In late May we started forming a plan of action to record changes in the benthic community and fish populations that would develop from eradicating of the Black Long Spined Urchins! Using lift bags we transported 6 breeze blocks creating a 10 x 10 metre Test Zone (T) and a 10 x 10 Control Zone (C). Once the blocks were in position we roped off the 2 areas. In the Test Zone we then went about eliminating the evasive urchin, whilst in the Control area everything remained the same.
We began to see the first signs of life after just 4 weeks with a small covering of algae growing on the rocks within the Test Area, followed shortly by red moss growth and small harpoon weed sprouting. As the plant life increased the number of regular species increased plus additional species moved to the area. After week 6 the urchins didn't seem to move back into the Test Area and the plant life seemed to flourish.
In the Control Area no urchins were touched and as such there was no changes seen on the sea floor. No increase in urchin activity was noted in this area, although there was an increase in fish life which could be conducive to the neighbouring Test Area.
After 12 weeks we felt the result have been successful and that destroying the urchins had had a positive effect on the marine biodiversity in this small area. We now felt we had justification and evidence to carry out with cleaning the entire reef of this evasive species and that by doing so, would bring more life back to the barren rocky topography.
Participants during this phase included;
Colin Hart, Suzy Carden-Noad, Chris Botting, Jason Higgins, Lucy Weal, Joe Redfern