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Autumnwatch: Ask Maya Plass a question

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 17:59 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

Our guest presenter for the 11 November show is marine biologist and beachlife enthusiast Maya Plass.

Maya Plass has always been fascinated by the sea. With a background in education and conservation, she works non-stop to raise awareness of the plight of our seas. She spends her days running marine conservation workshops and beach cleans, and when she isn’t sharing her passion with others, she’ll be found at the beach exploring.

Maya Plass on the beach by Scott Tibbles

Maya in her element © Scott Tibbles

We’ll be joining Maya at her local patch in Devon to find out what the seaside has in store now that the ice cream parlours are closing and the buckets and spades are packed away for the winter. We’ll discover nature’s natural beach combers and see what the autumn storms wash up on our shores.

If you’ve got any questions about strange seaside discoveries you’ve made or amazing wildlife beach stories of your own that you’d like to share, please let us know by commenting below.


  • Comment number 1.

    Springwatch is traditionall followed by Springwatch Unsprung - a great play on words!
    I would suggest that Autumnwatch should be followed by a different play on words - so, I suggest Autumnwatch Fallout perhaps?

  • Comment number 2.

    Where is Kate?
    Why isn't it even mentioned why she is absent this week on the blog?

  • Comment number 3.

    Why do most fish have gills but Dolphins and Whales don't, why haven't they evolved to have gills.

  • Comment number 4.

    @JohnW - Kate said in last week's programme that she would be away this week on her own business (no details given). MHG stood in for her.

    I'd like to ask the team to mention the plastic things which bind together 4 tins of beer or similar. Please could you ask people to make sure they cut these up before binning, as many creatures can get stuck in the loops. I've picked these up on beaches along with other rubbish & with the festive season approaching a reminder about cutting the loop bits might be good.

    I'd like to ask Maya what she thinks about the state of litter on our beaches around the UK. Beach cleanups take place, people are made more aware, but is litter on the increase or are we winning a tiny piece of the war?

  • Comment number 5.

    In the pub quiz, uphill oak tree propogation was answered as being both by jays and squirrels, but I understood squirrels bite off the the 'germ' part of the acorn prior to burial so it doesn't sprout, in which case jays (but not squirrels) would be the correct answer

  • Comment number 6.

    I was so excited that I yelled out aloud "Leucocloridium paradoxum" and frightened the cat. Fantastic footage of my favourite parasite. I just never expected to see it on Autumn Watch.... (I'm talking about the snail parasite in the pub quiz.)

    I appreciate that parasitic life styles are difficult to cover - springtails are pretty much at the smallest end of the scale for Autumn Watch, but perhaps someone could commission a new series. I would suggest focusing on modes of transmission. Chris Packham could be in poo heaven eg. beef tapeworm segments have to be mobile because cattle avoid grazing near human poo, whilst pork tapeworm segments don't need to be mobile because of pig behaviour!! For the same reason, larvae of Dictyocaulus viviparus (cattle lungworms)climb up onto fungal sporangiophores and get exploded away from the cowpat with the fungal spores, or hitch a lift with flies.

    Lots of parasites key into host circadian rythms or hormones. Others change host behaviour. For example, Leucocloridium paradoxum causes the land snails to move out into sunlight so that they are more obvious to passing birds.

    I could go on and on, so I'll finish by saying thank you for that amazing footage.

  • Comment number 7.

    hi , i have been wondering if the fish, crabs ect that you find in the rock pools actually stay in them or do they come in and out with the tide? i am lucky enough to live by a beach in combe martin north devon and regularly take my son down to explore rock pools , in one rock pool we have spotted a couple of eels that came out from under the rock and a distinctive crab that only had 1 leg on the right side of its body, these were in the same rock pool every time we were there ... i am hoping to try an experiment and mark some crabs with nail varnish to see how many stay in the same place :)
    thank you
    nina x

  • Comment number 8.

    I started a thread on the messageboard called "Intertidal wildlife habitats" here

    My post included a link to a photograph of a Sabellaria alveolata reef. I think it shows some live worms in the tubes but am not certain. They can, I think, be seen on the large version of the photo available on Flickr but I can provide you with the bigger original size if you wish. I would like to know if there are live worms in this reef.

    It was also suggested on the messageboard thread that they might not survive the winter. I would be interested in any information you can give about this or the life of these creatures in general.

  • Comment number 9.

    What do you think is the ONE thing we can do to save our sea's????
    alex berryman

  • Comment number 10.

    If an arm came off a starfish would the
    arm grow back and would the arm that came off
    the starfish grow into another starfish.

  • Comment number 11.

    We think of amphibians being freshwater creatures, but there are often reports of toads being found on beaches and amphibains being found in sand dunes.
    Is the salt a problem for them, an will they actually spawn or lay eggs in rockpools?
    Or are they just there during their terrestrail period and use the beach for hunting?

    ps Thanks for asking my question...but I would have thought pippistrelles would have been higher up the list!

