Shell cultch deployment and Modiolus translocation
The Modiolus Restoration Research Group (MRRG) were obliged to identify methodologies aimed at restoring the biogenic Modiolus reef feature in Strangford Lough in the event of natural recovery failing to achieve a trend towards ‘Favourable Conservation Status’ (FCS). As a result 10 tonnes of scallop shell was sourced and bagged and used to create eight experimental cultch reef features. Deployment ropes were attached and cultch bags were lowered to the seabed until the plot tonnage had been achieved. MRRG divers then constructed reef features and translocated M. modiolus onto the cultch. Initial colonisation of the plots has started with several species of mobile fauna regularly recorded during monitoring surveys including sea squirts, hydroids, crabs and fish species.The cultch deployment and translocation of M.modiolus by MRRG was given the approval of DARD and DOE as an integral part of the Modiolus Restoration Plan and is the only proactive mussel restoration experiment initiated in Europe. We can confidently say that it has undeniably been the most ambitious field experiment in terms of scale undertaken by Queen's University Belfast in Strangford Lough.
MRRG and QUB HSE qualified divers ensured that the scallop bags had reached the bottom on an upright position. The bags were connected by ropes and carefully positioned to create raised and flatenned reefs (photo: Jose Maria Fariñas/MRRG)
Clean scallop shell was used as a substrate where translocated horse mussels could attach and form a stable biogenic reef. In turn these clumps of adult horse mussels will serve as an appropiate niche where juvenile horse mussels can settle therefore increasing natural recruitment to the area (photo: Jose Maria Fariñas/MRRG).
The horse mussels bind together using byssal threads creating a biogenic reef where other fauna such as hydroids, sea squirts, feather stars and sponges will attach. After the reef was created in January 2010 biodiversity in the area has substantially increased with crustaceans, echinoderms and fish species regularly observed by divers (photo: Jose Maria Fariñas/MRRG).