of the finding sanctuary / seahorse trust machine. I'm all for conservation if it is needed but I think we have to accept that this whole process is tainted by the actions of the seahorse extremists and we all need to be absolutly 100% certain that undue pressure / distortion hasn't affected any decision made re studland

  37. Just come off the phone to a second cousin of mine a very well respected Fisherman who grew up in Studland and lived here until the 1980s .. seems there were plenty of Seahorses in the Bay back as far as the 1940s. He will bare witness to that.

  38. Great Alex,a witness statement from someone who was catching Seahores back in the 1940s excellent ! While I'm here can I give a big WAVE and a BIG THANK YOU to all my supporters on yachting monthly's scuttlebutt forum ...after my lifetime ban a few days ago ..I speak the truth and nothing but the truth and it obviously hurt someone.

  39. Studland News recieved the following letterStudland Seagrass & Seahorse Project update
    In 2009 the Studland Seagrass & Seahorse Study Group set out to determine if the high level of boating activity at South Beach was impacting on the underwater habitat of the bay and to raise awareness of the importance of the area for marine wildlife. The Group includes Natural England, The National Trust, The Crown Estate, Dorset Wildlife Trust, The Seahorse Trust, The Royal Yachting Association, Poole yacht clubs, Studland Parish Council, Bournemouth and Southampton Universities and local businesses. Since then there has been a lot of media interest especially about the breeding population of seahorses and they have featured on TV and in local press.

    Beach wardens were present every day during July and August to carry out a questionnaire survey, monitor boat numbers and talk to people about the seahorses and other wildlife. Their findings showed that over 68% of people questioned were in favour of protecting the site from damage while less than 1% felt there was no need for any protection. On good weather days they found that boat numbers could reach over 150 (or even 200) at any one time during the afternoon and with boats continuously coming and going the total number of boats anchoring and mooring in a single day may be over 300. The wardens found that visitors to Studland were delighted to find that seahorses lived just a few yards from the beach and they often had a queue of people waiting to talk to them and ask questions.

    Also during the summer The Seahorse Trust, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and under licence from Natural England, carried out the first stage of a seahorse tagging project, using a method that has been tried and tested abroad and found to have no adverse impact on the animals. The findings from this project showed that seahorses pair up and stay together during the breeding season which lasts until the winter storms and cold weather arrive. The males stay in a very small area, just a few yards square and this makes them especially vulnerable to damage of their small breeding patch.

    In October the voluntary no-anchor zone was installed, marked by 6 yellow buoys, and a Notice to Mariners was published to make boaters aware of its position.

    Also during the year, a leaflet has been produced to raise awareness of the high wildlife importance of the site, and a postcard printed to show boaters where the voluntary no-anchor zone is located. These have been widely distributed to yacht clubs in the area. Slideshow talks have been delivered to several boat clubs and a website created to disseminate information about the project. For more information visit

    Julie Hatcher
    Marine Awareness Officer
    Dorset Wildlife Trust

  40. john.weinberg said...

    >Under the Marine and Coastal Access Act which became law in November 2009 there is a duty to create a coherent network of marine protected areas, (MPAs), around the UK. The network will consist of the existing MPAs plus a number of a new type of MPA called Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs).<

    Can you please show us your directives verbatim as I can't believe such a one sided mandate could have been issued. If I read this correctly you will have to 'create a coherent network of marine protected areas' whether they exist or not.

    I think I will start a trust to protect dawn. If we are not careful and stop amateurs photographing the sunrise it might go away, then we will have lost a rare phenomenon... I am 40 and noticed the the sunrise about 30 years ago, we only see it rarely at this time of year so it must need protection. We will start on the West coast as this has the best sunrise views, a full ban on sunrise photography will cost the taxpayer a fortune, but make me a packet.

    Of course I am a self proclaimed professional, I will take photographs and video under licence, you can buy them from ......

  41. 30% of the British Coastline "HAS"to become MPA's according to the official mandate.
    With that in mind the Purbeck Coast has already got a protected area to the north (Poole Harbour) and Kimmeridge Bay which is a Marine Nature Reserve .
    Measuring from Wareham Quay right round the Purbeck Coast to Ringstead Bay it appears we already have 24 miles of protected marine areas along the whole of the Purbeck Coastline of only 60 miles . According to my calculation that is a whopping 40% !!! So if Studland Bay and Worbarrow Bay were added that would increase to nearly 50% !! NOW THATS NOT FAIR IS IT ? So I will nominate Kimmeridge Bay for a MPA on the MCS website as there is no mention of it there and also take this up with Purbeck Council.

  42. Somebody told me and I honestly can't remember who that the eel grass in Kimmeridge bay was in dieback mode. Perhaps this is due to the normal useage being changed. Isn't it a voluntary "no take" zone for fishermen, boats not encouraged and a divers playground? Perhaps somebody who knows whether or not this is true could post a comment. We don't want the same to happen to our thriving and healthy eelgrass beds in Studland Bay!

  43. That would certainly explain our current troubles then.

  44. Mark - a Resident11 March 2010 at 15:22

    Now aged in my mid 50s I have been most fortunate to have lived in Studland almost all of my life. My family have lived here for a few generations and some of my earliest memories are of the beaches and the knarled and weather beaten 'old boys' who frequented them. The stories I was bought up with did strain even a child's imagination. Sunken ships, cargoes of coal, the sea on fire, a colossal skate, a crashed Hurricane - subsequent research has proved most of them to be true. I am afraid to admit that the stories of the sea horses seemed awfully tame and as soon as I was able to go out with mask and snorkel it also proved the easiest to verify, circa 1962.
    As a kid I almost lived on the beach; Studland has always prided it's self as a safe and welcoming place and I was of a generation that roamed at will. Consequently I was able to explore and to discover for myself the many wonders that existed here about.
    The amount of time I have spent over the years in, on and under the waters off these beaches rowing, swimming, fishing and sailing with new friends met on their holidays is probably in part responsible for my present meagre existence.
    Yes - there are sea horses in the bay and there are also an astounding amount of other fascinating things to be seen under the water; you should go and look, you will be amazed.
    Yes - the eel grass beds have waxed and waned over the years. If memory serves me aright the 60s were prolific, slight decline in the 70s, and a steady increase through the late 80s and 90s. In the last ten years the beds have become as large and extensive as I have ever seen them. Wish I had taken photos.
    I have no qualifications in Biology or Marine Ecology; I do however have the experience of a lifetime spent in close proximity to the area under discussion. My lack of qualification extends to the Tourist and Hospitality Industries but I have witnessed the rapidly increasing demands on the landbased infrastructure of the Village over the last 25 years and especially the beaches. This is a major concern to many visitors and not a small issue for the local population. There has also been an increase in the use of the sea; Studland is a safe and secure anchorage as it has always been. Wood and sail defer to GRP and power; inevitable but gentle change.
    In fact it is one of the first things that returning visitors comment upon - the slow change and recognisable, friendly character of Studland. It is a reputation earned over many many years, from the 1920s and 30s. Part of the charm is that it is an inclusive and diverse destination; it is somewhat out of the way and as such unable to accommodate sudden and transient themes. Studland is not a 'sudden and transient' sort of place.
    I have been fascinated to read all of the above postings - it reads like the first draft of a 'sudden and transient' novella. The zeitgeist of ecology warrior, media circus - primetime cute, money, emerging experts, books to be sold and a new cause to follow - it's all there.
    And I have to say, and not as a local person taking umbrage at indelicate remarks directed toward us, but as someone deeply connected to and affected by this area of discussion that I am saddened and dismayed by the extreme nature of these proposals.
    The local people, our most faithful visitors and local organisations hold this gem of a place in trust for the benefit of all. The Benefit of All. If any one particular group of users is to be permitted to hijack all the work that has gone into making this place as beautiful and accessible - for whatever cause I would assume that all reason had been abandoned.
    By all means let us welcome the ‘discovery’ of our seahorses and those who wish to see them. But when the circus and K. Humility have all moved on it would be nice to get back to doing what we do best and share all that is Studland with all who wish to participate.

  45. "over 68% of people questioned were in favour of protecting the site from damage while less than 1% felt there was no need for any protection."

    What had they been told, and what were they subsequently asked? What do the Seahorses need protection from - holidaymakers? I would agree 100% the site needs 'protecting from damage' but only if it was being dmaged in the first place.

    Holidaymakers are not generally well informed about local conditions, so does their opinion really count for much anyway?

    The basis of Seahorse Trust's arguments appears to be that the number of boats anchoring in the Bay are causing damage to the Eelgrass beds there.

    Even they now admit that Eel or Seagrass is not essential to Seahorse habitats, and Seahorses will live happily wherever there is a suitable food supply for them, such as Jersey marina. Not a Seagrass in sight there, I am told!

    Couple that with the fact that there is now clear evidence that Seagrass beds are at present growing, and as Mark has just pointed out, are now more extensive than at any time in the last 50 years or so, a view supported by past survey of the area. One has to ask just what it is that a) is being 'damaged' and b) needs the protection of an MCZ? As I have said before, the ecology of the Bay would seem already to be nicely in balance.

  46. The whole seahorse project just looks like a lot of self interested people making money out of it to me.Stop abusing the seahorses!

  47. Having read the comments printed on this site from people who have lived here for a lot longer than I have (forty years). I do sincerely hope that it has been acknowledged that the seahorses have been visiting the bay for several decades, and I hope that will be taken into account by those who decide it’s future. Most of us are in favour of conservation, but in this case, to take such drastic steps, and to spoil the enjoyment of so many, seems to be taking things too far. I do not view visiting yachts as “greedy people with large cheque books,” but as people out to spend a day in the fresh air with friends and family, most of whom have short periods of leisure and like most of us, lead stressful lives in the workplace. They have always been cheerful friendly folk who boost the village economy by having a drink at the pub, eating at the beach cafĂ© or stocking up with goods from the village shop. A lot of people who have holiday cottages in the area bring boats with them to use for recreation.
    I don’t think the seahorse project will make one jot of difference to the day trippers who come here in the summer. They come to use the beach not to watch marine life under the sea. I am not against the study of these little creatures, but please do think of all the implications of shutting off the south Bay which has worked very well for a long time, before turning it into a one horse race. - A Studland Resident

  48. For the boataing community the shutting of the bay does have more serious implications. It is the sheltered corner of the bay which forms an important passage anchorage, and is the only place of safety for small boats in Bournemouth Bay in bad weather. Closing off the anchorage will therefore have serious implications for yachtsmen, which could quite conceivably be life threatening, as well as closing one of the most popular destinations for day sailors on this coast outside the Solent.

    We all know that yachts and other boats have used the bay for the last 50 years. The seagrass beds are clearly thriving, and Seahorse Trusts own observations show the Seahorse colony to be breeding and apparently also doing well. I have asked both Steve Trewhella, and Neil Garrick-Maidement what is happening to cause them so much concern now. Other than saying they have seen damage done to the grass beds in the form of areas clear of grass which they assume is caused by anchoring, they can or will not produce any quantifiable information. In the 35 years I have been visitng the bay, the SeaGrass has always grown in patches. There is no evidence that the 'damage' they claim to have seen is not the normal pattern of growth in the bay - in fact rather the opposite. Thats the way oit always has been all the time I have been there, and the beds as we have seen are proliferating quite vigorously.

  49. Thats it Jon there always have been patches in the seagrass as far as I have witnessed going back to 1965 ...The patches where the seagrass didn't grow were always areas of coarse harder sand.Its an expensive wild goose chase thats causing a lot of upset to a great number of people.

  50. It's a pity that there is no comment from Seahorse Trust(SHT) on the important issues raised in the above comments. No news from them either about Seahorses and what the Seahorse Trust has discovered in their extensive research. SHT always say their "Database" will produce interesting facts. Nothing yet and in these columns and Scuttlebutt blog SHT seems only to deny some of the interesting media reports...
    Recently The Echo has carried stories about 2 Seahorses washed up dead at Middle beach, Studland and Hamworthy,Poole. There was also one found a few days ago alive(just) near Weymouth.
    These early visitors probably lifted up from their winter habitat a little early. The strong spring tides on the last full moon brought them inshore where the waters are still very cold and so some have perished.
    It's interesting to me that there should be so many in Poole harbour. Ofcourse the Seahorses shown on "Autumn watch" programme were filmed off Brownsea Island not Studland. SHT have said there are lots in Poole harbour so I'm wondering if SHT might not "shift ground" to the populated waters off Brownsea Island.
    The yachting/boating fraternity is now well informed about the absurd proposals to ban anchoring and Mooring from Studland and are voicing their opinions loud and clear on the websites.
    Perhaps SHT would like to comment?

  51. "Perhaps SHT would like to comment?"
    I wish they would, with factual information to back their claims, not just throwaway lines like: "we have seen it, its happening" Unfortunately, as elsewhere, as soon as people start questioning and asking for more information they come back with the kind of comment Steve T makes earlier in this blog: "It looks like the ministry of misinformation has been busy again.
    There is no proof that the eelgrass bed is expanding."

    When often knowledgeable people come back questioning such sweeping statements, they seem to run away and refuse to talk to us any more. Steve was contributing here earlier on - but where is he now? There is a lot of first hand, non-anecdotal information on these pages about Studland which really needs to be taken on board buy anyone doing or trying to do a serious study of the bay.

    The failure to follow 'live' historical information, and refusal to admit there might be another point of view seems to confirm the SHT have their own private agenda which will be forced through regardless of the facts presented by rich uncaring yotties and 'a***hole local villagers'

  52. The Bournemouth Echo,last week reported that the Seahorse Tagging Project in Studland Bay has managed to tagg only 5 Seahorses so far, since they started last year.
    Assuming they are using the £41k lottery grant to finance this over two years thats £4000 per Seahorse if they continue their current track record for tagging this year.
    So if Studland Bay has (according to the Echo) the highest density of Seahorses in the world ???? this is a very poor result.... or were there fewer than the alleged 40 ???
    Hopefully this will all become clear in the Seahorse Trust's imminent report on the Studland Project.

