Research Profile | Carol Baily | MSc Marine Science & Climate Change

A survey of the richness and abundance of fish species in and around the Arch, Barranco Seco, Los Gigantes, Tenerife.
23rd March 2023

Describe your MSc project?

My project was based in Tenerife in the Canaries and is an analysis of the biodiversity of fish species in and around a natural underwater rock structure called ‘The Arch’ which is located on the West coast of Tenerife in a Special Conservation Zone  (ZEC ES7020017: Zonas Especiales de Conservación) called the Teno-Rasca Marine Strip (location 23 on the map)
The ZEC was set up in 2011 as part of the Spanish government’s commitment to the EU Natura 2000 programme. The ZEC covers 69,489.68 hectares from Buenavista (in the north) as far south as the resorts of Los Christianos and Las Americas. The purpose of the ZEC is to ensure the long-term survival of the most vulnerable animals and natural habitats in Europe and to help mitigate the loss of marine diversity caused by the effect of human activities. My project established a baseline of fish diversity in the area.

What type of research has it involved and what skills have you learned?

Underwater cameras were used to record the abundance and richness of species. One camera was placed in front of The Arch (on the south side) and left to record fish movement and behaviour while my dive buddy and I swam around the structure recording fish species using hand-held cameras. During six dives in May 2022, nearly four hours of footage was recorded.  I learnt how to coordinate data capture with a dive buddy, the importance of having a consistent route for data capture and the importance of checking that equipment works before getting into the water.
To analyse the camera footage and determine abundance and richness of species, I used Excel spreadsheets and revisited my knowledge of SPSS for the data analysis. I learnt how to use BIIGLE© software for the species identification process. More than 30 fish species were identified and the numbers of individuals counted through the footage.

Were there any partners/stakeholders on your project?

I am very grateful to the team of the Los Gigantes Dive School who provided the diving equipment, boat access to the dive site and dive buddy, Sheila (part-owner of the dive school). Their enthusiasm for the project and technical expertise were invaluable.
 Dr Jaime Davies is the expert on BIIGLE© software and was very patient and encouraging when internet access was proving to be difficult.

Why should the public know about this topic?

Pelagic fish are ecologically important to marine ecosystems and are a highly valuable ecosystem resource. Understanding how fish are distributed through different landscapes can help with developing conservation strategies. The Spanish government want the community interest of ZEC areas to be managed in a way to guarantee protection and improvement of different types of natural habitats and species. The goal is to achieve a sustainable balance between encouraging the number of uses and activities in the area while conserving the natural values ​​it contains.
Fish biodiversity and whether it is being monitored and protected in a region can reassure the general public that environmental and sustainability standards are being maintained. For the local businesses in Los Gigantes (and tourism in Tenerife and the Canaries) this knowledge can boost the local economy by encouraging more tourism. The Dive Center is already using footage of the dives to promote their PADI Scientific Diver courses.

What is the wider impact of your research?

As part of its involvement with Natura 2000, the Spanish government is required to provide reports to the EU every six years, analysing the state of the protected areas within their territories. As this project develops into a PhD and the diversity of fish species in the area continues to be studied, it is hoped that the results will form part of the next round of review reports in 2026. Studies of this type will provide local marine organisations – government (Ayuntamiento Marinero Santiago del Teide) and nongovernment – with information and advice to continue to further protect marine environments and encourage sustainable use of marine resources.

Comments from Head of School

Carol has shown through the use of non-destructive monitoring techniques such as remote underwater video, it is possible to understand fish diversity and abundance. To truly achieve conservation gains ‘on the ground’ it is important to attain a baseline of evidence to support the arguments for protection. To achieve sustainable use of a location we must understand the ‘ecological goods and services’ it provides.
We would like to thank Sheila and everyone at Los Gigantes Dive Centre for hosting Carol and facilitating her research. Check out the diving on offer here:
Dr Awantha Dissanayake, Head of School (Marine & Environmental Sciences)
  • MSc

    Master in Marine Science & Climate Change

    Designed and delivered by expert academics and scientists, this full or part-time interdisciplinary programme blends theoretical study with practical, field-based work. You will cover specialist subject areas and gain the skills required to tackle the complex issues associated with the sustainable development of marine ecosystems.[...]

    1 Year

    No Placement option

    Full Time

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