Serpula project

Serpula worms are a tube building polychaete found worldwide, however aggregations of worms only occur at 5 sites (Loch Creran, Scotland; Taranto, Italy; Salt Lake/Ard Bear, Co Galway; Killary Harbour, Co Galway; and Leitir Calaidh, Co Galway). This unique biogenic reef is present at 3 of the sites monitored by Seasearch Ireland as part of the National Marine Monitoring Scheme and as such a rare habitat warrants further study. This project aims to look at the mobile fauna using the Serpula colonies, to examine the any predation of the Serpula and what species are engaged in this and to examine the impact of disturbance on Serpula vermicularis.

Serpula vermicularis reefs

Why video monitoring?

Serpula individuals rertract into their tubes when disturbed by divers (see video below). In order to observe the natural activity of colonies and the mobile fauna remote monitoring is the only viable option. Seasearch Ireland will deploy GoPros at the sites to record video footage which will then be analysed by our volunteers to examine the use of the reefs by fish and crustaceans and also to observe any species predating on the individual Serpula. A similar methodology has been used successfully in the Black Bream project.

Video showing Serpula vermicularis retracting in response to torch light

Funding

This project is only possible due to funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage through National Parks and Wildlife Service Small Recording Grant which Seasearch Ireland secured in 2021. We would like to thank the Department for supporting our work. Thanks also to anyone who contributed to our GoFund me which is now obviously defunct.

Video from our first deployment of cameras as part of Serpula project
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