  53. Confound those Studland seahorse murderers!! Those poor cuddly pregnant seahorses who never did no-one no harm....

    I think I'm going to give up my day job and commission myself to write a report for the Gay Whales against The Nazis Party. Easy money! Ask a few people on the beach "Do you want to protect Seahorses or smash them with chains and anchors?" and Bob's your uncle!

    I might even be able to afford a yacht after that, and could then drop anchor in er... Studland Bay!

    Seriously, who are these people? If the Seahorses are there AFTER all this activity, then doesn't that tell us something?

    Maybe there are some rare limpets only found in Studland Bay too.... Hmmm, that's given me an idea for another few quid of government money. I might even have to buy a house in Studland with the proceeds...

    Chin chin!

  54. Why do extremists always say that if you don't agree whole heartedly with them you are ignorant?
    This debate has caused a lot of people a lot of grief.
    I first encountered this debate on and the arguments put forward by the Sea Horse Trust and Steve T are lame and extremely biased, he (Steve) has stated several times that the surveys will show what he knows to be the truth.
    That is not how a truly unbiased survey or scientific study is carried out, a hypothesis is formed and the results are correlated then THE FACTS are what they are, not what you want them to be. If you start out with a specific end in mind it will be reached, this is not research or science this is bolstering your own opinion.
    Why are the SHT so anti boats and yachts? if the present conditions are conducive to a proliferation of Sea Horses why change a thing?
    The old adage "if ain't broke don't fix it" comes to mind.
    Every time humans have made a conscious decision to alter some thing the repercussions are always far greater than any small amount of thought could foresee
    There have been pictures claiming to show human excrement from a boater found on the sea floor, if you know any thing at all about even the most rudimentary sea toilet on a boat, the device will smash any solids put into it as it is washed over board(not that I condone not using holding tanks) so this piece of "evidence " is a fraudulent attempt to show how bad boaters are. No mention was made of any possible other source.
    This one attempt at deception has lost any creditability that the SHT had with me and seems to show a level to which no public or government funded bodies should be allowed to stoup!

  55. Still no comment from the Divers who form the so called SHT. A handful of divers were seen in The Bay yesterday enjoying themselves like so many more will do in the coming months boating, water skiing,fishing etc.
    Perhaps the Divers are waiting for the promised press release they mentioned a few months back. We are intrigued to know what there latest "amazing discovery" will be...? Let me pre-empt this by suggesting a few every year occurrences which they may claim to have discovered. Could it be the fact that Dogfish or shall I call them Rock Salmon (sounds better) will have been in by now to spawn. Or could it be that A Cuttle fish has been seen-a pregnant one at that! Cuttle fish come into the Bay at this time to spawn every year. We also get s few Lumpsucker fish showing their wonderful colours.
    For more details of these species have a look on The web or in a reference book.
    I thought I would just mention a few of these natural every year occurrencies which happen all along the South Coast. Studland Bay is not the only place for these fish to spawn.
    These species move on the tides and currents and the density of fish arriving depends on the flow at the time.
    I think the same applies to Seahorses. I doubt whether they necessarily return to their previous summer waters. It will be interesting to see if the 5 tagged Seahorses return to Studland. Perhaps they've perished or been eaten by Bass...? A collar must be a great hindrance when avoiding predators and Divers!

    So maybe you'll hear something from SHT soon...?

  56. Like on the YBW forums, a lot of us have been able to express publically through this Blog our feelings about SHT and their avowed intent to ban all recreational activity from Studland Bay. (quote Steve T: " WILL happen")

    However good it may make us feel expressing ourselves on line, nobody except us will take much notice unless the 'voice' of SBPA is heard in the right places.

    I hope many of us have contacted John Weinberger individually, as invited, but can SBPA not get itself together to present a larger 'corporate' voice? If other organisations come in presenting a more balanced view of the bay than that set out by SHT, then maybe we can swing the outcome to something more favourable for all concerned. If SBPA does not yet have such a 'voice' then where do we go from here?

  57. Be useful if someone who went to the meeting on March 15th could give us a summary of what happened. Especially for those of us planning to attend the Poole drop-in day tomorrow.

  58. The Finding Sanctuary Presentation was very useful and I recommend everyone who uses the Dorset Coast to go along to the meeting at Poole.
    On a separate matter the next SSSSG meeting has now been put off until April but there only seems to be a few people going.
    Is this because people have now decided its a waste of time and money?

  59. On the SSSSG webpage you can view the VNAZ postcard they were giving out last year to boats in Studland Bay.
    Very nice aerial photo of the South Bay and extensive seagrass beds. Does the seagrass look under threat to anyone ? Compare this postcard with the Survey done in 1991 which can be found on the Scuttlebut forum and you'll see how the seagrass has spread and extended itself.
    I rest my case me Lord .

  60. Where can we find out the date and time of the next SSSG meeting?

  61. Has anyone else seen the latest advert on TV for the Sony Panoramic Camera ?
    There is a beach scene where a diver gets up infront of the camera and spoils the moment for hundreds of people in the shot.
    Where did they get that idea ?

  62. The next SSSSG meeting is scheduled to be held on 19th April at 10.00am in the Studland Village Hall.
    Members of the Seahorse trust have stated that they will not attend if the meeting is held in studland.

  63. I ain't saying nothing until I've seen my brief.

  64. Is the SSSSSSSG meeting open to anyone?

  65. Sorry thats not for anyone on this blog to decide. You should contact Dorset Wildlife Trust.

  66. If anyone is having trouble posting comments on this blog here's how to do it :
    1/ At the end of the blog there is a white box for posting your comment. Write your thoughts in here and press the arrow below to select the profile(name) you want to use . Most people use NAME/ULR or Anonymous .
    So enter you user name ie "Hesnuts" and then press continue.
    2/ Press the Box " Post comment".
    3/ normally it will come up in red letters that your posting was not successful so press post comment again and you will be given a security message to enter then post again .
    Your message should now be on the blog for all to read.

  67. Well blow me down , just as I posted the last advice its been changed so instead of getting a Red Warning you now go straight to the Security Message .I'll go and finish my lunch hour and mind my own business .

  68. At low water tonight there appeared to be quite a build up of sand out from the beach to the spring low water mark.
    The frequent strong NE'ly has done the beach good over the winter months for a change.

  69. Yes I agree. Much more sand than usual. Perhaps it's come from the recharged beaches at Sandbanks. The Southerly and SE winds have been bringing quite a load of sand round from Swanage the last couple of years since Swanage was recharged. This has caused the Shoal or "shoaling out" of the Bay.The depth of water further out has decreased and probably now at the optimum depth for the eelgrass beds. I hope it doesn't get any shallower as the eelgrass will die back...

  70. The MCA have recently issued a report on MEDICAL PROBLEMS WHEN DIVING which also mentions a problem that can occur when swimming and snorkelling. I suggest anyone using the bay this Summer has a read of this at under Newsroom Release No 80/10

  71. Attended my first SSSSG Meeting Yesterday at Parkstone Yacht Club.Quite a useful 3 hour meeting although the SEAHORSE TRUST or any of their Agents did not attend.
    I still think that certain charities are being very biased about alleged anchor damage in Studland Bay even though there is little or no independent proof at the moment and this suggests Studlanders and Users of the bay are getting a very raw unbalanced deal which needs to be reviewed asap.

  72. You might find that the BIG PLAN is for the bay to become a Dorset Marine Wildlife Trust Site as Kimmeridge has . It started last year with their new"survey wardens" and tent on the South Beach. Taking photo's and reports of locals laying temp moorings..
    Whats next for this year? Big DWT sign's everywhere , patrol boats?
    All carryed out under the cunning disguise of the SSSSG which claims to be impartial???
    I agree boating and local people are being ignored !!
    Its a dam disgrace that this is being paid for with tax payers money.

  73. Frank at the SSSSG Meeting I noted that the Crown Estate ,Natural England,MFA were very professional and impartial.
    Thank heavens they are on the Forum!
    I did bring up the fact that I considered the £9500 Public Awareness 2009 Survey and 27 page report was a complete waste of time and Public Funds.
    Were Studland Residents given the chance to air their views in this survey ? No and we know why because 80% would have said leave the bay alone.

  74. Inspector Gadget24 April 2010 at 05:20

    The ssssg website is very biased towards turning the bay into a Marine Nature Reserve irespective of what the official survey outcome is. The latest I have been told is that there is no sign of anchor damage and removing the existing moorings could be an offence under the Wildlife Act as their weed growth around the ropes and buoys provides a haven for Seahorses.Isn't this the reason they can be found in many similar locations where boat moorings are ?Poole Harbour, Jersey Marina , Portland Harbour,Dartmouth, Salcombe, Plymouth,Falmouth,Southampton Water,Brighton Marina Littlehampton, Selsey Bill, Cowes.
    Its a waste of taxpayers money ,a waste of time and a complete distortion of the truth to con the public.
    I shall be attending the next SSSSG meeting to find out the truth behind this so called "conservation project"

  75. Yes,I agree with Gadget. Seahorses seem to like boats and moorings. Studland with it's rich eelgrass beds around the moorings is so good they even breed there! The so called Conservation Project is not about conservation it's about money.All the "Agencies" Natural England, Crown Estates, Dorset Wildlife Trust etc are all trying to stake their claim to be part of the so called "management plan" for the seas around UK. Studland bay has a great deal to offer the so called bottom line-Money. The Seahorse trust with it's nucleus of a few divers is hellbent on proving that anchoring and mooring is harmful to one of the Seahorse habitats-eelgrass. This is refuted by most and Natural England and Crown Estates have initiated the 2 year comparison Survey between a Voluntary no anchor zone and a Control zone where yachts do anchor.The result of this Survey will not be known till late 2011.

  76. I agree with Nick.

  77. Look out for the ITV's "ALL AT SEA" series on ITV1 9.00 pm om Thursdays. Looking at the trailer for next weeks 20/5/10 it would appear that they are anchoring in Studland Bay !! nice one.
    Also take note that from 31/05/10 Springwatch and Simon King will be filming in Dorset for a couple of weeks . Will they venture into Studland Bay again or avoid us and the subject of Seahorses/Seagrass etc ??

  78. The cost of the whole Studland Seahorse/Seagrass project including the laying of 200 eco friendly moorings is yet another area where the new UK Goverment could save a fortune if they scraped the whole thing and left Studland Bay as it is .
    The moorings are approx £1200 each including laying = £240,000 ,3 years of public awareness surveys = £27,000 , Various government funded surveys = £150,000 , Lottery Grant £43,000 plus the share of the cost of The Finding Sanctuary Project ? Its way past the £500,000 !
    Can the UK afford this kind of waste ? NO WE CAN'T Best redirect it into the health service. The seahorses have already been provided with a £3,000,000 Surf Reef habitat of Boscombe.

  79. Hello everyone. I met a lovely local gentlemen today called Nick (Hello) with whom I had a long chat about the current divide between local residents and The Seahorse Trust (with whom I am a volunteer diver). Unfortunately this divide has resulted from some unpleasant comments, made by a few people on both sides, which has then led to rumours and suspicion. In order for Studland bay to be managed effectively both the Trust and the local residents need to work together. Nick spoke of how the local residents feel that they are not consulted and would like more information. Therefore would the Studland Bay Preservation Society be interested in meeting up to try and resolve this unfortunate rift??

  80. Studland Bay does not need to be managed by anyone, its done alright by itself for thousands of years.What we'd all be very interested in is... How many Seahorses have been tagged this year ? How many of the five tagged last year have returned ?
    From the sounds of things MOTHER NATURE has already resolved the alleged Problem .

  81. Hello Becky
    In reply to your posting of 17 July. I will convey your thoughts and request at the next meeting of SBPA however the SHT have failed to come to the last 2 meetings of The SSSSG where these matters could have been discussed. You could be the intermediary but first we will want a number of questions answered by SHT. Two of these are posted above for a start! I will send you some more shortly.
    I would reiterate that there is no need for "Regulation" in The Bay. Funding for the studies by agencies such as Finding Sanctuary are being considered at this moment and one thing is for sure there will be no funding for enforcement of regulations which may be proposed after MCZ's are made law.
    It would be helpful if you can persuade SHT to come onto this Blog and tell us what is going on and what they want in the way of conservation measures.
    Unfortunately,as you say, there has been friction in the past. The key to this whole matter is that it is quite unreasonable for the few divers who form the nucleus of SHT to expect the many users of The Bay to clear off so that divers can study a few visiting Seahorses in the summer months. SHT will no doubt be adamant that this is not the case..? Well perhaps you could let us all know what SHT want and we will respond.
    Best wishes

  82. Hello Nick, thankyou for your response. I think that communications with SHT may have failed somewhere as they are very keen to talk the SBPS so I'm unsure as to why noone has turned up at your meetings - I'll chase this up.
    I am quite happy to be an intermediary however a meeting, I feel, would be a much more effective way of answering any questions you have and would clarify the aims of the SHT as I think that written words can be read in many different ways. As I had mentioned to you before the SHT do not expect other users to clear off during the summer, in fact they support multi-use of the site. Please remember that the choice words of some individuals, who are no longer involved with the SHT, do not reflect those of the SHT and those involved with them. Also, I have read many posts made by the SHT previously and this has not clarified matters despite Neil being quite clear about the intentions of the SHT.
    Is the SBPA open to a meeting where matters can be talked about in an open but calm manner (such as the talk we had on Saturday)? If you pass on any further questions I will keep a record to ensure that all is addressed.
    I really do hope that we can move forward to resolve the friction soon.
    Kind regards

  83. If SHT want to discuss matters they should come to The SSSSG meetings. I presume you are aware of the existence of this group which is ably chaired by CE of DWT. The next meeting is in September. The SBPA would not be a good idea at present as it might increase the existing friction.
    I can't see why SHT can't come onto this Blog answer some questions and tell us what conservation measures they would like. We are constantly reminded of the word "transparency" and I can't see what there is to hide about Seahorses. We are all interested in Seahorses and all Conservationists at heart. So lets have some feed back otherwise Residents and others will continue to think it's all a bit of a scam.


