A new series of videos has been launched to provide a rare glimpse of the Isle of Man’s spectacular underwater life.
Using underwater footage from a range of sources, the video compilations by Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) in collaboration with Manx Wildlife Trust, highlight some of the animals and habitats in each of the Island’s 10 marine nature reserves (MNRs).
The reserves, which cover 11 per cent of the Island’s territorial sea, were introduced in 2018 to protect the Island’s most important marine habitats and species and to meet international nature conservation commitments.
DEFA, with the help of specialists, collect scientific information on the MNRs to inform decision making, and ensure that important areas and their biodiversity are protected, whilst also enabling the seas to contribute, directly and indirectly, to the sustainable development of the island’s economy.
Individuals and organisations have provided a range of images, underwater video and some vessel-based video from around the Island to help illustrate the marine biodiversity, including recreational and Seasearch divers, Manx Wildlife Trust, Bangor University and DEFA.
Highlights include Ramsey Bay’s eelgrass meadows, swimming queenies, Port St Mary’s kelp forests, small sharks feeding around a research camera, octopus in Port Erin Bay, horse mussel reefs, guillemots ‘flying’ underwater around the Sugar Loaf, and close encounters with basking sharks and grey seals.
The videos, which are on the UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man YouTube channel, are provided in short and long versions, and are introduced by DEFA’s Senior Marine Environment Officer, Dr Peter Duncan.
Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘The sea makes up 87 per cent of our UNESCO Biosphere, provides vital habitats for a huge diversity of species, provides our fishing fleets with an economic living and us with delicious seafood and is enjoyed for leisure.
‘Below the surface, it’s teeming with a surprising variety of life and colour and these videos give us a fascinating glimpse into that life and why it’s important to protect it.’
Dr Duncan said: ‘One of the difficulties of marine conservation is being able to show what’s down there, and what’s worth protecting. Not everyone can go diving, so these videos allow everyone to access our spectacular underwater life and learn about its diversity and ecological connections.
‘Working with Manx Wildlife Trust, we showcase some of our most interesting and unusual marine life, so that people think “Wow, I didn’t know we had that here!” – and then maybe get more aware of and involved in marine conservation and a greater appreciation of our wonderful local sea.’
New guides and activity sheets for the MNRs complement the videos and can be found here.