Studying life in and around mussel beds is difficult as they are so hard to reach - but they can be watched.
Imares Texel will be doing just that as of this week, using three cameras. It is working with NIOZ, SOVON and the Coast & Sea society, among others. The first camera on a pole was installed on 31 August.
It was placed off the north-east coast of Texel, near Cocksdorp, at the site of one of the Mosselwad recovery project's mussel beds. The ten metre high pole is equipped with a sophisticated video system allowing researchers to watch sandbanks and mussel beds in the Wadden Sea around the clock. A second pole is expected to be installed at Brakzand, a mussel bed south of Schiermonnikoog, at the end of the year. A third pole will follow next year at a planned mussel bed in the western part of the Wadden Sea.
When the tide is out the camera records birds' foraging behaviour and the forms and patterns of the mussel bed. When the tide is in, it records how the water flows over the bed. The camera has an infra-red feature, allowing night-time recordings as well. The pole can be controlled from the shore. The first images have already been received and a selection will soon be available for viewing at the www.mosselwad.nl.
Mosselwad is a Wadden Fund project, aimed at helping the recovery of mussel beds in the Wadden Sea. It does this by creating new mussel beds and studying their development. The plan is for the results of the current study to be incorporated in the Guide to the Recovery and Management of Mussel Beds.
The mussel camera is not the first such camera Imares has used to study life on the mudflats. Last year, in January, a similar camera was placed off the Den Helder coast at Balgzand to record the foraging behaviour of birds on the mudflats.