Rising tides, aeroplanes and alien invaders!
Friday 7 March 2008
The Zoological Society of London works hard to grow and maintain its public profile, an important part of which is keeping news of its various activities in the media.
On Thursday ZSL’s Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme Manager, Alison Shaw, was out filming on location on the Thames for The One Show.
Monitoring and survey work carried out by Alison and her team has revealed the increasing growth in numbers of two invasive non-native species in the River Thames; zebra mussels and Chinese mitten crabs. BBC1’s The One Show had seen some newspaper stories about the work and decided it was an issue worth covering for their programme.
Filming began with a 9am start at Richmond Lock, south west London, with Alison joined by a ZSL press officer, the TV crew and programme presenter Mike. With the kind help of the Port of London Authority (PLA), the group spent two hours zipping up and down one of the most beautiful stretches of the Thames in London. Herons, cormorants, gulls and even parakeets are all common sights along the banks – as are the hundreds of burrowing holes made by Chinese mitten crabs. The holes in the riverbanks speed up the erosion of the banks, and the crabs themselves eat many of our native species so these alien invaders are bad news for Britain’s waterways.
From the boat it was straight over to Syon Park, where special access to the riverbank was the perfect filming location for the team…or it should have been!
As many people know, time and tide wait for no man – and certainly not for TV crews either. With filming on the boat having taken longer than anticipated, Alison and the crew arrived at Syon Park after the 11am low tide had turned back. Filming proved to be a real battle as the rising tide threatened to cover all evidence of the mitten crabs and wash Alison and the crew away! With a muddy race against time to complete filming before the creek being used filled completely with water, nearby Heathrow airport wasn’t much help. With low-flying aeroplanes going over every couple of minutes, filming had to be regularly halted until there was quiet again. Eventually, Alison’s filming was complete and it was back to the office, leaving the TV crew to work out how to finish their filming underwater!
Alison said: “It was a really good morning and because everyone was concentrating on not slipping over in the mud, getting wet or being drowned out by aeroplanes it stopped me feeling nervous in front of the camera. Instead of worrying about being word perfect, I was too busy worrying about staying upright as the tide rose around my wellies!”