  84. Beccy, you ask us to ignore the "choice words of some individuals, who are no longer involved with the SHT, do not reflect those of the SHT and those involved with them" The main culprit is Steve Trewhella referring to 'a***hole locals" and 'uncaring' rich yotties. See my earlier posts above. He has made it abundantly clear he wants us all banned from using the bay - "... it will happen" he says. Is he no longer with SHT? If so he seems unaware of it in todays Daily Mail where he is quoted as "Steve Trewalla of the Seahorse Trust".

    I suggest as you enter this debate you acquaint yourself with the arguments both here and elsewhere, as the level of disinformation propounded by SHT has driven many of us to conclude they have their own agenda.

    I recently visited Studland for the first time this year. Although I knew abotu the VNAZ, I had the greatest difficuklty in identifying where it actually is. there are upward of a dozen yellow buoys in the area. I eventually found one, witha faded lable on top of it. the printed message was illegible from more than around half a boats length away. Being on top of the buoy it was not visible on approaching the buoy. Small wonder the zone is not being observed - it really is hard to find it ecven when you know what you are looking for!

  85. You know what they say "Once SHT, always SHT " Its just a great shame boaters assume the SHT are responsible for the VNAZ and treat it with the contempt they think it deserves.( After a couple of years of Trewhella Press Releases)
    Really it is in boaters interest to observe the VNAZ for the next two or three years as the odds are it will prove that the SHT are wrong about the decline in the Seagrass . You won't find the locals anchoring in it for that reason.
    So support your local VNAZ and together we can keep STUDLAND BAY free for all to enjoy.

  86. EXACTLY! But unless boaters KNOW it is there, and it is clearly marked - which it is not - then the whole exercise is pointless. I know perfectly well how the VNAZ came to be set up, and who by, and am all for any research that will get to the truth of the matter. I do not believe boating activity damages the seagrass beds in the way claimed, and believe the VNAZ would go a long way to proving this point.

    But the VNAZ will fail as it stands. It is just not visible to visitors even if they are looking out for it. 5 small buoys, indistinguishable in size, colour and shape, from the many other mooring buoys in the bay - how are visitors supposed to know what and where it is?

    You will not 'keep people off the grass' if you dont make it clear which bit you want them to avoid.

    And what excellent ammunition the failure of the experiment will provide for those who wish to close the bay to boaters! "Yes we set up a VNAZ, but most boaters ignored it.... so we really must exclude them altogether from the Bay"

  87. Find this morning that it is proposed the buoys are to be replaced with more distinctive pillar shaped ones, for the very reasons I give.

    Thank goodness. That gives the project a chance.

  88. Charles Robinson22 July 2010 at 10:00

    I have been a frequent visitor to Studland in my yacht over the years and have been on a mooring for a number of weekends this year. Fortunately I take Fridays off to make a long weekend if the weather is good. I have noticed the Divers in the bay and it interests me why they seem to dive and snorkel presumably looking for seahorses around the moorings and the boats at anchor.I have read articles and blogs on Seahorses and it strikes me that there must be some connection between boats,moorings and seahorses. Somebody wrote that the seagrass is healthiest in the moorings area and that seahorses like the presence of boats. Can it be that they pick up morsels of food and enjoy the shade from the boats? Maybe they like swimming in the area where the anchor chain goes into the sand where we are told scouring takes place. When onshore one day I spoke to a diver who said Seahorses were often to be found along the edges of the seagrass beds.
    Anyway just a few suggestions. If these theories are untrue why don't the divers go to an area where the boats don't moor and anchor..?

  89. Seastar were in the Bay today taking photos etc of their new Pillar Marker Buoys for the VNAZ .
    The bay was quiet and no boats seen to be anchoring within the survey area.
    That Candy Floss Weed thats choking the Seagrass is very tough stuff its like cotton fibre and I have never seen it as bad as that before.

  90. From the latest on the Motor Boat website 19/07/10 these latest VNAZ Pillar Marker Buoys are secured with the new ECO CORKSCREW MOORINGS which are designed to withstand "Hurricane Conditions" think I prefer to stick with the tried and tested fathom of old ferry chain that buries itself about a foot down in the sand and then the seagrass grows above it without any problem.
    I hope these markers do stay in place now and the yachties observe and understand the reason for this restricted research area.

  91. Hello everyone,

    I thought I should make a contribution as there are many misinformed comments on the site and facts that need stating.

    Firstly just a quick answer to Alex's comment above, sadly the ferry chain does not bury itself a foot down and the seagrass grows over it. I will be posting some pictures on the trusts website over the next few days which shows this and the damage that occurs because of the chain. (

    I will reiterate once again that here at the trust we feel that the VNAZ is a complete waste of time and money. A primary school child would be able to dismiss the science being used due to the lack of continuity and the fact the VNAZ has moved so many times and many other important factors. We have already notified the authorities of our worries and they are aware of the problems and the limited aspect of
    the survey.
    There is in fact a much more indepth study going on on the site run by the National Oceanography Centre at Southampton University. This survey has been running for many years and has accumulated a huge quantity of data about the damage occurring on the seabed. Their data is being collated and at the right time it will be released. I have been privy to some of this data and it shows without doubt that the seagrass bed is deteriorating at an alarming rate and unless something is done it
    will be ruined completely. None of us want that so we should work together to make things change we ultimately all want the same thing, Studland Bay to survive.
    continued below....

  92. Over the years we have spoken with many of the older families who have been at Studland for many generations and it is interesting to hear
    what they say. According to most of these families the seagrass bed has indeed shrunk from 20 to 25 years ago. Like many seagrass meadows the bed will move over time as has been seen this year where there is a strip of seagrass forming closer to shore (with a sand patch behind it). This is a natural process and should not be confused with the seagrass meadow expanding or shrinking. When you look at the seagrass meadow as a whole the areas that are damaged are getting bigger and more widly spread (and slowly joining up). It would
    be fantastic if the change in shape was to solve the problem but ultimately it will not. In a few years time the shape will change
    again, it is a living entity and as such will change according to tides and silt and sand movement, ultimately the damage is still increasing and we all need to do something positively about it.

    We have from day one advocated that the existing moorings be replaced with Environmentally Friendly Moorings and in fact if we increased the number of moorings and asked people to moor to those and not anchor
    this will sort the problem out at a stroke, problem solved. We have a huge amount of support for this from the boating community who we talk to extensively, in fact most wonder why this has not been done already.
    This way the boating community can still use the site, the local businesses benefit from the visitors and more importantly the environment is not damaged. The new EFM's being used on the VNAZ are down to lobbying by The Seahorse Trust who argued from the beginning that these should be put in, 18 months later is not bad I suppose!!.
    At present the seagrass is being destroyed by the sheer number of anchors being used. Imagine if you had a pristine lawn and you dug
    hundreds of holes into it, it would soon fall apart; this is what is happening at Studland this is why we suggest for the use of EFM's and
    ask people not to anchor. By doing this everybody can still use the site, as they should be allowed to, it is a multiuse site where swimmers,divers, snorkellers and boat users should all be able to come together and enjoy the site.
    I know some of you have moorings at Studland and there is a difference in opinion between yourselves and Crown Estates as to the legality of these moorings, I will not enter this debate but surely if we all work together to have EFM's put in and have it regulated properly then those limited numbers of you who do maintain your moorings will be joined by
    all the other EFM moorings that will be maintained and this would put pressure on those that do not maintain their moorings to fall in line.

    Continued below....

  93. On this note can I appeal to those few boat users who think it is fun to 'scare' divers by motoring over them or deliberately reversing over them to not to. It is dangerous and somebody is going to get seriously hurt. We have notified the authorities and if a diver is hurt it is going to treated as premeditated.
    On this note if you see divers without marker buoys then give them an earful, all trust divers and surveyors have to have the appropriate diver marker bouys with flags or the orange 'sausage' style of SMB's those serious knowledgeable boat owners amongst you will know what these are.

    With regard to the Seahorses just liking the edges of the seagrass I am sorry but you are completely wrong, the evidence we have gathered over the last few years (in particular this year) proves otherwise, we are finding
    Seahorses all over the seagrass bed, some near moorings others nowhere near them. What dictates where they live is the habitat and food supply, coupled with availability of partners. They live within the seagrass as well as on the edge. Shaded areas are no good for seahorses as this reduces the light level to the seagrass which will ultimately reduce the density of the seagrass, leading to loss.
    I know a number of you have questions as to how many and which seahorses we have seen. Last year we saw 9 Seahorses and tagged 5 and
    this year we have seen 22 seahorses so far and tagged five (we are strictly governed as to which animals we can or cannot tag) There have
    also been 9 dead seahorses washed up in this and surrounding areas due to being killed by illegal clammers. So far this year none of last
    years tagged adults have turned up. Part of the reason for this is the Seahorses have been very late coming in this year due to the strange
    weather this winter passed. Bear this in mind to several years ago when we found 40 seahorses in one year!!

    Continued below....

  94. Seastar (the Crown Estate and Natural England contractors)is on the site every single day taking pictures of the VNAZ, just go up onto the cliff and you will find their students on the cliff side of the safety barrier (risking there lives) taking pictures every 15 minutes for 3 hours a day and 6 hours on Saturday. Not sure who worked out this timing but another reason why the project should be dismissed as anybody who knows the boat movements will know. I will emphasise we are not a part of this survey and dismiss it as nonsense.

    The blanket weed that is suffocating the seagrass is as a result of the sewage spill a few weeks ago from the toilets up the lane from Joes cafe. It flushed down the stream beside Joes cafe and out into the bay. It is the same principal as blanket weed in a badly maintained pond.

    I know you will probably not agree but Studland is definitely 100% going to become a protected site in the long term, there are too many reasons for it too and the relevant conservation bodies, who make these decisions, already have fixed views on the site but I can assure you that it does not mean boats being banned. What it does mean is a stakeholder group of interested parties will be formed to make sure the site is managed in a sustainable way and for the long term. At present there is not a single group whose esponsibility it is to ensure the future of the site. By all working together and for interested parties to come together on the stakeholder group then everyone will be represented and the site will be preserved for the future.

    Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNS
    Executive Director
    The Seahorse Trust

  95. Well Neil you show us some nice photographs of old ferry chain size mooring chain in Studland Bay against a white ruler so we can verify its size and diameter . Will it be resting on the seabed,not buried in the silt or the fine sand ?
    Give us some credit man,we do know a bit more about the workings of the bay after all these years and I'm sure none of the OLD FAMILIES of the village would have talked to you considering the way you have walked into village acting KING OF THE JUNGLE.

  96. Neil, what a load of complete rubbish. You say you have talked to locals who claim the seagrass has shrunk, but you have consistently dismissed other locals who claim it has increased.
    What use is a few environmental moorings when there are 200 boats in the bay? What are you going to do? Put up a barrier and restrict the bay to the first 30 boats?
    You say, "but Studland is definitely 100% going to become a protected site in the long term" so he decision has already been made before the so called data and research is complete. That's very Nu Labour.
    How can the blanket weed be blames on sewage? Blanket weed is all along the coast and I find it difficult to believe that the tides do not scrub the bay clean at least twice a day.
    Have you any evidence that boaters are deliberately scaring divers by running over them? Probably more to do with all the divers attracted by your publicity who are unsupervised and to many an orange buoy is just an orange buoy and is not exclusive to divers.
    Finally, who are these boaters, “We have a huge amount of support for this from the boating community who we talk to extensively.”
    Sorry, but I only just finished laughing at that statement.

  97. George Armstrong Custer3 August 2010 at 13:45

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Alas I know what this man is going through , I felt it too at Littlebighorn in 1876.

  98. I am just astonished at the irresponsibility of the Trust allowing its divers to operate in such a busy area without surface support to protect them. Yes someone will get hurt, and yes it will be a tragedy, and no it will not be deliberate. Other divers observing what is going on at weekends are expressing grave concern at the real dangers of operating in such a crowded area, and would regard it as excessively dangerous even if surface support boats were present.

    As for the 'authorities treating any such accident as premeditated' - RUBBISH! There are only two bodies who have jurisdiction here: the Police, and the MCA. Both bodies approach accident investigations with a high degree of professionalism and impartiality.

    If SHT chooses to expose its divers to such grave danger, then it must be prepared to accept the consequences. To my way of thinking the scenario is similar to letting junior school children do a nature study on the central reservation of the M25 unsupervised, and saying it will be the car drivers 'premeditated' fault when there is an accident.

  99. Dear All
    The only way to save???? the sea horses is to stop MSH bring them in at night in his grey rib. All of you seem to forget that MSH breeds 3000 a year and has been doing so for years.Makes mockery of him saying that are breeding in the bay there are more under Swanage old peir try making that a boat free zone HMMMM the hole thing is just a scamm to make money taking divers out.

  100. In response to the 4 postings by SHT above on 3 August. N G-M is quite entitled to his views and assumptions but many are wide of the mark on a number of points. I will expand on this later but first thankyou to him for giving us some facts about number of Seahorses seen and tagged. The figures do not correspond with SHT website covering Studland bay so presumably these figures refer to sightings and taggings along the South coast?
    I'm not surprised that none of the 5 tagged last year have been seen again. They have either perished or been taken by the tides and currents to other summer habitats.The tag must be a great impediment. I don't believe seahorses have a migratory route but we will see.
    The 9 dead seahorses are blamed on illegal clammers..There is no evidence to support this.
    Blanket weed in Studland bay is blamed on toilet overflow... rubbish! The weed is everywhere in surrounding areas and is due to high temperatures combined with agricultural runoff. Poole harbour is particularly affected.
    More to follow on Moorings/Anchors etc.

  101. Frankly speaking,I think its about time these seahorse people left Studland Bay well alone and tried to find another breeding site for both species where there is less human activity.
    If they won't then it indicates these individuals have got it in for the people and old fishing families of Studland, the mooring owners,the boaters and yachties.
    Why is Studland being targeted in this way ? We don't deserve this and its about time this farce is brought to a halt and the public and lottery money being wasted because of an individuals personal crusade/ego trip is finally stopped.

