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World Oceans Day 2002


Reports of marine wildlife from all around the British Isles, with pollution incidents and conservation initiatives as they affect the fauna and flora of the NE Atlantic Ocean.

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    Click Photograph by Roy Dale to enlarge the view26 June 2002
    A jellyfish was discovered alive in a rockpool on Worm's Head, the "wurm"-shaped rock island connected at low tide by a causeway to the western end of the Gower peninsular at the southern end of Rhossili Bay in south Wales. By comparing the size of the periwinkle in the pool the viewer can see the size is about 100 mm in diameter. The jellyfish has been identified as the Blue Jellyfish, Cyanea lamarckii. Inverted the jellyfish was white underneath. It quickly righted itself.
    Link to a higher resolution image

    Amongst the mixed rocks, another much larger jellyfish was also washed up dead. 
    Link to a higher resolution image

    Report by Roy Dale via UK Wildlife
    BMLSS Jellyfish
    BMLSS Cnidaria
    Cnidarian Mailing List

    22 June 2002
    The Phocine Distemper Virus has been identified as the cause of a new increased total of 461 Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, carcasses tested in Denmark, with a further 150 in Sweden and dead seals also recovered on the shores of the Netherlands.
    First Report for 2002
    Ananova News Report
    BMLSS Seals

    Any dead seals should be reported to the marine mammals stranding telephone line
    maintained by the Natural History Museum on 0207 942 5155 (24 hr answerphone).

    21 June 2002
    Summer Solstice  2:11 pm.

    20 June 2002
    Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was stranded alive on the south end of the beach at Ostend, Happisburgh, Norfolk, eastern England. A rescue attempt was made in the evening by the Norfolk coastguard and RSPCA, but sadly the whale beached and died overnight.
    The stranded whale is an adult male, with two protruding teeth, pale head and beak and shows extensive scarring over the dorsal surface, particularly between the blow hole and dorsal fin. This stranding is unusual for a deep water whale which on the rare occasions when they are washed up on western British coasts they are in a badly decomposed condition. 

    Earlier Report (probable)
    BMLSS Cetacea

    An estimated 30 plus Basking Sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, were seen this morning between Longships and Brisons off the south-west of Cornwall. 

    19 June 2002
    Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera, are washed up on a plank at Borth-y-Gêst, near Portmadoc, north Wales (Tremadoc Bay, north bit of Cardigan Bay), and these attracted the curiosity of the public.

    Report by William Galvin (RSPCA)
    BMLSS Barnacles

    15 June 2002
    An extremely unusual record of a live stranding of a female Atlantic White-sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus acutus, on the sandy beach outside of Newhaven harbour, East Sussex occurred in the early evening. The tail muscle was in such poor condition that the experts on site decided on euthanasia. They were also able to confirm the identity of this deep water northern species that is a rare discovery in the English Channel. There was no hourglass pattern like a Common Dolphin with the yellow zone behind the dorsal fin and the distinctive patterns could be seen clearly. The last English record on the BMLSS records occurred of a specimen washed up dead on the north Devon coast in 2000. This species is seen occasionally around the Shetland Isles but other reports are exiguous.

    Report by Greg Brinkley via UK Cetnet
    On 18-19 June 2002, five Atlantic White-sided Dolphins were seen close inshore in Uyea Sound , Unst in the Shetland Isles. Unst is the most northerly island in Britain. Uyea is a small island to the south of Unst separated by the Uyea and Skuda Sounds.  Reports of the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin 1998 - 2000
    Bionomics of the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin in the NE Atlantic (Link)
    Shetland Isles (map)
    Bionomics Link (for CD-ROM only)

    American Lobster (Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee photographs)

    June 2002
    An American Lobster, Homarus americanus, was discovered captured by a fishing vessel on a boat out of Selsey, West Sussex. A few specimens have been caught before in the approaches to Southampton Water.

    BMLSS  American Lobsters

    12 June 2002
    A crab fisherman found a specimen of the pelagic crab called the 'Sargassum' or 'Gulf Weed Crab,' Planes minutus on a float, which was covered in barnacles. The float was found in the Big Russel between Herm and Sark to the east of Guernsey, Channel Islands. This crab is rarely recorded from the English Channel.

    Report from 2001 (Link) on the Belgian coast
    BMLSS Crustacea

    10 June 2002
    The bodies of more than 310 Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, have been washed up on the Danish and Swedish coasts, raising fears of an epidemic of the highly contagious and usually fatal Phocine Distemper Virus. The origin of the the outbreak on the Kattegat and Skagerrak coast of Denmark and south Sweden prior to the breeding season is the same place as the 1988 epidemic which quickly spread to the east coast of England and killed about 2000 seals in the Wash (60% of the population). 

