Marine surveys discovered fifteen rare species of fish during 2011, one of which was faceless and brainless. In the waters of Orkney off Tankerness the prehistoric Amphioxus was found. It is representative of the early evolution of the backbone with the nerve chord that runs down its back.
Scotland’s largest sea shells are said to belong to the giant mussels that were found around the Small Isles. These mussels’ shells are eighteen inches. There islands have the largest aggregation of fish found in the United Kingdom waters with over one hundred fan mussels found. Golden threads resembling human hair are on the mussels, these threads can attach to individual grains of sand. It was once believed this species fed off of sailors that had drowned.
There were fifteen marine surveys that covered over two thousand square miles during 2011. There were rare species uncovered that increased the knowledge of Scotland’s seas and the biodiversity of them. Water near Noss Head, Caithness is where Scotland’s largest Horse Mussel bed was found. Other species are provided a critical ecosystem by Horse Mussels which can live to almost fifty. In Gaelic they are known as “Clabbydhhu” which means ‘enormous black mouth.”
Loch Linnhe, Argyll is where the Flame Shell beds were found. This species has bright orange tentacles for feeding and is found in a small number of locations on the west coast. Off the Sound of China there were new Northern Feather Star discovered; the species is brightly colored with a central disc that ten arms resembling feathers fan out from. The latest technology was used to create 3D images with acoustic multi-beam scanners.
The technology made it possible to get marine maps of a number of areas for the first time ever. The areas included Caithness’ Sinclair Bay, the Isle of Canna, and Rockall. There was underwater photography and video taken and sampling of the sea bed sediment included in the surveying of marine life. Scotland’s science institutions, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Northern Lighthouse Board, British Geological Survey (NERC), and Scottish Natural Heritage coordinated the survey with Marine Scotland.
The government of Scotland has stated that the species discovered during the study will increase the knowledge of biodiversity and that the fragile environment should be protected. There are preparations being made to perform additional surveys of marine life during 2012. The results of the surveys could lead to the improvement of caring for and preserving marine life.