  • Comment number 12.

    Maya as a Marine Conservationist, do you believe that we will succeed in conserving the Oceans?

    My point being that greed seems to be getting in the way...

  • Comment number 13.

    *as in destruction for the sake of greed...

  • Comment number 14.

    although I'm living in Switzerland at present, I would like to ask a question which arises from watching Birds Britannia: Someone on the programme said his garden birds died when feeding them peanuts in the 1970s. I fed the birds on my balcony (I'm living in the City of Zurich) peanuts all last winter because they LOVE them. Are peanuts still poinous to birds?
    Claire in Zurich

  • Comment number 15.

    Are peanuts still poisonous to birds like mentioned in Birds Britannia?
    Claire in Zurich

  • Comment number 16.

    watched a blue tit checking out a nesting box this morning only to see a few minuites later great tits going in and out.
    Is this usual for this time of year?.

  • Comment number 17.

    hi maya

    have you seen a burbot?

    what is their situation these days? in uk waters or elsewhere.

    all the best

  • Comment number 18.

    On Saturday i attempted to go beachcombing in Southport,i say attempted as the tide was in,it's a joke Up North as the tides always miles out and no-one sees a high tide.
    Anyway back to the subject,on a 10 minute walk along the 2 yard strip of sand we found:-
    2 trainers,not matching
    1 shoe
    Several plastic bottles
    An old glass bottle
    A fishing rod bag
    1 carrier bag,surprise as we usually see loads.
    Lots of burnt tree branches
    Best of all a table leg????

    I did manage to get a heart shaped rock and a couple of shells.

    My best find ever was a tusk about 14 months ago,not sure what species.
    What's your best find and your most unusual find on British beaches?

  • Comment number 19.

    I was wondering if the process of ocean acidification is hitting uk shellfish and mollusks in juvenile or adult stages, and if its hitting other sensitive species of fish like for instance seahorses, which use a lot of keratin in their structure? I know we don't have much in the way of reef, but I'm thinking that a lot of planktonic life that depends on the accumulation of calcite minerals might be having trouble hanging onto it due to ph erosion? Is this as much a concern for british oceans as it is for more tropical seas?

  • Comment number 20.

    Hello Maya

    Wanted to know are we seeing more and more different species within our marine life as global warming continues. We see it on land with various birds, butterflies and insects, does it go on beneath the waves too and if so what are we seeing?

  • Comment number 21.

    Good Evening,
    A question(s) for Maya Plass:

    Recently [Countryfile last Sunday], I heard about how Mackerel living in British waters have relatively defined areas where they spawn and migrate to. Is this the case with other saltwater fish?
    Do they all tend to spawn in the shallows?
    Will this help with the formation of Marine Conservation Zones / Parks?


  • Comment number 22.

    hi maya,
    i was wondering, when you are at the beach are there crabs unders the sand frequently or do they only stay there when the tide is in/out?

  • Comment number 23.

    What is the best find Maya has ever had on a beach? Aisling, aged 10, Liverpool

  • Comment number 24.

    have you found any fossils as you scour the beach

  • Comment number 25.

    Don't forget that tortoises also love cuttle fish! My African Spur Thighed Tortoises love the stuff!
    Victoria from Barnet

  • Comment number 26.

    question for Maya Plass; How do you become a marine biologist? What GCSE's, A levels etc would I need? which university would I need to go to or university course to take? It's something that I would love to do when \i leave school, many thanks from Sarah, age 11.

  • Comment number 27.

    Can you answer my question I found on my beach in bournmouth a load of see through small jelly blobs I can't find them in any jellyfish book please can you help
    Nicola age 13
    Also so it's my mums birthday today so could you say happy birthday to her as she is a big fan thank you

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Maya
    You have the most amazing job, I qualified as a Marine Biologist in 2005 from Portsmouth University and have been working in the waste management sector within the Midlands and I am wanting to persue my passion for marine life. How can I get back into this amazing subject and who can I talk to regarding this?
    Thank you so much

  • Comment number 29.

    Hi maya, i was on the beach in Donegal, Nort West Island and i found what looked like strange rocks. I picked one up and cracked it open. it was a jelly like substance inside. I think it might be a jelly fish egg but i'm not sure. Do you know what it could be?
    From irishdancermitch

  • Comment number 30.

    My son Ross (age 12) wants to know the difference between sea otters and fresh water otters and can one breed with the other.

  • Comment number 31.

    I am just watching you show fo the first .... I must say that its brill just what should be on TV instead all of this rality stuff which in my opinion is rubbish. I am now uned in and signed up and I would like to send sme pics of animals around my garden .... how can I do this?


  • Comment number 32.

    Hello Maya, I have a photo of an enormous creature that was washed up on Pendine Sands, Pembrokeshire. Taken while on holiday last June. It was about 2.5 feet wide at least, like a giant jellyfish, with what looked like a beak and tenticles with suckers??? It was opalescent white. How can I send a photo in for you to look at please?



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