The latest temperature and salinity data for L4 and E1 are now available as easy to view plots.  The above shows the series for 2016 (asterisks) compared with the average (solid line: period 1903 – present) and standard deviation (dashed line).  As for 2015 the winter and autumn were markedly warm with a cooler spring period.  This is reflected throughout the water column.

The salinity at E1 was on average about 0.1 PSU above the long-term average, possibly indicative of a dry year and / or greater influence of open Atlantic water pushing in from the west.

Following more than a year of downtime the Penlee Point webcam is now back and live (about an hour behind time).  Check out:


The following from Andrea McEvoy:

100 zooplankton samples were taken and analysed which represents 50 time points for the year.

January 2016 saw the appearance of many mystery fibres at L4. Pennie and Maddie also sampled them at various points around the Sound and in the Plym. I think Alice (Pennie’s student) traced them down to be linen.

Unusual entoproct larvae appeared in Dec 2015 and throughout Jan/Feb 2016. They are tiny sessile solitary or colonial organisms. They are not well studied. They have been seen at L4 and at Milbay Marina before but have not been formally recorded in the database before.

Bolinopsis(Ctenophore) appeared in June, this was a new record for the L4 database as was Proboscidactyla stellate(Hydrozoa).

Bolinopsis probably wasn’t noted before because it is very fragile and breaks up easily during sampling.

I received the following from Gerald Boalch and thought it would be good to post on the blog. I was under the mistaken impression that the “L” in “L4” was named after the Lumby sampler, and assumed this was a scientist from the MBA (which may still be correct). Intrigued – read on …

The hydrographic stations were first set up in 1910 when ICES set up a programme of sampling stations around Europe on a regular basis. Each nation had a set of stations to sample every quarter and the ones set for MBA were labelled E for England, Scottish ones were labelled S and so on. The first set of E stations were E1,E2 and E3, these were in a line from Plymouth to Ushant. If you look at the ICES reports for the 1910 period onwards you will see the details, otherwise the reports in the JMBA by Armstrong Butler and Boalch from 1964 onwards give details of the stations as we used to work these three. There were other E stations heading up from Ushant towards the Irish Sea. The L stations were Local stations worked by the MBA on the way to E1, I think they were L 1 to L6. They had no connection with Lumby. We used to use the Lumby sampler for surface samples at most stations. When we were doing the Western Channel surveys we worked a three watch system right through the 24 hours and the system was that 10 minutes before arriving at the station the bridge would send a crew member to put out the Lumby and that crew member would then find the scientist on watch ant tell him the Lumby was out and we would be on station in 10 minutes so that the scientist could get ready to do what ever sampling was required. The Lumby also had the advantage that a surface sample could be taken even if the captain said it was not safe to stop the ship and work a station.

Thought it would be worth a follow-up showing how much the temperature varies at L4 during the day (at the moment).  Unsurprisingly there is a very strong diurnal cycle at the moment with typical temperature differences (measured at around 1.5 m) being around 1 degC.  The most extreme difference was on 25 July where the temperature varied around 3.5 degC.  This was a combination of strong solar insolation (near perfect solar trace from the SPN1), little in the way of wind (< 2 m/s) and warm air temperatures (22 degC).  The data from the buoy are reported every hour, and shows the real value of having near-continuous data being streamed back from L4.


Last 11 days temperature measured at L4 buoy



Temperature and PAR – last 7 days: L4 buoy


Windspeed and direction – last 7 days: L4 buoy

28th Jul, 2014

E1 and L4 temperatures

There has been quite a bit of attention in the media recently about the warm sea temperatures around the coast. Below see the plots for L4 and E1, updated with the most recent data. It shows that there is much more variability at L4 due to the strong effects of the tides. At E1 the temperatures are close to the maximum ever recorded (1908, 1976 and 1983 seem to be ahead at the moment).  To view the images properly you will need to click on them … asterisks represent the measurements made this year.

L4 temperature series (1988 – 2014)












E1 temperature series – surface and 50 m (1903 – 2014)


This time last year I posted a blog titled, “It’s Phaeocystis time again”. Well, they’re back and it’s exactly the same scenario as last year: timing of the bloom, presence of both P. globosa and P. pouchetii and large numbers of single cells (>25,000 per mL), particularly at 25 and 50 m depth, indicating the sinking and breaking up of colonies. This gets reflected in the fluorescence profile from the CTD, which changes from being a well defined line to a widely spaced cluster of data points which broadens with depth (check out the L4 CTD profile for 19 May 2014). There are still large numbers of colonies at the surface though. Coastal waters around Plymouth are looking a greeny brown colour and, on Sunday whilst out gig rowing between the River Yealm and the Mewstone off Wembury Point near Plymouth it was possible to see individual colonies floating in a cupped handful of seawater.

Given the presence of large numbers of Sunfish and the sighting of a big Leatherback turtle at the Eddystone, both chasing (!?) Jellyfish, is there anything that has changed with the water mass in the WEC recently? (Simon Thomas – 12 July 2013)

Numbers of Blue Sharks at record highs in the region off Plymouth (Glen Tarran – 17 July 2013)

The recent sustained hot weather has allowed large differences between the surface waters and deeper in the water column temperatures to build up. The temperature difference between the surface and the sea-bed at E1 is now 6 degrees C, varying between 18 degrees at the surface and 12 degrees at the bottom.

12th Jun, 2013

E1 Buoy Deployment

Despite heavy seas, 2.5m swell height, we managed yesterday to get out to the E1 station and successfully deploy a new buoy system.  The deployment was carried out by the Trinity House Vessel Patricia with the whole exercise being extremely slick and professional.  The mooring design for this buoy consisted of an 8 ton weight connected to the buoy with approximately 230m of chain.  When constructing a mooring the weak points tend to be the shackles used for connecting the various components together.  On board the Patricia we witnessed the method used to seize the shackles closed; once the shackle was connected in position the pin was heated until it glowed red hot and then two, large men, beat the pin with sledge hammers to mushroom it and thus prevent it from ever being undone.

The E1 Buoy is a collaboration between the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the UK MET Office, replacing the existing PML buoy with a new purpose built platform incorporating the requirements of both organisations.  This deployment is the culmination of a project that has taken some 18 months from initial planning to final implementation and marks the commencement of a new collaboration with the UK MET office and particularly their marine division.  The project has highlighted a positive way forward in the sharing of expertise to deliver a state of the art multi user platform, thus saving on cost and maximising the potential of these systems.  It is hoped that the E1 buoy is the start of many more future collaborations between the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the UK MET office in marine and environmental monitoring.

The UK MET Office is responsible for the meteorological parameters air temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, wave height and wave direction on the buoy.  The Plymouth Marine Laboratory has brought expertise to this project in the measurement of oceanographic parameters and is reporting hourly the sea temperature, salinity, dissolved Oxygen, Chlorophyll fluorescence, turbidity, Coloured Dissolved Organic Material (CDOM), Nitrate and Photosynthetic Available Radiation (PAR).  The data is already being received by both organisations and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory is currently working to present this data hourly on the Western Channel Observatory website.