  102. In my opinion Crown Estates and Natural England have acted responsibly in organising and paying for the 2 year survey in VNAZ and corresponding area. Seastar Survey is well qualified to carry out an independant survey. It is unfortunate that some of earlier marker buoys moved. This hopefully has been rectified. The tone of SHT to decry and condemm responsible projects is sad. Findings of surveys done by NOC at Southampton university are likely to be biased towards un necessary conservation measures.
    All the above is due to accusations that anchoring is ruining the eelgrass beds. My theory on this is that the bare patches seen in the eelgrass beds are natural.They can be seen where boats never anchor. The fresh water runs from Watery and Gunstock lanes and from the chalk cliffs certainly show areas worse than others. So salinity of the water is a factor.
    The photos produced by SHT show anchors being hauled with eelgrass piled high. This is usually dead grass in late summer when the eelgrass moults or sheds it's leaves.The occasional root is dislodged but this quickly reroots elsewhere.
    So all this fuss about anchoring... I don't believe it! More on Moorings and eel grass later.

  103. Studland Country Fair is coming up , is there going to be a GREEN CANDY FLOSS stall ? It'll sell like hot cakes !

  104. French Brit 1224 August 2010 at 03:24

    I've not been on here before, but the comments from SHT recently have got the hairs on my back up.
    I live in Brittany and there are hundreds and thousands of seahorses everywhere along this coast. Studland Bay is not a unique site as these people make out and it looks to me like the users of the bay are being falsely accused and harassed for no apparent reason.
    You all need to get together,boat owners villagers etc and stop this lot getting away with it. Good Luck

  105. Steve Trewhella, now that he is away from SHT is now saying that Swanage Bay also has lots of Seahorses.

    Mad Frank is right, the SHT need to spend time establishing just how unique Studland really is. Even SHTs website shows they are to be found all round the coast. Surely they dont ALL come to Studland to breed?

  106. In reply to N G-M's comments above on moorings I would say that the current moorings are there to stay. My family has had one since 1937.The Right to moor will prevail.There are about 40 moorings at present and not all are in the eelgrass beds. There is certainly some scouring around the anchor weights but this adds up to a relatively small area when compared with the acres and acres of eelgrass beds in the bay. The idea of filling the bay with EFM's is not going to happen as nobody will pay £2000 approx for a mooring which is untried in local conditions. There is also the fact that visiting yachts/boats don't want to tie up to a mooring way out in the bay.The pleasure boats in particular want to come in close as can be seen today.
    There is nothing new about the moorings in Studland bay,most have been there for at least 25-30 years.It occurs to me that perhaps the seahorses rather like the pools scoured by the chains?
    So moorings..a lot of fuss about the scouring which is of no real significance when one considers the acres (shall I say it again?)of eelgrass beds.

  107. Dear all

    I am so pleased you reacted in the predicatble way that you did it was as I expected and I am so pleased you did not let me down Thank you.

    I am not bothering to go into individual comments as it will just start some of you off again and even if I took you to the site and presented the evidence to you, you would still deny it, so really there is really no point.

    I had hoped after reecent conversations between a Seahorse Trust member and one of your local people (I will keep his name quiet for his sake but he does contribute to this blog) that we might finally be getting somewhere with working togther, (not necessarily agreeing) how wrong I was, sadly there is still the same fixed views there always have. As a result of those conversations I put forward information I thought might have been of interest to you all, you might not agree but I put it forward as I know some of you had wanted the information.

    I will say though, The Seahorse Trust is going to be at Studland for many many years to come (we are even thinking of setting up an office there as the site is so important) and we will continue to do our research and when the site is nominated for protection which is going to happen then I will put our reseach into the pot to help put together a management protocol to preserve this site.

    I have suggested many times as I did at the beginning even though Natural England stopped it that the local people should be part of this managment group and I still feel that.

    I am not prepared to enter into e-mail ping pong with you and after this verbal and personal abuse I have recieved yet again (and you wonder why nobody will talk to you!!) then I will not enter into any more dialogue.
    Great shame as I really had hoped we were getting somewhere. oh well I shouldnt have hoped.

    Neil Garrick-Maidment
    Executive Director
    The Seahorse Trust

  108. Once again Sea Horse Trust sets up a meaningful and informative dialogue with people who see things differently....

  109. One Vision, One Dream ... and if you object you will be cast aside as insulting, selfish,abusive,money grabbing, sealife destroying thugs.

  110. An anonymous friend sent the information below to me. The question is whether it is sewage or agricultural run off ie.,fertiliser which has caused the Blanket weed in Studland Bay.

    "This blanket/hair weed is an opportunistic algae that can grow very quickly (bloom) in the right conditions - this being when there is a high proportion of organic nutrients such as nitrates in the seawater. The source of these nutrients can be from heavy rainfall washing fertilisers from the land or most likely sewage outflow. A number of scientific agencies and consultancies use these forms of algae as environmental indicators as they provide information on the health of the site - whether there is possile eutrophication. Unfortunately, as has been reported on local news stations, Countryfile (they did a piece at Lyme regis recently) and a range of magazines including Dive the EU objective regarding levels of faecal coliforms and treatment of sewage is not being met (which is worrying for everyone using the water). There should be no more than 100 faecal bacteria per 100ml and recently Combe Martin in Devon was reported to have 23,400 faecal bacteria in 100ml ( There are many combined sewer overflows (CSO's) along the south coast which are there for when the system cannot cope with loads, therefore once a level is reached everything above it empties, untreated, into the nearest river/sea. This is obviously a whole other problem that needs to be addressed. If you run a search on the BBC website or any reputable source there will be more information to support this."

    What do you think?

  111. I think Wessex Water and EA should do numerous water quality tests off the Dorset Coast where this Algae has been found .. as soon as possible.I've never seen it as bad as this before ..not even in the 1960s.

  112. Didn't they have problems with this in France ?
    I can remember seeing something about it was due to the high nitrate content from farming runoff caused by heavy ,sudden downpours on very dry land.
    I've certainly never known it grow in the Bay, and lets face it if the "old man" had got a few fleets of trammels full off it I'd have certainly remembered !

  113. If it hasn't been seen in the bay in living memory then the only probable cause is the fallout from the Volcanic Ash...simples creeeequeech !

  114. No I'm not joking , google the "make up of volcanic ash" and it will read "nitrates"and don't forget your own Prof Frank come up with it first.

  115. What is it that makes Mr Garrick-Maidment start a public debate, then run away crying 'not fair, you are all being horrid to me'

    Particularly when he makes provocative statements such as: "I know you will probably not agree but Studland is definitely 100% going to become a protected site in the long term," If he knows we will disagree, why does he then get upset when we do?

    Watch the House of Commons going at each other, (I hesitate to say 'at work') to see how public debate works.

    Follow such a comment with other propositions that are even more questionable - MAIB and Fuzz (sorry - police) will NEVER assume anything about an accident investigation for example until the facts start to emerge, so to claim any diver/boat accident will be regarded by authority as 'pre-meditated' only weakens his arguments further. He then follows up with claims about damage to the seagrass beds which fly in the face of what a lot of us are seeing with our own eyes. He may be right, but he needs to do just a little better than 'I have seen it, it IS happening'.

    I see the grass beds too, every time I go there. My boat is fitted with a sonar device which shows clearly the nature of the seabed below me. To date I have seen no evidence whatsoever to support the claim of large areas denuded of seagrass.

    And where is the evidence that Studland IS 'unique' and therefore important? Sea Horses according to SHT are to be found right round the UK coast. Is Studland the only UK breeding ground? Surely not.

    As it is, I see an area which has acheived a working ecological balance over the last 70 years of heavy human use, and which may well now be threatened by do-gooders wanting to effect a major change in that balance. Yet all their publicity says the ecology is 'now under threat'. What has changed?

    I dont expect to get any more coherent answers from the Sea Horse Brigade than I have seen over the last two or three years, but I wish there WAS some real evidence - one way or t'other.

    Trouble is, as soon as you ask questions, the other side just runs away refusing to play....

  116. Excellent points you've raised there Jon , could'nt agree more.
    As for MF's Volcanic Dust idea , then yes that would make perfect sense but how could you prove it given the recent sewage spill ?
    If this Green algae is the result of the dust fallout then the whole underwater vegetation in the bay could change with no seagrass at all and not much in the way of sea life either .

  117. The EA tests for Studland Bay, South Beach have come up Excellent throughout the summer and its is thought that the sewage leak had nothing to do with the presence of this Hair Algae..thats official.

  118. A Seahorse Trust 'office' in Studland? Is this really necessary or just another attempt to impose the SHT's high-handed views on others?

  119. Interesting thread on Scuttlebutt:

  120. In reply to SHTs self appointed "Executive Director" posting of 5 August. What a pity he's gone to ground again in a huff. As has been said on this Blog and the Scuttlebut blogs he really has no right to accuse "the locals" of ruining the eelgrass beds with their moorings, no right to accuse the "boaters" of doing the same with their anchors and so on. The eelgrass beds which we read have expanded and cover acres of the Bay are supporting a variety of marine life including Seahorses who summer with us.
    Speaking to some snorkelers the other day it is apparent that there have been very few sightings of Seahorse this year and those that have been seen are around the moorings/anchorage area. I read somewhere that there is a link between boats,moorings etc-perhaps this is why the divers are always seen around the boats?
    Does anyone have any further views on this?

  121. We are running our own experiment with an old mooring inshore of the seagrass beds. Its a length of old ferry chain and we've dug it out at low water and just rested it on the undisturbed silt nearby and we'll see how long it takes to sink below the surface and how far it goes down over a 6 month period. It is one of the 51 local moorings approved by the MMO.
    No doubt this will appear as a photo of damaging mooring chain on the Seahorse trust Website but it is well inshore of the Seagrass as was the first photo of their last posting which was of an anchor and chain attached to a boat.The boat owner has identified this anchor by the unique welding on the eye and is very concerned that divers have been adjusting his chain for the purpose of a photo shot.( The photo shows the chain is being held out above the weed by some diver out of shot).
    What has also been noted this year is when the tide goes out the sand flats are more like the surface of the moon rather than the normal ripple effect of the sand waves. There also appears to be water draining away to seaward in little streams under the first few inches of the top silt layer.
    A very long narrow sand spit was also observed off the middle beach at low water running from the normal low water mark out to the east for about 80 metres.

  122. BBC Sunday evening 22nd August 2010 COUNTRYFILE are doing a piece about Studland and Seahorses which ties in with the fact that film crews have been seen in the area in the last fortnight.

  123. Dear all,

    do you really wonder why I will not enter into conversation with you when you see the above comments, repsonses and personal attacks and abuse??
    I am more than happy to converse in a grown up and responsible way with anyone, I have offered to attend SBPA meetings to do a presentation but this has been turned down, I have offered to attend Studland Parish council meetings to do a presentation but this has been turned down, I will attend the next SSSG meeting as long as it does not fall on a date I have to attend hospital for my cancer check ups.
    I have tried to talk face to face with some of you but all I get is personal abuse. I do not abuse you and do not call you ever name under the sun.
    The diver community is being accused of so many things including 'holding the chain out of view' to take a picture what nonsense!! We do not need to do that. We have even recently been accused of cutting the rope on the VNAZ, again what nonsense, what would be the point??.
    This 'self appointed' Executive Director (I had to apply for my position like everyone would) does not need to do any of that rubbish and I am more than happy to have a sensible (even if we do not agree) conversation but I will not put up with a tirade of personal abuse against me and my colleagues.
    So if you want 'meaningful' discussion then treat me with the same respect I will treat you with and then we can talk.
    At the end of the day we all want the same thing the continuation of Studland Bay so that everyone can use it; we might not be approaching from the same direction but without working together it will not survive, this year has been the worst I've seen for mooring and anchor damage and natural degradtion.
    To the gentleman who uses his sonar I suggest he scans the areas near to the Bankes Arms moorings and he will see the large areas denuded by chains (we measured them at 60 feet across) , there are also larger areas further out, better still come out diving with us and I will show you first hand!!.
    Studland is a multiuse site for snorkellers, swimmers, boats users, jet skiers, salors and divers and it will continue so. I know some of you want it just for boats but sorry this is not going to happen.
    As I have said before Seahorse Trust divers have to use the correct marker buoys and if you see divers without them, then by all means give them earache they deserve it.
    I know one of your group recently made a complaint to HSE about the divers, sorry you didnt get anywhere because we are not breaking the law but can I ask you tell all the other boast users what a dive flag is!! It can be either blue and white or red with a white line on it and it means there are divers below and by law you have to avoid them.
    I am interested in your experiment with the anchor chain we might all learn something. I presume it is being done scientifically and you are using divers to measure the sinking of the chain with the correct measures, gps locations, quadrates, depth indicators etc ??.
    lets start again shall we?? If you want a proper discussion no more abuse, I dont have to put up with it and none of us will get anywhere if we do not discuse things correctly.
    I'll leave it up to you but the hand of discussion is out there if your prepared to take it, the choice is yours at the end of the day.

    Neil garrick-Maidmment
    Executive Director
    The Seahorse Trust

  124. Can someone explain the longterm affect of the Algae on the Studland Bay Seagrass and Seahorses please ?

  125. Well done Neil, and thank you for coming back. Firstly I think all of us would want to wish you well with your cancer check-ups.

    Can I set the ball rolling by asking your view on the suggestion that the ecology of the bay has developed a balance which includes the disruption of the grass beds by many many years of heavy seasonal use as an anchorage. My fear would be that by reducing or stopping that influence, the ecology may be quite radically altered - rather in the way that removing grazing cattle from open downland grass allows it to rapidly revert to scrub.

    Seahorses were being reported 60+ years ago, and the colony appears to have survived in spite of human influence, or maybe because of it. As you yourself have said repeatedly, little is known yet about Seahorses, surely there is strong argument for NOT changing a major factor in the environment at this stage until a lot more is known?

    Much of SHT's publicity claims the environment is 'now under threat' because of boat users. The bay has always been busy with leisure craft in the summer. I can remember seeing over 250 boats there in the mid 1970's - what has changed to cause damage now?

    Thank you for your invitation to dive with you - sadly medical considerations preclude taking you up on this, or I would be down there tomorrow. I have to content myself with using my sonar device, a good quality fishfinder - sadly it is not sensitive enough to identify anything as small as a Seahorse!

