MASTS 2020 webinar series

 MASTS 2020 Webinar Series

Throughout 2020, members of the marine science community were invited to watch the highly successful MASTS webinars to learn about the latest breakthroughs, new technologies, and ground-breaking research in a broad variety of fields.

During these live programs, our expert speakers explained their top-quality research and answered questions submitted by viewers. The idea was to share innovations and ideas on a regular basis, support our work, and spark our imaginations.  We had 23 weekly webinars and attracted global audiences every week.

All previous MASTS webinars from 2020 have been uploaded to our YouTube Playlist here 

Find out who featured in our MASTS webinar series below

26/08/2020 - Dr Carlos Loureiro (University of Stirling) – Stormy seas on sandy coasts: morphological impacts of exceptional storms on beaches and barriers

Stormy seas have significant impacts in coastal areas, causing intense coastal erosion and inundation, as well as widespread infrastructure damage and wide-ranging social and economic disruption. Exceptional storms and unprecedented stormy seasons during the past decade prompted an increased recognition of the morphological impacts of storms on sandy coasts and, despite uncertainty in both storm forcing and coastal response under a changing climate, future storm impacts are only expected to worsen due to higher sea levels. This webinar will explore the impacts of a wide range of coastal storm events, from single tropical storms to clusters of extratropical cyclones, along diverse sandy beaches and barriers. We will contrast storm impacts in natural and engineered barriers and discuss different management interventions for coastal storm protection, from straw bales to rocky seawalls and many things in between. 

19/08/2020 - Nick Bibby ( Scottish Policy and Research Exchange), Mark James (MASTS) & Janelle Braithwaite (Marine Scotland) Building relationships with policy professionals in Scotland: strategies for MASTS researchers 

How can researchers establish links within the policy community? What opportunities are there to work across different parts of the policy world – parliaments, governments, local government and public agencies? What role does scientific evidence (and the scientists who produce it) play in various policymaking processes? Can you be involved with politics without being political? There are many opportunities for researchers to engage with policymakers at all levels but it can be bewildering knowing where to start, who to contact and when to contact them. This session will outline some practical first steps for researchers wanting to influence policy.

MASTS Operations Director, Mark James, and Dr Janelle Braithwaite from Marnie Scotland will be offering insights from researcher's and policy's perspective and commentary on the work of MASTS and policy.

12/08/2020 - Dr David McKee (University of Strathclyde) - Light in the sea: new frontiers in optics and oceanography

Light plays a number of fundamental roles in the ocean, influencing a wide range of physical, chemical and biological systems. Light is also often used as a tool for ocean sensing, both in situ and from satellites and other remote platforms. This presentation will discuss some new and emerging opportunities in oceanographic optical sensing. In the process we will explore the latest developments in what you can (and can’t!) do with ocean colour remote sensing. We will also look at how optical sensors are being used to shed new light on seasonal development of phytoplankton blooms in the Barents Sea and revealing very sensitive animal responses in the extreme dark of the polar night.

05/08/20 - Anna Garcia-Teruel (University of Edinburgh) - Reshaping wave energy: a method for design optimisation A high energy potential is found in ocean waves, with 52 GW estimated to be the usable wave energy resource in the UK. A wide range of wave energy converters have been developed in the past years to find an economically competitive design. Various studies show that the biggest cost reduction potential is associated with the device’s structure. For this reason, it is important to investigate the most suitable device shape in the early stages of the design process and avoid expensive design iterations later on.  In the past, different approaches with various simplifications have been used, where costs have been represented through proxies such as device size or weight. The resulting shapes might just be optimal for very specific sea conditions, and device designs or not cost-effective to manufacture. A design framework will be presented able to generate a diverse range of improved wave energy converter hull shapes to explore more of the design space and identify promising solutions.

29/07/2020 - Drs Lucie Novoveska & Adrian MacLeod (SAMS) - Algae treasure chest: Unlocking the potential of microalgae and macroalgae in Scotland Algae are found in all aquatic environments across the entire planet. There are hundreds of thousands of different species; some microalgae are adapted to thrive in the most extreme environments ranging from acidic mine waters and desert crusts to life in snow. In addition to their fundamental ecological role, algae are being exploited commercially. Both microalgae and macroalgae have been documented to produce a variety of beneficial compounds such as anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal compounds, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, pigments, and many others. However, only a fraction of algal species have been scientifically described and only a very small number of species are currently used in commercial application. The biological diversity and potential for economic exploitation of algae is very high. Lucie and Adrian will discuss the current state of microalgal and macroalgal research at SAMS and Scotland as a whole. 

