Project Baseline Midland Pools awarded the 2022 HRH Prince of Wales Scuba Prize on Behalf of BSAC
On the 4th of March 2022, The Prince of Wales Scuba Prize was presented to the project leads and Project Baseline Midland Pools (PBMP) volunteers by BSAC’s Gavin Anthony at the Go Diving show. But what does this have to do with Marlin Sub-Aqua Club?
Once upon a time, in the Midlands…
In April 2018, two members of Marlin SAC (Martin Maple & Rob Corby) decided to put their diving skills to use and build on their project diving experience.
The idea behind the project was to explore local underwater sites, those being quarries in the midlands, and perform the following tasks:
- Underwater survey and recording
- Environmental clean-up
- Recording water depth, temperature, visibility, lakebed composition and profile
- Recording aquatic life, including the presence of white-clawed crayfish
- Identifying the presence of any heritage items from the old quarry works
We approached Rugby Council and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for access to the Newbold Pool, and to our amazement, they were keen to facilitate us. It was in May of 2018 when divers from Marlin SAC began diving Newbold in an attempt to fulfil these aims.
The day was a great success in that not only did we start to work on some of the project’s aims, but we also engaged the local community to help out with the surface litter pick.
The expansion begins…
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust was so impressed with our work at Newbold that we were invited to carry out the same tasks at one of their newly acquired sites, Blue Pool, near Bishops Itchington. We arrived at the pool on a freezing January morning in 2020, where we were given a taste of real project diving, owed to the fact that the pool was a half-mile walk away that had to be made in Scuba Diving kit (thank goodness the weather was so cold)! We made a start on achieving our aims and removed a huge amount of surface litter, which was kindly disposed of by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
Our collaboration with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust opens the door to new opportunities and access to more sites.
Hinkley & Bosworth Borough Council were approached for access to the Hill Hole quarry, and we got it.
We also had the desire to add Great Pit in Bradgate Park to our list of sites, and after meeting with Bradgate Park Trust, we were granted access to the site.
The first of the two new sites we dived at was Great Pit in March 2020. There were reports of this former slate quarry being 50m, and after two dives, we reached the limitations of our breathing gas and could confirm at least that there was a depth below 30m. We would return at a later date armed with tri-mix and a deco stage.
Hill Hole was first dived in July 2020, and given it’s not a huge site and only 6 meters deep, we got a good layout of the underwater environment. White-clawed crayfish were found along with approximately 20 vehicles. Unfortunately thought the place was filthy and required hours of cleaning. Fortunately, we had excellent engagement from project volunteers to help with this monumental task.
To our joy, we had confirmed the presents of White-Clawed Crayfish at Newbold and Hill Hole. We also confirmed White-Clawed Crayfish at a site where they were reportedly wiped out several years earlier. However, we were unable to include this site in our portfolio.
We also added Secchi disks to two features in Stoney Cove, allowing all divers to record and submit data.
The way forward
In 2020 we registered our project with Project Baseline in order to attract more volunteers and give us somewhere to submit our data.
Also, in 2020 we received funding from the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust. We brought a GPS fish finder for underwater mapping; we manufactured base stations complete with Secchi disks and temperature loggers for all sites and paid a local company for chemical analysis. The question may be asked, what do you do with all this data? In our case, we submitted it to Project Baseline for archiving.
Martin produced the project report for the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust Project Baseline Midland Pools for the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust in November of 2021, which brings us back to the beginning. BASC was so impressed with the report that it was shortlisted for HRH The Prince of Wales to review for a prize winner.
The temperature loggers have a 5-year lifespan, so we will continue to upload the data from these along with the visibility from the base stations. Stratification and eutrophication (where temperature alters at different depths and the movement of water because of this), are critical players in the annual cycle of an open body of water. We aim to monitor this with the use of temperature loggers set at different depths in the Newbold pool. It would be interesting to see if this data correlates to water visibility and marine activity.
Unfortunately, in November of 2021, we found a Signal Crayfish in Newbold. It is particularly upsetting and odd considering this is an isolated site meaning a stream or river does not feed it. It is, however, only a few hundred yards from a canal. Therefore we would like to explore the possibility that this was the source of the invasion. We have removed every Signal Crayfish sighted but are realistic about the fact that others will remain. Newbold is in an exclusive position for divers to observe how the Native crayfish cope with this invasion.
We want to thank all the volunteers who participated in the project, along with the individual advisors who made all this possible. Also, we would like to thank the support and cooperation from the multiple agencies we have collaborated with.