On Thursday 14th June, 22 Year 12 biologists, accompanied by Mrs McKernan and Mrs Firth, went to Helwell Bay, Watchet on the North Devon coast to use their field techniques in studying the ecology of a rocky shore.
Although it rained on the way there, the sun came out as we arrived on the shore, resulting in a warm and breezy afternoon. The students had to conduct two experiments; the first to compare the biodiversity of the upper shore with the lower shore and the second to investigate the distribution and abundance of organisms along a transect line from close to the water’s edge to the cliffs. The upper shore was surveyed quickly and then as the tide needed to go out further, we broke for a pleasant lunch sitting in the sunshine out of the breeze.
After clearing away we started scrambling over the rocks and through rock pools to get to the water’s edge. Eventually, we settled for a start position on the lower middle shore and surveyed the lower shore for the biodiversity investigation. The teams then commenced the surveying for a transect, determining the quadrat position using a cross-staff to give a one metre rise in height above sea level. Each team soon sorted out an efficient system and progressed up the shore to the cliffs, collecting data.
Once all the field work was completed, we walked back to the coach and then around the harbour to a very nice ice-cream shop! Here we all enjoyed a well deserved 45-minute break in the sunshine, discussing some of the patterns they had observed; the girls greatly enjoyed the opportunity to study such an interesting ecosystem, many commenting that it had made the theory and grassland fieldwork 'come alive'. The data collected will form the basis of a report to be written by each student as part of their required practical skills for A Level Biology.