  126. Hi Jon and FB122,

    many thanks for your e-mails and Jon thank you for your best wishes, that is appreciated.
    Could I address FB122's comment first (I might have to reply in a couple of e-mails due to e-mail size restriction) The Blanket weed which is all around the coast and across the channel is in fact worse in areas where there is a heavy nitrate/nitrite content (due to sewage spills and farming activties leading to leeching into the water system) such as the sewage spill at Studland Bay, because a combination of the nutrients and the sun we had earlier on in the year are ideal conditions for the blanket weed to grow rapidly in.
    It grows in such profusion that it smothers the Seagrass, the best analogy for this is if you put carpet on a lawn and it dies off underneath. The same principal happens with the blanket weed lying on top of the seagrass, it turns white without sunlight.
    The negative long term effect of this and the degradation of an environment is that the food chain breaks down leading to a shortage of food items, ultimately leading to fewer species and numbers of species.
    We saw this in Portugal where there was a sudden rise in Seahorses because of an inblance of the food chain leading to large numbers of food items. When this became depleted as will always happen in a disrupted food chain, the Seahorses starved and became reduced in numbers.
    Boom and bust can be a natural phenomenon but if it is made worse by other effects then it becomes completely unstable.
    This instability had long term effects not just on the localised environment but the knock on effect further afield.
    If food chains breakdwon then the habiat these species live in will also break down because there is not the natural checks and balances in place.
    I will continue on another e-mail

    The Seahorse Trust

  127. HI Jon and FB122,

    sorry part two due to size of e-mail restriction on the blog.......

    Your point about the bay developing its own ecology is quite interesting and I would imagine to a very small degree is right (nature does adapt) but having seen the amount of degradation first hand as I dive (every week all year around) and having dived on pristine seagrass meadows in other areas I can clearly see the strain that Studland is put under each time there is a heavy use on it.(plus the amount of rubbish that is dumped onto the site)
    Yes it might keep partially recovering after each season BUT the strain is and will ultimately take its toll and it would only take something such as the naturally occuring wasting disease that periodically affects seagrass for it to become so unstable that the meadow will die off.
    The worry if this happens is the knock on effect such as beach erosion, the disappearance of a nursery area for commercial species and also the lack of habitat for the Seahorses and the various other species such as the breeding area for the Undulate Rays ( a BAP species).
    Seagrass is also a superb CO2 sink so in the battle against global warming Studland Bay is very important.
    Your question about what has changed over the years is interesting and I truly feel it is down to the types of boat users (not all I hasten to add) now using the site. Back in the 70's if you could afford a boat you tended to go into it fully, you attended courses, you read about how to use boats and the sea and you respected and understood the laws of the sea. Nowadays there are so many boat users out there (and you can see this every week at Studland) that do no have the first clue about how to use a boat and what the laws of the sea are (such as what a dive flag is and how to behave around divers). This inexperience and lack of knowledge has been brought about by the surplus of monies during Labours reign where a large number of people bought boats with cheap money and just went out onto the seas without the first clue about what they are doing. I regularly see 300 plus boats at Studland (we count them whenever we are there ) on a sunny day, quite a large number who are a risk to other boat users let alone everyone else who do not have a clue what to do when anchoring or even mooring. Some of their actions are quite terrifying for everyone (especially the speed they come into the bay and around children swimming on the site).
    The Seahorse Trusts stand has always been that the moorings should be replaced with Environmentally Friendly Moorings and even increase the numbers and enourage mooring to these and not to use anchors, we have never wanted the site to be removed of boats as we truly believe it is a multiuse site and as such everyone should have a right to use it and to jointly protect it for future generations; protection does not mean exclusion.
    One heartening thing I have seen this year is a sea change in the yachting community; we are often approached by yacht users (and a few boat users) who want to know how they can avoid doing damage to the seagrass, who want to know about the amazing marine life at Studland and who are prepared to be respectful to other sea users. It is a small but rapidly growing group who are prepared to work together to make a difference and I hope it continues.

    Jon sorry to hear about your medical conditions but if they ever get better you are more than welcome to dive with us.

    Hope this helps

    The Seahorse Trust

  128. HI Jon and FB122,

    sorry part two due to size of e-mail restriction on the blog.......

    Your point about the bay developing its own ecology is quite interesting and I would imagine to a very small degree is right (nature does adapt) but having seen the amount of degradation first hand as I dive (every week all year around) and having dived on pristine seagrass meadows in other areas I can clearly see the strain that Studland is put under each time there is a heavy use on it.(plus the amount of rubbish that is dumped onto the site)
    Yes it might keep partially recovering after each season BUT the strain is and will ultimately take its toll and it would only take something such as the naturally occuring wasting disease that periodically affects seagrass for it to become so unstable that the meadow will die off.
    The worry if this happens is the knock on effect such as beach erosion, the disappearance of a nursery area for commercial species and also the lack of habitat for the Seahorses and the various other species such as the breeding area for the Undulate Rays ( a BAP species).
    Seagrass is also a superb CO2 sink so in the battle against global warming Studland Bay is very important.
    Your question about what has changed over the years is interesting and I truly feel it is down to the types of boat users (not all I hasten to add) now using the site. Back in the 70's if you could afford a boat you tended to go into it fully, you attended courses, you read about how to use boats and the sea and you respected and understood the laws of the sea. Nowadays there are so many boat users out there (and you can see this every week at Studland) that do no have the first clue about how to use a boat and what the laws of the sea are (such as what a dive flag is and how to behave around divers). This inexperience and lack of knowledge has been brought about by the surplus of monies during Labours reign where a large number of people bought boats with cheap money and just went out onto the seas without the first clue about what they are doing. I regularly see 300 plus boats at Studland (we count them whenever we are there ) on a sunny day, quite a large number who are a risk to other boat users let alone everyone else who do not have a clue what to do when anchoring or even mooring. Some of their actions are quite terrifying for everyone (especially the speed they come into the bay and around children swimming on the site).
    The Seahorse Trusts stand has always been that the moorings should be replaced with Environmentally Friendly Moorings and even increase the numbers and enourage mooring to these and not to use anchors, we have never wanted the site to be removed of boats as we truly believe it is a multiuse site and as such everyone should have a right to use it and to jointly protect it for future generations; protection does not mean exclusion.
    One heartening thing I have seen this year is a sea change in the yachting community; we are often approached by yacht users (and a few boat users) who want to know how they can avoid doing damage to the seagrass, who want to know about the amazing marine life at Studland and who are prepared to be respectful to other sea users. It is a small but rapidly growing group who are prepared to work together to make a difference and I hope it continues.

    Jon sorry to hear about your medical conditions but if they ever get better you are more than welcome to dive with us.

    Hope this helps

    The Seahorse Trust

  129. HI Jon and FB122,

    sorry part two due to size of e-mail restriction on the blog.......

    Your point about the bay developing its own ecology is quite interesting and I would imagine to a very small degree is right (nature does adapt) but having seen the amount of degradation first hand as I dive (every week all year around) and having dived on pristine seagrass meadows in other areas I can clearly see the strain that Studland is put under each time there is a heavy use on it.(plus the amount of rubbish that is dumped onto the site)
    Yes it might keep partially recovering after each season BUT the strain is and will ultimately take its toll and it would only take something such as the naturally occuring wasting disease that periodically affects seagrass for it to become so unstable that the meadow will die off.
    The worry if this happens is the knock on effect such as beach erosion, the disappearance of a nursery area for commercial species and also the lack of habitat for the Seahorses and the various other species such as the breeding area for the Undulate Rays ( a BAP species).
    Seagrass is also a superb CO2 sink so in the battle against global warming Studland Bay is very important.
    Your question about what has changed over the years is interesting and I truly feel it is down to the types of boat users (not all I hasten to add) now using the site. Back in the 70's if you could afford a boat you tended to go into it fully, you attended courses, you read about how to use boats and the sea and you respected and understood the laws of the sea. Nowadays there are so many boat users out there (and you can see this every week at Studland) that do no have the first clue about how to use a boat and what the laws of the sea are (such as what a dive flag is and how to behave around divers). This inexperience and lack of knowledge has been brought about by the surplus of monies during Labours reign where a large number of people bought boats with cheap money and just went out onto the seas without the first clue about what they are doing. I regularly see 300 plus boats at Studland (we count them whenever we are there ) on a sunny day, quite a large number who are a risk to other boat users let alone everyone else who do not have a clue what to do when anchoring or even mooring. Some of their actions are quite terrifying for everyone (especially the speed they come into the bay and around children swimming on the site).

    Hope this helps

    The Seahorse Trust

  130. Merci beaucoup Monsieur

  131. Thankyou for your response Neil. A lot to think about, but immediately I would want to pick up on several points. Yes the antics of some boat owners in the bay leaves a lot to be desired, but I am not sure that things have changed so much, except that 'first' boats are a great deal bigger than those we could afford when I started in the late 50's when the leisure boat boom started. In those days there were few books we could read, and little or no training was on offer, and many of us had to learn by our mistakes - and boy did we make some! So I am not convinced that the antics we see to day are really any different to those of forty fifty years ago, except boats are bigger and more powerful.

    Much of the publicity I have seen about Studland Seahorses emphasises how rare and unique a place this is. You say it has been heavily degraded - I would at this stage prefer to say 'modified' - by human influence. This has been going on for 60 years, so could it not be that the modification/ degredation of the seagrass bed is a major factor in making the local ecology so unique, and be the very reason why the Seahorses continue to use it as an inshore breeding ground?

    I am not advocating that we just let things be, so much as pleading for a LOT more research into what it is that makes the bay so unique in the first place. I have not made a study but I keep hearing that Seahorses are turning up in many other places on the S Coast: the Bournemouth Surf reef, Yarmouth and Osborne Bay in the Solent, and according to your own website, numerous other places around the UK.

    I do appreciate the difficulty of solid research on these elusive creatures, but I get very worried when I hear proposals which could radically alter a local 'unique' eco-system in order to 'protect' it, without a much clearer idea of the effects of that change. A bit like the bright idea of letting hedgehogs loose on The Hebrides leading to in a serious change in the eco-system of the islands involved, to the extent they are despartely trying to catch them all again!

    You say too that loss of the seagrass will result in lowering the beach level, but on a recent visit to the NT Beach hut on the beach I was interested to see photos from I think the 1920s, showing the beach several metres higher level than it is now, yet the seagrass remains in place. Rising sealevels? who is to say.

    Finally your suggestion of eco moorings for boats - laying and maintaining moorings on that scale to meet the demand would be a major and costly operation. Many of us owners would as a matter of course not pick up a mooring without knowing that it was adequate for the boat, has been properly maintained, and actually safe for our boats. Nice idea but I remain very unconvinced that laying hundreds of moorings is actually practical or possible financially. Nice little earner for somebody there, but needing I fear a major investment of money and equipment, and probably complex legislation to make it work effectively.

  132. The BBC TV news today has produced some interesting information on the Lundy Island marine reserve. This, Britain's first Marine Conservatiion Zone, has been a " no take fishing zone" with particular emphasis on Shellfish. Lobsters have been left to breed unhindered for 7(?) or so years. The idea being that they would multiply quickly and spread out into surrounding seas establishing new territories. These new and increased populations outside the protected area would be available to commercial fishermen. This has not happened and the "catch" outside the protected area has only increasedv slightly and is considered to be due to increase in intensity of fishing.
    The reasons why the lobsters have not multiplied as expected in the protected area is believed to be because the older lobsters which would have normally been caught have stayed around and feasted on the young lobster offspring. Lobsters primary food sorce is other and younger lobsters. They are the true cannibals of the animal kingdom!
    So... although it is still early days we ( we are all conservationists at heart) need to be very careful when protecting areas and upsetting nature's cycle. Hopefully "Finding Sanctuary" who are in the process of recommending MCZs/ MPAs with protection and regulation will take note of Lundy.

  133. Studland parish council has published the results of a survey of registered residents of the parish.
    Three options were offered:-

    1 To do nothing, no marine conservation zone, leave everything as it is.

    2 Have a marine conservation zone imposed which would have the effect of prohibiting fishing boats from dredging or bottom trawling in the bay but allows all other water based activity.

    3 Have a marine conservation zone imposed which would prohibit or restrict anchoring and mooring, and posibly other water based activities in studland bay.

    Results ( varified by an independent scruteneer )

    Survey forms issued 394
    survey forms returned 177 (44.47%)

    Prefered option 1 70 (39.55%)
    Prefered option 2 66 (37.29%)
    Prefered option 3 40 (22.60%)

  134. Personally, I would have liked to see option 2 but there we go the People of Studland have decided, and its official so whats the next step ?

  135. What an interesting result! Nearly 80% of those who returned their Survey forms do not want restrictions on anchoring or moorings...This is partly due,I suspect, to the Socio-economic implications of mooring and anchoring bans on the local businesses-cafes,shops,B&Bs,hotels etc.
    Finding Sanctuary need to be made aware of local feelings and maybe an economic impact assessment is necessary.

  136. The SBPA are pleased to announce that the current moorings in The South Bay are now official and will remain in place. This information comes from Dorset Coastal Forum Newsletter which says:
    "Moorings at Studland - The 51 moorings already in place at Studland,
    > mostly belonging to residents and the local pub, have recently been
    > recorded and authorised by the MMO. The MMO confirmed that any new
    > moorings after 15th May 2010 will need a FEPA licence."

  137. I'm very impressed Studland ! Democracy Rules OK !
    Two excellent bits of news there but will the media make headlines of them ?