22/07/2020 - Dr Davina Derous (University of Aberdeen) - What is a healthy dolphin? Toward new ecological relevant health markers. Cumulative exposure to sub-lethal anthropogenic stressors can affect the population viability of cetaceans. Such disturbance can cause displacement from critical habitat or feeding grounds, leading to disrupted foraging, increased stress, decreased resilience and impact the amount of energy they invest in reproduction and survival.  Identifying ecologically relevant indicators of health is therefore crucial to understand how different and multiple stressors affect survival and reproduction and hence population dynamics in cetaceans. To date, we do not have a clear understand of the notion of health for cetaceans in an ecological context; that is, how health status affects the ability of individuals to survive and reproduce. In the seminar, I will focus on the work that we have done and are doing to classify health and assess the impact of multiple stressors. Watch HERE

15/07/2020 - MASTS & SUPER Grad School 4 x 10min "My Research" Showcase

  • James Rimmer (Uni. of St Andrews)- Evaluating the cumulative impacts of multiple stressors on estuarine biofilms
  • Corallie Hunt (Uni. of St Andrews)– Using sound to map sedimentary (blue) carbon
  • Liam Godwin (UHI) - How does land use within the Flow Country impact the ecology of salmon bearing rivers
  • Jack Sheehy (Heriot Watt Uni.)- Blue carbon: policy context and ecological economics

08/07/2020 - Dr Hermione Cockburn (Our Dynamic Earth) - Discovering the Deep: Public engagement outcomes and legacy from the ATLAS project "Atlantic Adventures with ATLAS” is a portfolio of public engagement resources developed by Dynamic Earth to disseminate findings from the ATLAS project ( Ranging from augmented reality colouring sheets about case study locations, to a script for an interactive marine science show, the resources were designed for use by other project partners, informal educators and teachers to engage diverse groups of people unfamiliar with deep-sea science. To date, Dynamic Earth has reached over 35,000 individuals in Scotland via events and workshops based on the resources; many more people have participated in events run by project partners across Europe. In the webinar, I’ll explain the principles on which the portfolio is based, showcase the various resources, share feedback, and discuss the legacy of the work including a new National Lottery Heritage funded project called “Discovering the Deep” about Scotland’s deep-sea heritage.

01/07/2020 - Dr Maria Azeredo de Dornelas (St Andrews University) - Changing seas: biodiversity change in the recent past  The planet is undergoing fast and global change in climate and human use of natural resources. We ask the question: how is biodiversity changing in this context? We used biodiversity time series in the bioTIME database to dissect richness and turnover change within and across communities, in space and time and across taxa.Change in community composition emerges as the most evident way in which biodiversity is changing in the Anthropocene. Colonizations and extinctions are accelerating but are approximately balanced. Most populations have no detectable trend in their abundances, and those that are changing are equally divided among those increasing and those decreasing in abundance. Temporal turnover in ecological communities is therefore the result of a balance between winners and losers. On average we do not detect a significant change in species richness, although many locations have decreasing and others increasing trends. However, there are spatial patterns in this variation, with the marine realm showing the strongest trends in turnover and species richness change.

24/6/2020 - Dr Declan Tobin (JNCC) - What’s the porpoise? Marine conservation; the species behind the policies  JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee) is a public body that advises the UK Government and devolved administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation. In the offshore JNCC has responsibility for advising on marine nature conservation including many flagship seabird and marine mammal species. We play a key role in supporting government and industry to use the offshore environment sustainably, through identifying, monitoring and advising on protected areas; and by advising on the impacts of offshore industries. This presentation will look at the policy context for mobile marine species management in the UK and will outline the range of work areas that JNCC are involved in to help Governments deliver on their policy commitments.

 17/6/2020 - Dr Tania Mendo & Dr Mark James (University of St Andrews) - Understanding potential impacts and assessing possible mitigation of bycatch in an artisanal shrimp trawl fishery in Peru

Artisanal shrimp trawl fisheries in Peru operate illegally with high levels of bycatch, impacting biodiversity in coastal areas. Conflicts with other fishers, NGOs and government enforcement actions have prompted the trawling community to seek academic advice to inform bycatch reduction with a view to encourage authorities to approve and manage their activities. About 5000 people depend on this fishery in just one region of Peru. This project aimed to determine the spatio-temporal distribution of the fleet and assess catch and bycatch to develop recommendations that reconcile the protection of biodiversity with the sustainability of the fishery and its socio-economic benefits. Data was collected by on-board observers and by fishers using a novel mobile phone application (App). The financial implications of adopting a new trawl net designed to reduce by-catch was explored to assess the viability of replacing existing trawls. The results were shared collectively with industry, regulators and government officials to help inform discussions related to the potential to normalise the way this fishery is prosecuted and managed.

