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Seasearch Sponge Course

Booking form
Snake pipefish
Steligera rigida

Tutors: Jen Jones - (Minioning by Dawn Watson and Rob Spray)

Date: Course 25th and 26th with optional dive and survey/collecting 27th July to 1st August 2015

Time: Saturday 9:30 - 4:30, Sunday TBA

Location:  Theory - Gresham's School, Holt, North Norfolk
                    Diving and shore - Various, including shore diving off North Norfolk and sites in Suffolk and Essex nearby - travel not included, weather dependant
Gresham's School (click for more details)
Cromer Road,
NR25 6EA


Visiting expert Jen Jones will be running her popular course which will enable volunteers to ground truth species found in East Anglia. Jen Jones works as a marine biologist and sponge taxonomist, she is co-author of two papers describing new sponge species from the Falkland Islands.

This course will introduce the pysiology and variety of British sponge species. It will cover identifying sponges in the field, where possible, supported by in-situ photography and back in the lab using spicule preparation and microscopy for positive ID of similar and cryptic species. 

There will be field excursions to different sites to collect samples followed by sessions of talks and lab work.
Shoreline and dives surveys will be undertaken to photograph and sample sponges for study. Sponges thrive in many local habitats including the Norfolk chalk, biogenic reefs and local wrecks. Many sponge species can be difficult to identify in-situ and during this course you will be taught how to make spicule preparations from samples to look at under a microscope. The course is open to anyone with an interest in sponges, from amateurs to professionals, and although run for Seasearch it would also be beneficial for anyone keen to develop their knowledge of sponge identification as well as divers. Dives undertaken during the course and following week will contribute to the local Seasearch survey and also count towards Observer and Surveyor qulaifications if required.

This course is open to all, teaching will be class based and samples will be shared for lab sessions.

Min 10 - Max 20 students

Course:    70 each for volunteers, 140 if undertaken as part of professional development. (including course materials and refreshments)
Diving and shore work:     Activities are free (own equipment required) but
parking is at attendees own cost (We'll share cars where possible)

A cheque for 70 is required to secure a place.

Agenda (guide only):

09:30    Arrive and register
10:00    Session 1
11:00    Break
11:30    Session 2
12:30    Lunch
13:30    Session 3
14:30    Break
15:00    Session 4
16:30    End
19:30    Evening meal (optional)

TBA - Likely to be an early start :-)

Tea, coffee, squash and biscuits are included for breaks
Meals are not included, a packed lunch for both days will allow the most flexibility for survey trips.
If you would like to join the group meal on Saturday night please inform the organiser.

The diving is optional. The planned diving during the course would be shore based nearby. These are shallow (5-10m) and close to shore but may require a walk (200m) and surface swim (50-100m)
Local airfills are not always available - bring 2 cylinders if possible - many people could make both dives on one 12 litre cylinder

Normal Seasearch qualification requirements apply for divers taking part under our supervision - Minimum Sport Diver, 20 sea dives, 10 in UK.
N.B. If you can operate as an autonomous dive group then we will do our best to support your dive planning if some of your party cannot meet the minimum requirements.

Dawn Watson
1 Town Houses
Yoxford Road
IP17 2LX

Phone: 01728 660 598
E-mail: seasearch at

Vivid Oceans and Secret Seas


Constructive comments and corrections are welcome, as always :-)

Rob and Dawn