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					  The University Marine Biological Station

      The Millport Association Newsletter
Welcome to issue 3 of The Ark, the newsletter for members of the
Millport Association.

The Ark is named after the converted barge, which was drawn up onto the
shore not far from the present site in 1885 at the instigation of the
Cumbrae Naturalist, David Robertson, to establish the “Millport Marine
Station”. The Ark provided a base for pioneering marine biological
studies and attracted a stream of distinguished scientists during a 12-year
period prior to the construction of the Station’s first permanent buildings.

Aimed at keeping residents, alumni and station supporters informed of
our work and activities, we hope you will find this issue of interest.

Contents (link to full document here):
  • An Update: The New Aora
  • The Librarian: New Accessions
  • Welcome to:          Katrin Kronenberger
                         Paula Low
  • Profile              Dr Samantha Muir
• Two New Research Studentships Available
An Update: The New Aora                     No sooner had Aora arrived at UMBSM
                                            than plans for her official “naming”
                                            were underway.
It’s been another busy year for staff and
students alike at UMBSM. Once again
                                            A date was arranged, guest lists were
we have played host to schools, colleges
                                            drawn up and invitations ordered and
and universities from all over the UK as
                                            sent, and by the evening of Thursday the
well as overseas visitors from Germany
                                            29th of May, we were, in theory, ready
and America.
                                            to roll. Friday the 30th dawned bright
                                            and clear, but, as the time for the guests
A glorious summer of weather provided
                                            to arrive drew nearer, so did the storm
excellent field conditions, and as
                                            clouds! HRH The Princess Royal and
UMBSM caters for more marine
                                            Chancellor of the University of London,
biology students than any other higher
                                            was our guest of honour and was
education institute in the UK, we’ve
                                            performing the official naming of RV
been bursting at the seams!
                                            Aora. As word came through that she
                                            was on her way, we watched anxiously
For Professor Atkinson, Lecturer and
                                            as the skies grew ever darker. Due to
Ships Husband, Tom Stevenson,
                                            arrive at the far end of town, by
Research Assistant, Mick Parker,
                                            helicopter, we listened in horror as
Skipper and the crew of RV Aora the
                                            thunder crashed and lightening lit up an
early months of 2003 were particularly
                                            otherwise black sky!
busy as together with MacDuff
Shipyards Ltd and MacDuff Ship
Design Ltd the finishing touches were       Yet, miraculously, we received word
put to UMBSM’s new 22 metre research        that she had landed safely and was
vessel, also named RV Aora!                 heading through town! Yet more
                                            miraculous was the fact that, as she
After months of telephone calls,            stepped out of the car, impeccably
meetings, faxes, e-mails and UMBSM          dressed for the weather and the occasion
vehicles shuttling between Millport and     the thunder and lightening stopped and
MacDuff in the North East of Scotland       the rain, which had been torrential up
RV Aora sailed into Keppel Pier on          until this point, began to ease!
Saturday the 12th of April 2003!

RV Aora
Built to UMBSM specifications to fulfil
a variety of roles in marine research,
surveying, equipment        trials and
education, she is capable of trawling       HRH The Princess Royal, with
(single/twin rig), beam/dredge towing,      Professor Atkinson (holding the striped
water sampling, acoustic survey and         umbrella), as she prepares to perform
underwater TV work.                         the official naming ceremony
As with all well planned events,
something had to go wrong and on this
occasion it was the microphone that
refused to work! However, in due
course, Aora was named, and while the
assembled guests made their way over
to the hostel dining room for a warm
cup of tea and a chance to dry out, the
Chancellor was given a tour of the new
vessel and an opportunity to speak with
the skipper and crew.