  138. Dear all,
    first of all thank you for no abuse, it is much more pleasant.
    Lots to think about as has been mentioned and the survey is very interesting. Can anyone answer me why those particular questions were asked? and no mention of the 'specialness' of the site or the Seahorses?? (notice I didnt say uniqueness !!Tee Hee)I suppose whoever has written the questions and whatever aim they wanted in their answers relates to how the questions were framed.
    Its interesting that 59.89% want a marine conservation zone!! Like Mad Frank says the people decide, so 59.89% want a conservation zone which from my side of the fence is a superb result it is a clear majority and thank you to the people of Studland. So now that the majoirty of people have decided for a marine conservation zone I presume the parish council will act with the will of the people and back plans for the area to be protected.
    Could I ask how many people live in Studland, how was the survey was distributed, did everyone on the electoral role have a chance to have their say and who were the independant adjudactors??
    I am sorry anonymous I dont agree with your socio economic comment, anywhere in the world that celebrates their unusual wildlife has a local economy that thirves during down times because of the species they celebrate. I mentioned in a previous blog several such sites around the world.
    Everytime that we have a piece on national televison (Countryfile this Sunday usually watched by 5 million plus people), The One Show earlier in the year watched by almost 10 million people and Autumnwatch in 2009 watched by 10.9 million people to name a few), radio or in national magazines it increases the wider public knowledge of Studland Bay and its amazing status and I know from talking with the visitng public that many have come to Studland because of the Seahorses. These visitors probably would not have come otherwise so through our national publicity about the Seahorses we are directly helping the economy of Studland which we are more than happy to do because the more people see this site will add to the conservation argument and support the majority view of the residents of Studland that it should be a conservation zone (59.89% in favour).
    Take the diving community for instance it is estimated that 55,000 dives are under taken in Plymouth per annum (more in Torbay) with each diver spending on average £10 per head in the local economy this equates to £550,000, no small amount, so promting the 'specialness' of Studland not only promotes conervation but it will also help secure the local economy in these uncertain times. I know that each of my divers (and the other divers visitng Studland to see the Seahorses) spend on average between £5 and £10 per head, with a conservative estimate that there has been at least 1,000 dives undertaken in the last 12 months this amounts to 5 to 10 thousand pounds into the local economy.
    Nicholas, sorry but I didnt see that bit on the BBC but my understanding of the success of Lundy is different than that reported by you and indeed fishermens catches have indeed increased dramtically and that the local fishermen welcmoe the continuation of the no take zone.
    I will still stand by my commitment to have the moorings replaced with environmentally friendly moorings and as I have said before I am not against the moorings it is the type of moorings I object to because of the damage.
    In answer to Jon's comment on costs, it has been suggested that Crown Estates (who own the seabed and who grant permission to have them there) finance the installation and maintainence of the moorings through charging for the moorings as is done throughout the country, long term morings would be charged at a proper rate and day visitors would pay a day rate. I have been talking with many yachts and boats users that come to bay and it was they who suggested this idea and suggested they would be willing to pay.

    The Seahorse Trust

  139. @Dear Neil

    Why pay when boats can use mine for free????? also the moorings that you seem to faver are only for use at inshore sites not open sea in that environment they cannot be insured.

  140. The Studland Parish Council Survey shows categorically that the people of Studland do not want an anchoring or mooring ban imposed on Studland South Bay if it becomes a Marine Conservation Zone. 66 voters would be happy to see The Bay become an MCZ with one single protection -that of a ban on bottom dredging/trawling. Typical Seahorse Trust to try and twist the results to suit their own selfish ends.
    For centuries there has been great interest in Studland Bay by many sea users particularly "boaters". It has always been a sheltered anchorage for yachts and safe for locals to moor their boats. The right to moor and anchor has prevailed for generations. Fortunately the right to moor has been recognised in this recent dispute and the current moorings at Studland will remain. SHT want so called eco friendly moorings to replace the current chain and anchor weight variety. These are untried in Studland Bay and on current evidence are not suitable for local conditions.
    The cost also precludes their use by the majority of current mooring owners. Interestingly I see in the "post" above that they can't be insured in the open sea.

  141. I didnt think it would take long for the abuse to start again but was surprised it came from SBPA, just shows doesnt it, leopards and spots and all that.
    I didnt twist the results anymore than the questions were biased and weighted, I just showed the facts as you stated them, you cannot have it all ways.
    I am sorry if you dont like my answers, there are many answers (and abuse) I dont like but I dont get abusive, no need for it.
    As SBPA have started the abuse would they be kind enough to tell me how many people are on the electoral role at Studland and how the survey was distributed and who was the 'independant adjudicators'?? Was the survey form distributed to every householder and resident of voting age in the parish?? if not why not?, surely this would have been the most democratic way of ensuring fairness? Did you take into account the views of the visitors to the village (ref survey done by SSSSG's Julie Hatcher)who have a vested interest in the bay through the monies they give to local businesses? Did you take into account the Your Seas Your voice campaign by the Marine Conservation Society where well over 1,300 people voted for the site to be protected.
    I am sorry if you dont like the fact the bay will be recieving some form of protection in the future but it is going to happen, that is a fact.
    I would invite you to look at the law covering Seahorses that The Seahorse Trust worked so hard in getting into place (Seahorses on the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 schedule 5). It is of the same level as Bats, Dormice and Dolphins and as such it gives them full protection from Disturbance, being taken from the wild or killed, it also covers the habitat they live in, so there is already legislation to protect the site. !!
    This means that if the law was enforced to the letter of the law the boats could be banned from the site TODAY.
    This is NOT what The Seahorse Trust wants we want it to remain a multiuse site (not just a boaters site) so that everyone can enjoy it but we would like the damnge to be limited to the bare minimum, hence the EFM's suggestion. If anybody can suggest to me a way this can done wihtout using them I would like to hear it.
    As things stand I can prove to the authorities that the moorings are damaging protected habitat (W & C Act 1981) but I will emphasise that I do not want a ban but we are all going to have to compromise in the future.

    I think anonymous has probably hit the nail on the head it is cost that is the driving force with some of you not conservation not looking out for the future of the bay, just personal cost. So I truly think the real reason there has been so much fuss is coming out in his/her statement 'Why pay when boats can use mine for free????'; sums it up really.
    I ask again no abuse, I dont have to put up with it
    Thank you

    The Seahorse Trust

  142. Neil, I was disgusted at the manhandling and pulling of seahorses by you and the BBC woman on Countryfile.

    I think your continued publicity and encouragement of divers to Studland is probably causing untold stress to these animals as there is no way of telling if they are leaving them alone and not handling them.

    Compared with you and your kind, the environmental effect of boats in Studland is minuscule.

  143. Gosh we are making a mountain out of a molehill. All this fuss about preserving an unknown number of seahorses which may or may not be thriving in Studland Bay. Reading the Seahorse Trust's reports one would think that these are rare exotic creatures, threatened with extinction like orang-utang or gorillas. Is this really so?
    If it is, then perhaps the Trust would be better utilised to discourage the Chinese from eating them. On a recent visit to Beijing I saw dozens of kebabed seahorses for sale each day in the food markets.And scorpions, too. (UGH!)

  144. SHT mention in an earlier posting today that the Julie Hatcher report and the Marine Conservation Society's campaign to ban boats from anchoring in the Bay should be taken into consideration. The Hatcher report which in essence tells how beach visitors were given Sea horse "spin" and then asked to vote for protective measures to be introduced..Yes 126 voted for protection and the campaign cost Dorset Wildlife Trust and Natural England £10,000..!
    The MCS website shows on a map that anchoring should be banned in South Bay. Most of the people who "click" onto the "Yes" for protection have probably never been to Studland let alone out in The Bay.They have certainly never seen a seahorse.
    SHT are now saying they are happy with boats, happy with moorings provided they are EFMs but unhappy about boats anchoring. How absurd can you get? The right to anchor on the high seas will hopefully remain law as it has done for centuries.

  145. Chris above comments on Countryfile programme shown last night. I think the tagging of Seahorses is quite wrong. The seahorses shown with tags around their necks looked in a comatose state to me. I know that some animals feign death when stressed and this maybe the reason. It could be that Divers are breaking the laws of The wildlife and Countryside Act by harassing the poor Seahorses.Perhaps SHT will comment on this?
    It would be interesting to know if any of the tagged ones from last year have returned to Studland?

  146. A friend to all says,
    Please tell us where is the abuse that you refer to in your blog of 23August. As I see it the SBPA has not in any way changed it stance.
    You then indicate that this is all to do with money, pots calling kettles black springs to mind,
    are you not then in the same boat so to speak, raising money to pay for your hobby?
    Virtually every week you say you take divers down to see the seahorses (or to find them?) do the divers pay for your services?.

    As for your implication of impropriety by the Parish Council, unlike yourself they have are answerable to the provisions of the local government act.
    All aspects of the survey were carefully recorded and as I understand are not secret.
    No doubt the council would respond if there was any justification.
    The Julie Hatcher report already mentioned requires no further comment, look at the facts.

    A recent article in the Echo by Jim Durkin has a quote from you “the bay is a wonderful place to snorkel and dive – we were out yesterday and it felt like the Caribbean”
    Also in the same article “Do not handle them (Seahorses) and do not take flash photography, as this could kill them”

    Your double standards are astounding flash photography has been observed taking place, your publicity leaflet and the recent TV program actually shows a seahorse being handled.

    I would suggest you take note of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 schedule 5”and consider what effect 1000 dives has on the creatures
    (your blog of 20th August refers).

  147. To Neil the Diver,
    After seeing you and Ellie handle those poor Seahorses on Countryfile last night I think it would be a better idea to leave the creatures well alone from now on and make their habitat a diver free zone.
    I think the whole camera sequence was a disgrace and you have let down a lot of people who have backed the work of your trust in the last few years.
    I cannot understand why Kate Humble and Chris Packham would continue their support after seeing such dreadful treatment of a very sensitive wild sea creature.

  148. I have read the above but one posting and can answer the question about "Neils Diving Tours" as a friend went with him in a Bristol Uni group.
    The normal routine is for each diver to donate a Tenner in cash to Neil for his Trust's work.

  149. SHT say in an earlier Blog posting that "The Divers" help the local economy by spending £5-£10 each when they arrive in Studland. My experience is that this doesn't happen. The Divers arrive at the Pub carpark pull on their wet suits and head down to the beach where they snorkel and dive around the moorings and boats at anchor.A cup of tea at Joe's cafe maybe but little else is spent.
    Hang on...what does the earlier message say? Donate £10 to the Executive Director for the experience...!
    A number of Diver's cars have been noted in the carpark. There are the usual 3 or 4 and this year a number of cars we have not seen before. Interestingly these cars are only seen once and don't return. Perhaps Studland is not such a diving experience as it's made out to be. The Blanket weed this year has smothered the eel grass and few Seahorses have been seen. It is believed that the few tagged last year have not returned.
    Anyway we all know now that seahorses are to be found all around the South coast and probably other coasts in the UK and they can't only breed in Studland Bay.
    Thanks Sophie for revealing the £10 donation fee.
    There maybe more to this whole matter than meets the eye!


    I add my deep concern to the other posts of the way the Sea Horses were handled on the Tv programme. They are a protected species uner the legislation quoted above. In my experience, protected species are never disturbed or handled gratuitously - watch Bill Oddie at work to see how Tv shows can be made without disturbing the stars! Their habitats are as far as possible kept 'off limits' and visitors are discouraged from approaching them. This is backed by law, and for the very reasons they have been protected in the first place.

    Seems to me the SHT is making a circus of Studland Bay, and quite a bit of money.

    The two creatures shown on the programme were clearly stressed and distressed by Neil G-Ms pursuit and handling of them, to the extent I wonder if they are still alive now.

    At least the Tv girl showed some common sense at the end, insisting on moving away in spite of her excitement at seing them.

    Several threads on the YBW forums too expressing concern at Neils behaviour on the TV programme.

    The law says GO AWAY and LEAVE THEM ALONE. Neil and his diving friends would be well advised to take note.

  151. I will address Sophie D's comment straight away which is intended to be slanderous and personally attacking. I have not and will never charge for taking divers down to the site. They are there to act as eyes for us in searching for the Seahorses so that we can carry out our work efficiently and under very strict guidelines as laid down by the government.
    Each dive group is instructed very carefully about what to do and how to behave when seeing Seahorses. Here at the trust we do not allow lights or flash pictures and those divers that do are reported to the authorities as has happened recently and the authorities will deal with them in the samne way as if you disturbed bats in your roof.
    The divers from Bristol University Underwater Club offered a donation to our work which I had in fact told them not to do on several occasions (check with there organiser Nicky) but they (in a their kindness) still went ahead and did it.

    I have worked with Seahorse for 30 years plus now and know more about British Seahorses than anyone alive and I can assure you that the Seahorses are handled in the correct manner and no harm comes to our Seahorses, unlike the mass destruction to their habitat that is caused by (some) boat users who do not even have to have a single qualification to be on the water. Tell me the logic of allowing someone to buy a powerful boat that they do not know how to handle and then let them loose on the sea and into areas with children swimming around, piloting it at ridiculous speeds!!.
    Your comments just about sum up the attitude of your group and it certainly is becoming clear to me that even if things were perfect the only thing you want to do is ban divers (who can see what you are really up to) and continue in your own illegal way so that you can benefit yourselves and none else. You are not interested in the bay, the habitat or the creatures that live there, you are only interested in yourselves. Well if that is your stand then I will continue on in my (government controlled) work and keep gathering the evidence and when the site becomes protected I will put this information forward to allow best practise for the manangement process that is already being planned behind your backs..
    Jon I will just refer to one comment you made about in your experience protected species are never handled, I am sorry but you are so wrong and Mr Oddie is one of those who is often seen in his programmes tagging and marking rare and endangered species so that knowledge can be gained about them. In identifying individual animals it is necessary to handle them with the greatest care and to gain as much infromation as it is possible. Only by doing this is it possible to gather enough data to understand about these creatures.

    The Seahorse trust

  152. Ok so things have now got a bit heated ,lets try and calm the situation down and find a way forward.
    Firstly, the Countryfile programme last Sunday didn't do anyone connected with Studland or Seahorses any favours.
    Secondly, it doesn't help the situation if The Seahorse Trust are determined to enforce a protection zone in Studland Bay come what may.
    Please accept the Residents Poll and remember you just can't walk into a location and start laying down the law.
    The only way I see of sorting this problem out is for the Seahorse Trust to make an official and Public apology to the People of Studland and the Boatowners that use and visit the bay admitting they have made a dreadful mistake by assuming that the bare patches within the seagrass beds have been made by anchors, chains and moorings ,when infact they are caused by differences in the sand and silt density and have been in situ for many years.
    We all make mistakes ,its only human.
    And lastly I would also like to see a Public Apology from the Marine Conservation Society for inflicting a proposed NO ANCHOR ZONE conservation area for the whole of Studland South Bay without any prior public consultation with the people of Studland or Boatowners.
    I think the people of Studland have done a good job by conducting a residents poll and I hope other communities affected by these Marine Conservation Areas will follow this democratic route.

