Recording Marine Life

Settling on Scylla

Scylla is an ex-Royal Navy frigate that was placed on the seabed in Whitsand Bay, south Cornwall on 27 March 2004 as a reef for recreational diving. Scylla has provided the opportunity to study colonisation sequence and the time-of year that particular species settle. Such information is important for understanding potential recovery times of damaged ecosystems and to identify those species that will settle and grow rapidly through to those that are unlikely to settle on new or damaged surfaces and should therefore be considered as sensitive to disturbance.

The Marine Biological Association, in collaboration with the National Marine Aquarium and the Seasearch survey programme, joined forces to make long-term records of colonization on Scylla. A total of 257 taxa (species and species groups) had been identified from Scylla by the fifth anniversary of her sinking and the marine life colonizing the vessel was, by then, considered a mature steel wreck community. It was timely to bring together observations of the sequence of marine life settling on Scylla into a scientific paper and that was published in February 2010 (see reference below).

Scylla has now been on the seabed for more than 10 years and observations of the marine life associated with the reef continue to be recorded so that we can better understand the dynamics of such communities.

The Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN) would like to hear of any observations of marine life that you think might be new on Scylla or of observations such as egg laying or nest-building (e.g. wrasse). You can send in your records by linking to the 'Recording marine life' pages.

Download Dr Keith Hiscock's presentation: Revealing the reef: marine life settling on ex-HMS Scylla PDF File (9.2 MB)

Hiscock, K., Sharrock, S., Highfield, J. & Snelling, D. 2010. Colonisation of an artificial reef in south-west England – ex-HMS Scylla. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 90, 69-94.