 10/6/2020 - Dr William Sanderson & Hannah Lee (Heriot Watt University) - The DEEP project:  Progress and challenges in oyster restoration 

Anthropogenic pressures on the marine environment have escalated and shellfish habitats have declined substantially around the world. Recently, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have rapidly increased in number, but management baselines rarely account for historical conditions. Marine examples of habitat restoration are therefore unusual and, arguably, ought to be routinely considered in this context. The Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University, The Glenmorangie Company and the Marine Conservation Society.  DEEP seeks to restore 4 million native oysters (Ostrea edulis) to the protected waters of the Dornoch Firth, where they were once present. In this presentation, we will explain the rational for the restoration and the foundation research that showed oysters had occurred in the inlets and open coastal areas of NE Scotland for thousands of years. The recent phased restoration trials and work towards validating the ecosystem services benefits, such as carbon storage and biodiversity gain, will be explained. Finally, some of the unexpected challenges in ecosystem restoration will be highlighted and the next steps towards the restoration goals laid-out. 

Overall, habitat restoration in the marine environment is an emerging global theme with huge potential requiring a concerted societal effort.

 02/06/2020 - Dr Christopher Sweeting (MMO) - Non-lethal deterrent options for mitigation of seal-fishery interactions at sea 

Interactions between seals and fisheries include depredation of catches and bycatch of seals. Depredation is an issue for static net fisheries in particular, that can lead to significant economic costs to fishermen and seal mortality so this project sought to identify non-lethal deterrent options for deployment at sea. Gear modifications and fishing tactic changes were explored but little evidence was found for their efficacy. Engagement with fishers reinforced these findings. Deterrent techniques such as Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs) used in aquaculture appeared the most viable alternative and a novel application of an Acoustic Startle Device (ASD) was selected for trials in collaboration with the fishing industry and device developers. The challenge for practical commercial application will require further technical development, optimisation of the combination of the number of units, ease of use and duty cycle coverage for fisheries and consideration of any adverse environmental effects, particularly noise introduction.

 27/05/2020 - Dr Kara Layton (Aberdeen University) - Using genomics to investigate climate change response in marine species

Understanding how species will respond to climate change is critically important given the current biodiversity crisis. Here, I will demonstrate the power of genomic data and machine learning approaches for investigating past and future climate-linked loss, using Arctic Charr (Salvelinus alpinus) from northeastern Canada as a case study. I will discuss potential impacts on food security as well as future directions for this work, including applying these methodologies more broadly across marine organisms and ecosystems.

 20/05/2020 - Dr Clive Fox (SAMS) - Scotland’s experimental electrofishery for razor clams – developments and progress

Electrofishing is a relatively new technique in the marine environment but has proved a controversial issue. I’ll briefly describe what has happened in the southern North Sea with the Dutch pulse-trawl fishery before moving on to describe the history of Scotland’s electrofishery for razor clams. I’ll cover the biology and ecology of the species, describe the history of the fishery and update on progress being made with conducting surveys of the stocks. Finally, I’ll describe how the fishery has been affected by the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

13/05/2020 - Dr Georgios Kazanidis (Edinburgh University) - Implementing European marine policies in the deep waters of the North Atlantic 

The deep sea is the largest biome on Earth but the least explored. The implementation of marine policies and support for Blue Growth in the deep sea are hindered by this limited knowledge. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive is the ambitious strategy of the European Commission aiming to achieve clean, healthy, productive and biologically diverse waters in Europe. Its implementation, however, up to now in the deep areas (>200 m water depth) of the North Atlantic is very limited. This is a major gap as deep-sea areas in the North Atlantic host extremely fragile marine ecosystems which provide a wealth of goods and services. Addressing this major gap, the ATLAS project ( has brought together an international group of experts working on key deep-sea areas in the North Atlantic. ATLAS has suggested a list of indicators for the assessment of deep-sea environmental status, evaluated the usefulness of the Nested Environmental status Assessment Tool and identified challenges and opportunities for the implementation of marine policies and stimulation of Blue Growth in the deep sea 

06/5/2020 - Dr Bee Berx (Marine Scotland Science) - The Great Interactive Climate Change Quiz

Join us for an interactive quiz on all things climate change! Test your knowledge of climate change and its impacts in Scotland, as well as your knowledge of how our lifestyles impact greenhouse gas emissions.  Using an online platform, you’ll be able to submit your answers and see how you fare against the rest of the MASTS community!

