As reports rang out of numerous sightings of Portuguese man-of-war in early October along Ireland’s southwest and west coasts, the Irish sailing vessel, Spirit of Oysterhaven, set sail south to Portugal as part of a new Coastwatch European ‘citizen science’ recording scheme.
On route, skipper Oliver Hart reported floating colonies of hydrozoans.
“We spotted Portuguese man-of-war and took the coordinates and time of observations. We didn’t see any around the Portuguese coast – I think the fleet had sailed for Ireland!”
While the Portuguese man-of-war catches its prey using 50m long poison cell covered tentacles, Spirit of Oysterhaven used a Secchi disc on a 50m string, thermometer, camera and apps to monitor colour, transparency and micro litter, explained Karin Dubsky, Coastwatch Europe coordinator.
In Portugal, GEOTA – the national environmental group ― and Portuguese Coastwatch coordinators have organised on-foot surveying of the coastal zone, at the same time as Irish Coastwatch volunteers complete the autumn survey.
After reaching the southern tip of Portugal, Spirit of Oysterhaven will set sail for Madeira to continue the citizen science effort. Their last stop in European waters is at the Savage Islands on November 16, Portuguese ‘Day of the Sea’.
Coastwatch coordinators are now inputting and verifying survey forms with a view to releasing result analyses shortly.
Late forms will be accepted until October 27.