  153. I am well aware of Bill's work in identifying and tagging rare and endangered species. I am also an avid follower of him and his TV programmes. I know very well that he needs to handle wild birds, just as you have to handle the Seahorses in order to tag them. He NEVER handles them just to please the programme makers.

    My criticism arises from the seeing you handling the Seahorses simply for the programme makers, and a great deal more than appeared to be necessary, handing them to the interviewer, and continuing to do so for far longer than was needed for a simple ID and growth check. The cameraman had obtained a beautiful series of close up shots of the pregnant male. Why oh why did you then allow the presenter(!) to tear it from its patch, and handle it to the extent you did? At least she had enough awareness of wildlife programme making to realise she had intruded more than enough already at the end.

  154. I saw the shots of Studland Bay on BBC's Countryfile and felt the same about the way seahorses were handled.
    No update on the research project or the tagging totals, just another Public Relations Exercise that appears to have back fired on the BBC and SHT.
    When the SHT decide to release the report of their work so far is up to them, but we were promised a presentation at NOC Southampton this Autumn, which I sincerely hope is still planned.

  155. Hi Alex, could I please ask who 'we' are as regards being promised a presentation? I only ask as I have been trying to organise a presentation and meeting between the SHT and SBPA. I have been told that the SBPA do not want to meet Neil and have such a meeting which is why I ask. Also, if the SBPA have changed their minds please let me know.

    Kind regards

    I hope that the blog can regain the calm and well natured manner it had achieved recently. I can definately state that Neil does not charge divers anything at all and that he would not have allowed any harm to come to the seahorses during filming - I do appreciate everyone is entitled to their opinions.

  156. Becky,the we I refer to is the General Public, the members of the SSSSG and Oceanographists.
    Earlier this year there was talk by the SHT and NOC to hold a presentation in Southampton which would be a limited question and answer session on the Tagging Survey progress. This was due to take place in the Autumn but there has been no word since.
    The SBPA has not changed their minds and the SHT attending the next SSSSG meeting would be most welcome by all.

  157. To Becci and Neil.
    I don't want to get involved with the political arguements or take sides,I was just giving my opinion as one of the 5 million viewers of Countryfile.
    I did not suggest Neil ever charges for his trips either, it is just a routine gesture of the divers to offer a donation and I am sorry that people have seen to twist this.
    I think lessons have been learnt by all sides in the last week, including me and I shall refrain from posting on this blog in future but will remain interested in all creatures aquatic.

  158. Thankyou Alex for clearing that up for me. Also, thankyou Sophie for correcting the misunderstanding.

    Kind regards

  159. I too was appalled by the so-called 'tagging' of seahorses shown on 'Countryfile'. They looked as though they had been nearly garotted by that metal ring around their necks. Does the SHT actually attach these instruments of torture to the seahorses' skins? Unbelievable.

  160. Some kind sole has posted the Countryfile clip on Youtube .. see under Ellie Harrison .
    First time I've seen it today and no more than I expected from the BBC-SHT campaign against the local folk and yachties. Viva le Bateaux !

  161. I would like to comment on Jon's statement about handling the Seahorse. Ellie was carefully instructed on the handling of the Seahorses and it was actually part of the measuring and tagging work we undertake, I can assure you the Seahorse was perfactly settled after filming finished and I did spend some time with it to make sure. I am 100% concerned with the health and welfare of the Seahorses on the site and would do nothing to harm them. If it looked that way then I am sorry but the Seahorses ar emy main consideration on this site.


  162. Mad Frank you have just made me laugh so much thank you, I needed cheering up. I read your comments and 'demand' for an appology.
    You start your blog with a request to calm down and then you make such demands, come on behave.
    I have accepted the local peoples poll and fully appreciate there call for the site to be protected, it is fantastic news.
    I certainly wouldnt appologise for the damage caused by anchors and mooring chains and your demand for this is just intended to inflame the situation. The mooring chains and acnhors damage seagrass that is a fact, there is no getting around it sorry if you cannot accept that.
    For the record can we clear up one thing, you keep targeting me and The Seahorse Trust but you forget that the SSSG (which many of you sit on) Natural England, Crown Estates, MCS and many many other organisations are requesting Studland become a protected site but it is only the SHT that want it to still be a multiuse site, so instead of keep having a go at us as we are the only ones who reply to you, work with us.
    I do competely agree with you on one point it is good that the people of Studland have conducted a poll but would you answer the question I have aked several times how was the poll distributed, did everyone in Studland get a chance to vote and who are the 'independant adjudicators'?

  163. With regard to the meeting in the Autumn, this was nothing to do with the SHT it was a NOC initiative so you will have to ask them about it, we were just asked to do a talk at it.
    As Beccy has said we have offered to do a representation to the SBPA, the Parish Council and others but keep being turned down. The reasoning behind this seems to be that people do not like me (ref: a conversation between Beccy and a local resident). Sorry cant help that but I am the one who is overseeing the work with Seahorses and I am the one who can answer the questions, even if the answers are not liked.

    The Seahorse Trust

  164. I hope you don't mind SBPA but I have posted some information about the VNAZ on the scuttlebutt forum.
    There was some confusion about why it was set up and many bloggers think its to do with the Seahorse People when we all know its not.
    I know MAD FRANK has got frustrated with "idiots" who still anchor within the zone thinking they are protesting against the Seahorse mob when in fact they are playing into their hands.
    Personally ,I have not seen anyone in the zone since the new pillar buoys were fixed in place on my weekly visits to the bay.
    I have called the VNAZ the new "IDIOT ZONE" just in case anyone thinks of still dropping the hook there.
    I don't know who anormousmouse is in the previous blog ? is it Neil MG ? or someone pretending to be him ?

  165. Sophie D appears to not know what she is talking about

  166. Coudld I ask what the SBPA is going to do about the second sewage leak into the bay this year which occured over the last couple of days.
    This comes from the toilet block up the lane from the beach and comes down through the steam onto the beach and out into the bay.
    I hope as you have made it your job to protect the bay that you will tackle Wessex Water for the leak again.

    Many thanks


    The Seahorse Trust.

  167. Hello all,

    My name is Nicky and I organised the recent University of Bristol Underwater Club trip to Studland Bay, and just wanted to clear up a few points, as it seems to have been insinuated that Neil received payment from us for some sort of "seahorse tour".

    This was certainly not a payment, or indeed a "routine gesture" made following the dive, we genuinely wanted to do something to help and show our gratitude after Neil and his team gave us such an amazing morning. We learnt so much about the seahorses breeding, seasonality, territorial traits etc and felt extremely privileged to be getting this information from someone who has worked with them for so long and clearly has a passion for the subject. We agreed amongst ourselves that the best way to say thank you would be to make a donation to The Seahorse Trust and £10 each was thought to be a sensible amount. This was turned down on several occasions by Neil but we persevered (in hind sight somewhat foolishly, as it seems to have caused more hassle than help).

    On the subject of us being taken on a sightseeing tour of the bay, this was certainly not the way the dive was conducted. The project has known areas where breeding pairs have been located this season and are hence highly likely to be seen again. If this were indeed an excuse to let us see as many seahorses as possible we would have dropped down in these areas and spent the whole dive there. Instead we were taken across to a separate location with the sole intention of being extra pairs of eyes to spot other seahorses. This is certainly not the type of trip one would go on if the intention was to be seahorse tourists rather than genuinely help what we view to be a hugely important and interesting project.

    I can only apologise to Neil and his team, it was certainly not our intention to cause as much trouble as we have, especially after allowing us to dive with him, which he certainly did not need to do.

    I do not want to get involved in the politics of the whole situation as I clearly do not have all the information, I just simply want the whole ridiculous idea of paid seahorse spotting trips to be taken out of the equation.

    Many Thanks,


  168. DearAll
    It has become obvious that it is about time divers were banned from Studland Bay as more and more are comming [see many of the above comments]and soon they will drive the seahorses away,.the whole thing is getting out of hand the sooner a ban is imposed the better.

  169. Banning divers from Studland Bay would be difficult as they like everybody else have a right to enjoy the bay. What is of concern is the way the divers insist on diving amongst the moorings and boats at anchor looking for seahorses. Many of us believe that seahorses like the habitat around the anchors,chains and boats. This was well shown on Countryfile programme last Sunday-sparsely rooted seagrass with sandy patches and mooring chains. SHT, however imply in their postings that seahorses are everywhere in the eelgrass beds.Why then do they have to dive around the boats?
    The safety of human life is paramount which is why SBPA is requesting allocated dive areas in the bay. This will be on the agenda for the next SSSSG meeting. Two possible areas spring to mind, the VNAZ and the N Trust swimming area although the latter may need to be extended eastwards slightly. Although boats traverse the VNAZ there should be none at anchor. The swimming area has no boats. These new dive areas would be voluntary but hopefully will be respected by the majority of divers. There are plenty of bare sandy patches in the VNAZ and good eelgrass so there should be seahorses.
    The few SHT divers who use the bay on a regular basis are easily seen with either flags or sausage buoys showing where they are diving. It is the many other divers/snorkelers who come without marker buoys that are the problem. So SHT hopefully you will lead by example and accept the new "Dive zones" when they become official.

  170. SOphiefromRichmond28 August 2010 at 01:53

    we saw ellie playing with the seahorses on tv last weekend and came on holiday to see them. There was lots of seaweed on the beach yesterday afternoon and we found six crabs and three seahorses. 2 of them were caught in the seaweed by there tags but the one with the big tummy was alive. We put them in a bucket next to the Banks arms pub and hope the national seahorse trust will look after them. we luv seahorses. Our school friends from Kew are coming next week to catch some more for their tank.

  171. Sophie: One of the main poiuns about this whole debate is that Seahorses are a protected species, and your friends from Kew willbe comitting a criminal act if they try to catch them, and will earn the enmity of all in the bay - boaters divers and SHT alike. The object is preservation NOT desecration, whether by schoochildren, divers licensed or otherwise, or boatowners!

    However, your report that two of the seahorses you found were found " caught in the seaweed by their tags" is also deeply alrming to many of us who believe those who are tagging them are causing suffering, and if they are getting caught up in this way, this a most serious matter and your account has been reported to the MMO.

  172. Ok, so you've had some fun ,now can we get back to some serious issues.
    ARCO, I agree with what you've put on the Scuttlebutt site about the NO ANCHOR ZONE, they need to get the gist of what its all about.
    NICK, a divers only zone is a good idea and could do us all a good turn by encircling Blind Rock within its area , although that should be on its most Southern Limit.
    NEIL, if my suggestion made you laugh then fair do's ,but I feel it would be the the right thing to do . The Seahorse Trust and the Marine Conservation Society don't appear to have a true understanding of the word Democracy when it comes to Studland Bay.
    As for the second sewage spill this year,I worry that this may cause severe problems to the ecosystem in the bay and we'll risk losing the seagrass meadows,seahorses,mullet and winter visiting seals.
    Unfortunately there are reports of sewage spills all around the UK coast over the last week of heavy rain which will throw my previous Volcanic Ash Nitrate causing the Green Algae Theory out the window.

  173. Hello Frank , I wouldn't be too quick to throw that idea out the window.
    There is a great deal of this Green Algae off the coast of Greenland since the Volcano went off ,and there's the unusual plankton shoals in the Mid-North Atlantic its all connected with a higher nitrate level.
    I read yesterday that BBC's Autumn Watch will be coming from Brownsea Island this year,so expect to see them in the Purbeck Area.

  174. Dear Mad Frank and SBPA

    thank you for your comments and I am the first to advocate proper practise by divers and that is why I have repeatedly stated that any divers not using marker buoys should be given an earache which will be totally supported by the SHT.
    I am sorry you cannot accept you are wrong with regard to where the Seahorses are found, we have the evidence we see them all the time (over 30 this year right across the bed)and it is not just on sandy patches and near moorings, they are widely distributed in the seagrass and if you watch us (underwater) as closely as you say then you will see we cover a large diverse area.
    Designated areas just for divers will not work, partly because like you we have a right to dive anywhere in the bay, like you have a right to be anywhere in the bay with your boats but also the areas you are designating are no good for finding the Seahorses. Remember the law you use to put illegal moorings in is the same law of the open sea that allows us to dive anywhere on the site and as such any suggestion by the SSSG (which we are members of) would not be enforcable and would not be supported by us.
    Here at the SHT we have a government license to carry out our work under very strict guidelines and as such we are the only ones on the site who actually follow the law and respect the law.
    I do and I will repeat DO think we should make sure the divers are safe on the site and as such, they should display the correct marker buoys but more importantly the boat users who use the site should also obey the law and watch out for divers and give them a wide berth (200 metres is the recommended distance, although in practise it is impossible); we all have a legal right to be there but we need to just get on, sorry but divers are not going away. Boat users are under strict guidelines and laws of the sea to avoid divers, sadly very very few actually know any laws of the sea let alone the ones that affect divers and boats.
    Members of this forum have tried so many things so far to get rid of the divers including complaints to HSE none of it is working as we have a legal right to be there and be unhindered and unloested by others.
    When the secret deal was done with certain members of the SSSG and the organisers of the VNAZ it was moved without any sceintific reason(as reported to me by Nick Warner after the deal was done)despite being agreed originally by a number of organisations including the SSSG by using up to date scientific data.
    If you had only realised where you insisted it to go is not a good site for Seahorses (whereas the original site had seahorses on it) and as such there are none found there; you probably wouldnt have moved it if you had only known.