 29/4/2020 - Meadhbh Moriarty (Marine Scotland Science) - Evaluation of multiple coupled biological-physical models in Loch Linnhe 

Sea lice are ubiquitous, endemic ectoparasites of salmonids, e.g. Atlantic salmon, and are a constraint on the sustainable growth of Scottish marine salmonid aquaculture. They can become a pest on farmed populations, and have detrimental effects on farmed and wild salmonids, including mortality if untreated. Due to their planktonic larval stages, lice can be transmitted over distances of over several kilometres, so they require area rather than farm level management. One of the most important tools in our arsenal to help understand area interactions, in order to mitigate negative effects of sea lice on aquaculture and wild salmonids, is using coupled bio-physical models to calculate dispersal rates of sea lice from farms. Using coupled bio-physical models allows us to test different scenarios for treatments and inform monitoring within management areas. A number of state-of-the-art hydrodynamic models have been developed in Scotland, which, when coupled with a biological model, can be used to inform on dispersal rates of sea lice. Currently three different coupled physical models exist (one in POLCOMS, two in FVCOM) which can be used coupled with various biological particle tracking software to calculate dispersal rates of sea lice. Loch Linnhe is Scotland’s largest fjordic system, the location of 10* farms, is an area that has been intensively studied for decades, and therefore makes an ideal system for model comparison. The aim of our work is to assess the simulated dynamics of three models and to discuss the response of the coupled bio-physical models to changing physical conditions (in each hydrodynamic model) and sea lice dispersal rates (in each lice dispersal model) during the study reference periods. Then carry out a consistent and comprehensive comparison of the model results, validating them with field data, while taking account of uncertainties in the different models. *Number of active farms during the study reference periods

22/4/2020 - Dr Tavis Potts (University of Aberdeen) - Participatory mapping for natural capital

In recent years, there has been an increasing international effort to better understand the diversity and quality of marine natural capital, services and societal benefits in coastal settings. The 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment recognised the need to consider multiple values of ecosystem functions and nature’s contributions to people, and recent policy initiatives such as the UK Government 25 Year Plan and Scottish Government Environmental Strategy place natural capital at the centre of decision making. This seminar explores an approach to engaging coastal communities and stakeholders in natural capital decisions, based on the Matrix Approach to Ecosystem Services (Potts et al 2014) and Natural Capital Participatory Mapping (Burdon et al 2019). Participatory mapping is a direct means of co-producing knowledge with stakeholders and communities which allows spatial mapping of ecosystem features, benefits and values on a local scale. It can provide a rich data set relating to ecosystem service distribution, values and trade-offs. In the context of ecosystem services valuation and mapping, stakeholders provide local, spatially explicit information about ecosystem service provision, use and value (both monetary and non-monetary), negating the need to use proxy data derived from literature or modelling. This information supports social learning and engagement with natural capital concepts, testing scenarios and trade-offs and identifies how benefits are distributed in local settings and groups. The seminar will give an overview of the development of the methodology and the application to the Deben estuary in Suffolk as a part of the Defra Marine Pioneer programme.

15/04/2020 - Prof David Paterson (University of St Andrews) -Decommissioning and the ecology of oil rigs.

The Oslo and Paris Commissions (OSPAR) decision 98/3, prohibits the dumping of whole or partial man-made structures (MMS), such as oil rigs, offshore. However, there are regions of the world where MMS are recognised as providing an ecological and societal benefit through the provision of local ecosystem goods and services. This talk provides a commentary on our current understanding of the ecological influence of oil-rigs and some other man-made structures and the consequences of their decommissioning and recognises that our knowledge is far from complete. The co-author of this work is Dr Irene Fortune.

 08/04/2020 - Dr Simon Waldman (University of Hull) - Future policy implications of large-scale tidal array interactions  

When tidal energy arrays are deployed at large scales, they will affect each other and affect the flows in their channels in ways that raise challenges for planning, policy and governance which have not yet been addressed.  If we are to obtain the maximum possible energy yield for a given level of environmental impact – or the minimum level of impact for a given amount of power – strategic planning will be necessary. The ability of large tidal farms to interact with one another introduces issues around both commercial and environmental liability that should be addressed before developments reach this scale. In this talk we will review key findings about the physics of large-scale tidal energy for a broad audience, explore the implications for policy and marine planning, and look at some possible management approaches. We argue that an interventionist approach is necessary if the available resource is to be optimally managed.

 01/04/2020 - Dr Leslie Mabon (SAMS) - Nine years on from the Fukushima Dai’ichi nuclear accident: how is Fukushima's coastal fishing society faring?  

The 2011 Fukushima Dai’ichi nuclear accident, triggered by the Great North-East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, is the largest ever release of radioactive material into the marine environment. The nuclear accident and subsequent suspension of coastal fisheries has had profound impacts on people living on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, who rely on fishing for not only livelihood but also a sense of identity and pride. In this seminar, I share insights from new fieldwork with fishers, fisheries officers and coastal communities in Fukushima, carried out over autumn and winter 2019-2020 with Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. I look in particular at how the accident and suspension of fisheries continues to affect the daily lives of fishers and their families, and how the restart of fisheries on a trial basis has supported communities' social and cultural recovery. I also provide an overview of the current controversy around releasing tritium-contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.