On shore the weather continued to
                                           The Princess Royal meets (from left to
improve rapidly, and by the time the
                                           right) Dr. Jim Bryson (medical
Princess Royal disembarked and was
                                           advisor), Stephen Muir and Kenny
shown      around     UMBSM’s       new
                                           Cameron (UMBSM divers) and Dr
recompression chamber, in typical
                                           Philip Smith (UMBSM Diving Officer)
Scottish style, the sun was out, and the
day actually getting too warm!
                                           After an intensive tour of the facility it
                                           was over to the Hostel dining room for a
                                           well-earned cup of tea with assembled
                                           |An “inside
                                           view”    of

                                           warmer, drier, and after speeches from
                                           Professor Graham Zellick, the Vice-
HRH The Princess Royal heads to the
                                           Chancellor of the University of London,
new      recompression     chamber
                                           Dr Ormond, UMBSM Director and
accompanied by Dr Rupert Ormond,
                                           HRH the Princess Royal herself, it was
Director (foreground) and Professor
                                           time to unveil the plaques that would be
RJA Atkinson (rear left).
                                           installed in the chamber and on board
                                                                    RV Aora at a
Yet another addition to UMBSM’s
                                                                    later date.
facilities is the two-man, two-
compartment recompression chamber,
which replaces its twenty-five year old
predecessor. This too has been purpose-
built, to the design specifications of                               Her Royal
Chief Diver and Specimen Supply                                      Highness
Officer Phil Lonsdale. On 24 hour                                    unveils the
stand-by in the charge of a qualified                                plaques.
hyperbaric paramedic, the chamber will
be also used to treat diving emergencies
from throughout the region.
                                                   Alternative shellfish fisheries such as
The Librarian: New Accessions                      those for crabs, squat lobsters and,
                                                   recently, razor clams, are important to
Good luck to Kathryn Stevenson our resident        small-scale fishers on the west coast of
Librarian who is now on maternity leave            Scotland. However, species that are
pending the birth of twins! Kathryn and her        targeted with little understanding of their
husband Tom, a research assistant here at          basic biology and ecology can result in a
UMBSM already have two young sons.                 boom-and-bust fishery, with devastating
Marie-Louise Berry has joined us once again        effects on the population as a whole.
to provide maternity leave for Kathryn.            Over the last 3 years my PhD has
                                                   investigated the biology of two
                                                   commercially exploited, but little
Congratulations also to Sam and Stephen            understood, razor-clam species in
Muir who are also expecting their first baby in    Scotland, Ensis siliqua and E. arcuatus;
February. Sam has been a research student          colloquially known as 'spootfish'. This
here at UMBSM for the last four years and          research has benefited from the
met her husband Stephen whilst on a field          assistance of commercial shellfish divers
trip. Stephen subsequently moved to UMBSM          in the Clyde Sea area, the Highlands and
to take up a diving post.                          the Western Isles and has involved over
                                                   250 individual scuba dives on razor-clam
Welcome to new Ph.D. students                      beds. My thesis has now been completed
                                                   (awaiting examination!) and it is hoped
Katrin Kronenberger                                that the results of my research will
Previously employed by the Senckenberg             provide data to assist in the generation of
Research Institute in Frankfurt am Main,           management recommendations with
studying the population dynamics of Galathea       which to provide a framework for the
intermedia in the North Sea, Katrin joined         future regulation of the razor-clam
UMBSM as a new PhD student earlier this            fishery. This is important to ensure not
year. She is investigating the functional          only the protection of the species, but
morphology of various secretory glands in          also the optimal, sustainable exploitation
amphipods.                                         of razor-clam stocks as an alternative
                                                   shellfish fishery.
Paula Low
“My previous employment was with the
Centre of Aquaculture and Fisheries Sciences
                                                   New Research Studentships
(CEFAS) in Lowestoft, where I worked on the        The Marine Station is inviting
Salmon lifecycles and fisheries, and the           applications by January 5th 2004 for
effects of climate change in the North Sea. I      two     Sheina     Marshall   research
joined UMBSM in May, and my research is            studentships, to begin in the spring.
now focussed on the conservation and               These will be for research within the
fisheries management of the native oyster          subject areas of fish or crustacea or
Ostrea edulis, in association with the United      plankton or microorganisms. One will
Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan. This             be supervised by Dr. Fiona Hannah, the
project will last for 3 years until April 2006.”   other by Dr. Phil Smith.
                                                   For further details of the studentships
Profile: Dr Samantha Muir                          and of the potential research topics
                                                   please the relevant page on our website
Dr Samantha Muir has just completed her  , or contact
Ph.D. entitled “The biology of razor clams         Ms. Tracy Price (01475-530581 or
(Ensis spp.) and their emergent fishery on the
west coast of Scotland”. She explains:

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