Since 2008 Dr Emma Sheehan, Professor Martin Attrill, and a host of students and research assistants at the University of Plymouth have monitored the return of life to the reef after years of bottom towed fishing. By ‘flying’ a towed high-definition camera above the seabed every summer since 2008, they have been able to paint a picture that shows dramatic recovery and is informing management and monitoring strategies for future MPAs in the UK and other temperate regions.
Over a decade of research has shown a measurable revival of the reefs, rare species and commercial fish stocks within the Lyme Bay Reserve. Between 2008 and 2013 there had been a four-fold increase in the diversity of reef species, a doubling of scallop landings, a quadrupling of juvenile lobsters and the abundance of protected pink sea fan had increased seven-fold.
When the area was hit by extreme storms in 2014 the recovering community was severely damaged, but research by the University of Plymouth shows how the reefs are bouncing back far quicker than previous recovery rates following initial protection of the area indicating how the MPA has increased the resilience of the reef ecosystem. Results from this study were published in 2021 in Frontiers for Marine Science.
You can read more about the research in the reports here: Download Centre
Here are a few videos describing some of the amazing research in the Lyme Bay Reserve:
Baited Remote Underwater Video highlights
Long-term monitoring RETURN
Lyme Bay monitoring 10th anniversary celebration