    Jon your point that Seahorse are a protected species is the whole point, they and the habitat they live in are protected and as such all have to respect that. We certainly do and it took a lot of research to decide on the correct way to tag Seahorses. The preferred method by the government was to inject them with flourescent dyes, my reaction to this highly intrusive action was horror.
    The legsilation that Seahorse fall under is exactly the same as that for bats, dormice, water vole etc and as such if it was implemented then, there would be no boats, no people, nothing in Studland Bay; this is certainly not we at The SHT want as we, and I repeat, feel it is a multiuse site and as such if some just forget their various personal agendas for 5 minutes then this could happen.

    The Seahorse Trust

  175. I address anoymous 27th August, just try reversing your arguement for a moment and try banning boats, there would be an uproar quite rightly. The diving community does not want that (you forget many of us are boat owners as well) and we are happy to live and let live; we acknowledge boats have the same rights as divers and we are happy to work together, we are not self centered and want it our own way.
    Despite previous derogatory comments divers help to enrich the local economy and so make a valuable contribution and on the whole they DO NOt drop rubbish into the sea.!! unlike a small (thankfully) number of selfsih boat users.
    So instead of making silly childish unenforcable demands lets work together, the divers are there, they wil always be there and there are laws to protect them from harm by boats.
    Diving is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country and as such special sites such as Studland will be sort out so those who love the environment and want to experience it underwater and seek to protect it from destruction.
    I dive Studland all year around even in 4 degrees like this last January as it is an amazing site that is at risk and through our work with others we will get Studland protected; it has already been decided as I keep telling you. So what we need to do is work together so that we can all use the site and still protect it, it is possible, its done all around the world even on sites where some people are only interested in there 'free' moorings.

    Just in case you think I am ignoring your blogs, I will not be online for the next couple of weeks, so dont think I dont care anymore, missing you already!! (thats a joke for those with no sense of humour)

    The Seahorse Trust

  176. Dear Neal
    As usual you completely missed the point of what I said. Banning the divers from chasing the sea horses out of the bay. Or so you can under stand stop all divers from trying to catch and
    hold them. is that plain enough????? Wait for the reply that will go on for hours and still not address the problem

  177. It seems that seahorses are found most places if you bother to look. They seem quite at home in the briney and there is no evidence to suggest that they are any more fond of Studland Bay than anywhere else.
    The creatures that are especially fond of Studland bay are the seahorse hobbyists - the conditions are ideal, nice shallow diving, a beach cafe, the water is not too rough or cold or rocky. Ideal conditions for the delicate darlings but these creatures should not be protected by the government anymore than butterfly collectors or birdwatchers should. They should be left in peace to pursue their hobby in private with their own resources.

  178. As a Hobby Diver who has dived 4 times in Studland this summer I would prefer to see a Dive Safely Zone in place where we can have an area to ourselves, free from boats.
    It will probably be the first in UK waters but in the circumstances would be a great improvement. I therefore ask The Seahorse Trust divers to endorse this suggestion and support their comrades.
    During the 6 hours total dive time I did not observe any Seahorses in the area I was seaching I will however, come back next May and have another go.

  179. I have just joined the "Save Studland Bay" group on Facebook which is hoping to keep Studland Bay free from any restrictions.
    There is also a link to the Your Seas Your Voice site where you can vote on the Marine Conservation Society's proposed CONSERVATION AREA in Studland Bay .
    Up to now 720 people have voted 600 for and 120 against so we need more to vote NO , make sure you have a look and vote if you have not yet.

  180. Facebook ? I thought it was a teenage networking site. I'm not on it but I'll be curious as to how many join the group.
    Does anyone know who is the Seahorse Trusts Studland Bay Seahorse Tagging Projects Manager ? I've been trying to find out for over a year now and there is no actual statement to confirm this. The job was advertised last year and the Seahorse Trust said their Lottery Grant of £41k would go towards employing a Tagging Project Manager , salary £28k ?

  181. Hey guys,
    can you help me out as I'm getting confused. Peasouper you say that you're a hobby diver searching for seahorses but I thought that you needed a license to do that????


  182. There is a requirement to get a Licence from the Fisheries Office if you intend to photo,film or handle seahorses.
    I did not go shore diving from Studland with the any plans to search for or photo,film or handle them,just have a search around the seagrass looking for anything of interest.
    There isn't much to see just seagrass ,mullet and spider crabs.The seabed is level, with no interesting reefs or wreckage, only 3 metres in depth and is, in my view, very boring.
    Has that cleared your confusion?

    Just to keep you all posted,there are now 6 members of this group on Facebook , two of which are now Maidment and Garrick-Maidment ,so I have left in disgust.

  184. Hi Peasouper how sad you think Studland is so boring to dive in. There is such a myriad of life down there at all times of the year. It might not be the big things and the reef fish but we have all six species of pipefish, both species of Seahorse, Little cuttles, common cuttles, Spider crabs, endless nudibranchs, bass, pollack, mackeral, various gobies, flat fish, Undulate Rays, Peacock worms, anenomes, Jelly fish the list just goes on and on.
    Thank you for answering anonymous's comments to which you are almost right. The only thing you missed out is if you are deliberatly looking for seahorses even just to see them you also require a license. For instance if you dive next spring with a mind to go and see the Seahorses you will require a MMO license.
    At the moment the MMO guidelines are ambiguous and as such can be interpreted in many ways but there is a working group just being set up to address this.
    I actually dont agree with you about a divers only area, it would be like asking the boats to go into a boat only area, we have no right and why should it happen. Everyone can get on well if mutual respect is shown and if the laws of the sea are followed like with divers showing the correct dive flags or SMB's and boats respecting them.
    If anyone dives without the correct marker bouys then they deserve to be given earache.
    Thank you for your input anyway.
    It is so good that another group has been set up on Facebook to preserve the bay as this group is called Studland Bay Preservation Association I strongly urge you all to join and then between us we can save this amazing site from damage and litter for the future generations.
    The Seahorse Trust

  185. Thats a shame, when I read your post this morning Alec, I thought "they" had moved on to Facebook ,away from this blog and out of reach of the middle-aged.

  186. I read with interest the various postings on this Blog. I have been away sailing and diving between Plymouth and Poole for most of August. I have yet to see a Seahorse and for this reason spent a few days in Studland. I must say it was ideal diving weather but I didn’t see much, there was a great deal of dead seaweed on the sandy bottom and it was a bit dangerous with all the boats around.
    We went ashore by the cafe and up to the Pub and shop on two occasions-what a wonderful setting! I’m only sorry I hadn’t found Studland earlier. Such a safe and sheltered anchorage.
    I spoke to some of the locals who were full of fears that anchoring and mooring restrictions might be placed on The Bay if and when it becomes a Conservation Zone. I told them not to worry as a friend had told me previously that this was unlikely with the 40% cuts expected in the DEFRA budget shortly. DEFRA funds are used by Natural England to fund most of the research going on at present about species and habitats which may need protection when funding is available to implement these measures. Anyway I read somewhere that “Finding Sanctuary” the body which will recommend Conservation zones is taking into serious consideration the importance of marine recreation. Judging by the marine activity I witnessed in Studland Bay I doubt whether an anchoring ban would be an option.
    I looked at The Seahorse Trust website as they seem to be active on The Blog and saw that about 8 Seahorses were up for adoption. Interestingly from locations all along the South coast which goes to show that they are everywhere and probably breed in most of these locations. Nothing special about Studland. I look forward to returning to the South coast next year and hopefully might see a Seahorse but I’ll dive in some of the other locations mentioned .

  187. Have you noticed the Seahorse Trust still avoid the question I've been asking for over a year now ? Who got the job of "Studland Seahorse Tagging Project Manager" at £28k per year ?
    What is the big problem with this simple question ? Wasn't there a proper selection process ? Wasn't the vacancy advert worded correctly ? Its a multi-thousand pound question .I'll post the original advert word for word within the next week .

  188. The Tagging project manager must be the self appointed Executive director of The Seahorse Trust. Who else could it be? New recruits have been seen diving with him over the summer months.This "grooming" of young divers should be discouraged as it is only going to frighten the Seahorses away. We all saw on Countryfile the sickening pictures of the presenter handling a seahorse.
    The lottery funding for The Trust will be cut back drastically soon which will limit diver activity. As a result the seahorses will hopefully return to one of their many habitats.
    I say return because there is evidence that fewer have been seen in Studland this year. None of those tagged last year have returned!



  189. The lottery funding for the project ended a long time ago (it was only for a year and we are now at the end of year 2) and we have funded it by many other sources since and we will continue to do so for many years to come. Even if our funding dried up we will stll be coming down to the bay in our spare time. So dont think we are going away anytime soon. Due to the very small anti Seahorse group it has made us and now many many others (not connected with us) determined to continue working in Studland Bay. We now are just a very small group involved in Studland; at last count there were 10 organisations and countless individuals with an interest in the seagrass and seahorses, many of the other organisations have very large budgets and much more clout than we could ever have, so even if we did disappear there are now many others to take our place and they are much more determined than we are.
    Nathan I suggest you check your evidence as you as so wrong.

    The Seahorse Trust.

  190. Surely you are wrong or confused?
    On previous posts you have stated that the Tagging project started last May 2009 after the Lottery Grant was approved and the £41k funds were released? So you are only half way into year 2 .
    The Tagging Project Officer advert states the contract was for one year from June 2009.
    So provided you managed to recruit one,they have had their contract terminated in June 2010,which is the month Steve Trewhella gave up his "volunteer diving and tagging at Studland" .
    He has aways stated that he was never on a salary from the SHT just a volunteer , so who is or was your Tagging Project Officer on £28k ?
    If you still don't want to answer, then we'll find out in the SHT tax accounts next spring . If you didn't employ one then was this was the main reason for obtaining a lottery grant and surely you should have reported this?
    If you couldn't find anyone suitable for the job and took it on yourself and the salary then fair enough but we would like to know, as they were supposed to work closely with the local community and this didn't actually happen.
    Please answer this simple question so we can clear this matter up once and for all without involving the authorties.

  191. I urge those of you oposed to the MCZ being proposed in Studland Bay to look at the Save Studland Bay sight on "Facebook" I am feeling a bit lonely and could do with some support -Toni

  192. Hello Frank,
    If you don't get an answer ,just think that the tax payable on the Tagg Officers wages will amount to about £9500 which is going back in the Treasury to replace the £9500 wasted on the Public Awareness Survey conducted at Studland South Beach Summer 2009.

  193. Hello Toni,
    I have rejoined the Save Studland Bay group on Facebook and added some above water photos.

  194. Alex, Yes your are right about the waste of money on that survey. I did manage to get a copy of the 28 page report which just enforced the fact that £9500 went down the plug hole and they wasted people's time and holiday interviewing them.They only got 120 to give their views on the beach. If and when we find out who this Tagging Project Officer was, then provided they are a UK resident the PAYE they would be liable for on £28k will fund that wastage of Public Funds.
    The Seahorse Trust continue to avoid this question ,must be a closely guarded secret but their Accounts for 2009-2010 should show it or not as we'll see next spring.
    Good luck with the Facebook Group , I shall stay on here as its much more local.

  195. The Public awareness Survey was financed by Natural England and Dorset Wildlife Trust(DWT).This as we all know was a complete and utter waste of money. There were no funds available to repeat the PR exercise this summer however DWT are asking on their website for donations to further their "awareness campaign" this winter and next summer. Their website under"breaking news"-Save Seahorses section shows how they require £8,200 to continue "this valuable work"! Honestly where are we going..? DWT have to date only received £23 which hopefully shows that the public are not going to be conned into donations for such a cause.
    The above is an indication of the cuts to come and we will know more by the end of October. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the "Finding Sanctuary" process is not shelved or even dismantled. The Government has surely satisfied it's European Union requirements by nominating 15 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under The Natura 2000 scheme. Marine Conservation zones (MCZs) are superfluous at this time when the country can't afford them.

    Back to "Where are we going"...! It boils down to Policemen on the beat or spending money on absurd ideas such as saving Seahorses.Which do we want? Hopefully DEFRA who will be receiving their share of cuts will not waste what is left by allowing Natural England to continue sponsoring the QUANGO- Finding Sanctuary.

  196. Hello Nick,
    Well if the Public want to put their hands in their pockets and finance it ,then I think its only fair that the DWT give a breakdown of the costs of such a £8200 project.
    Last years project had admin costs of nearly £2000 so thats a quarter of the budget. Why can't the DWT make cuts and reduce this admin cost to £200 ?
    As a former member of the original Dorset Naturalists Trust( the forerunner to DWT) back in the 70s its very disappointing. I'd rather the money was raised for more direct hands on wildlife projects with our beautiful county.

  197. Steve Trewella quotes

    There is overwhelming public support to conserve Studland bays eelgrass.
    Natural england and the new MMO are taking this matter very seriously, and spending tens of thousands of pounds, looking into the problem.
    Do you really think they would go to all that trouble on the whim of a few seahorse huggers ?

    Daphne says
    I copied this statement from ‘Save Studland Bay’ on Facebook. Tens of thousands of pounds of tax payers money is being spent by Natural England and the MMO looking into preserving the eelgrass in Studland Bay at a time when QUANGOS are being demolished and public services cut to the bone. It is ludicrous...........

  198. Well said Daphne I couldn't agree more. Natural England (NE) and Crown Estates (CE) must have had money to burn when they entered into this Seahorse/ Seagrass caper. The Survey being conducted with the Voluntary No Anchor Zone (VNAZ) must be costing tens of thousands of pounds. Nice little earner for Seastar Survey of Southampton! The firm is however extremely competent and has a good track record. The SHT wanted their recommended firm to get the contract and were extremely "put out" when a neutral firm was selected by NE/CE. The results of the VNAZ Survey will be known at end of next year and "Finding Sanctuary"(FS) is being urged to take the findings into account before making decisions about Studland Bay. If they don't take the results into consideration we will have the classic example of NE/FS/QUANGO wastage of public funds. No wonder cuts are necessary in these departments.

  199. The latest from our Sister site SAVE STUDLAND BAY group on FACEBOOK is we now have 67 members . Which is some good news for a change.
    I will promote this blog on there if you don't mind as some people will like to catch up with the history of our stuggle and there's plenty on here with 200 posts.