In May 2008 (18-27 May), a survey commissioned by JNCC undertook seabed habitat investigations of two Areas of Search (AoS) for offshore SACs. The objectives of this survey, within the Submarine structures in the mid-Irish Sea AoS and the Solan Bank AoS, were to acquire high quality acoustic data capable of identifying and delineating habitats listed under Annex I of the 1992 EC Habitats Directive; primarily the Annex I habitat Submarine structures made by leaking gases in the former AoS and Annex I Reef habitat in the latter AoS. Surveys consisted of both broad-scale and fine-scale acoustic techniques, utilising sidescan sonar and multibeam swathe bathymetry, along with a variety of ground-truthing techniques including towed and drop down video/stills and Hamon grab sampling. A Rock dredge was also used at a few stations in order to gather samples of epibiota from hard substrata to assist with the taxonomic identification of the video and still images. The range of sampling techniques employed ensured that any Annex I habitats could be adequately described and characterised. For both AoSs survey planning and interpretation of survey data utilised extensive pre-existing data sets.
Additional information source:
Whomersley, P., Wilson, C., Clements, A., Brown, C., Long, D., Leslie, A., Limpenny, D. 2010. Understanding the marine environment - seabed habitat investigations of Submarine Structures in the mid-Irish Sea and Solan Bank Area of Search (AoS). JNCC Report 430