    The virus causes pregnant seals to abort their pups, pneumonia and nervous system abnormalities including convulsions.

    BBC Norfolk Report
    BBC National News Report
    BMLSS Seals

    8 June 2002

    World Oceans Day was first declared as 8th June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Events will occur all around the world on and around this day.

    World Oceans Day offers the opportunity for people in many parts of Britain and around the world to increase their understanding of the marine environment and wildlife of the oceans.

    World Oceans Day Events page

    7 June 2002
    A rarely discovered Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens, was washed up dead on Praa Sands, Mount's Bay, Cornwall. Nick Tregenza and David Ball identified it as Sowerby's Beaked Whale, an adult female, about 4 metres in length.
    The freshly dead mammal was hauled with some difficulty above the high tide to enable the Natural History Museum to take samples which will become part of the scientific collection. This only the fourth record of this whale from Cornwall. One of the previous records was of a live specimen that was rescued. 

    Message on the Cornish Wildlife Mailing List
    This whale is rarely discovered and rarely seen alive long enough for a positive identification because it usually inhabits deep waters, usually seen breaching the surface of the sea over the 1000 metre isobath. Rarely is it possible to differentiate which species of beaked whale from these brief unexpected encounters, but Sowerby's is the commonest of the four species of ziphids (=Ziphiidae) that live regularly in the seas around the British Isles. 
    Marine Mammals of the English Channel Smart Group

    3 June 2002
    The Dutch water-police spotted a Sperm Whale, Physeter catodon (pic) (pic2) of about 15 metres in the Westerschelde (a large estuary that finally ends up in Antwerp). The animal was swimming the wrong way and surfaced in the "Buitenhaven" and later the "Sloehaven" of Vlissingen.
    Thanks to a combined rescue operation of the EHBZ-team Zeeland and the EHBZ-team Belgium the animal was guided trough the fairway to deeper waters. About midnight the Sperm Whale was spotted close to Zeebrugge (Belgium).
    Source and Map (Zeehondencreche [Netherlands Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre] Pieterburen)

    Report by Dr. Reindert Nijland (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)
    Every year about June, several young male Sperm Whales end up on the Belgian and Dutch shores. These individuals seem to separate from the females and calves to look for
    deeper water. If they change direction and arrive in the shallow waters north of Belgium and the Netherlands, scientists believe that the navigation system of these animals is disturbed, as they are used to navigating in deeper oceanic waters. There is also little food for Sperm Whales in this part of the North Sea, so they end up stressed and malnourished. Stranded animals on the Belgian and Dutch shores can seldom be refloated. Dutch Reports from 1937 & 1997 (pics 1997)
    Cetacean Rehabilitation in Netherlands and Denmark
    BMLSS Cetacea

    3 June 2002
    Between Chanonry Point and Fort George, near Inverness, Scotland, two Bottle-nosed Dolphins,Tursiops truncatus, attacked and killed a young Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena. The sustained attack lasted from around 14.30 until 15.00 hours. The tide was just beginning to rise when the two dolphins, over on the Ardersier side of the Chanonry narrows began to chase and catapult a juvenile porpoise out of the water. The body of the 
    porpoise floated past Chanonry towards Inverness, where the dolphins eventually lost interest in it and began to forage for food in the tidal current.

    BMLSS Cetacea

    1 June 2002
    Adur WORLD OCEANS DAY Exhibition at Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea.

    Len Nevell (Photograph by Duncan Morrison, Adur DC)

    Adur was one of the leaders in the United Kingdom when it presented an Exhibition celebrating the official World Oceans Day. The event took place on Saturday 1 June 2002in Shoreham-by-Sea, on Coronation Green (TQ 216050), adjacent to the footbridge over the River Adur, with the start of the Adur Festival.


    Adur World Oceans day 2002 Marquees on Coronation Green (Photograph by Duncan Morrison)

    Adur World Oceans Day Picture Portfolio 2002 (by Ray Hamblett)
    Adur World Oceans Day 2002   Programme of Events

    Adur World Oceans Day 2001 Report
    Adur World Oceans Day Picture Portfolio
    World Oceans Day Smart Group

    27 May 2002
    "Millions" of Velella velella, the By-the Wind Sailor were discovered by Nick Darke on Porthcothan Beach, Cornwall. They are freshly dead, the float having the animals or at least fragments of the soft tissue, still present. They are probably all along the north coast, especially at Perranporth, so I will be interested to have an idea of the maximum density per sq. metre. The last really big incursion was in June/July 1981 when Rennie Bere counted 150 to 200 per sq. metre, as they came in on the tide (i.e. not heaped up in catchment areas) and he estimated 100,000 for the stretch of shore at Bude.

    Many By-the Wind Sailor were also discovered washed up further east on the shore at Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset. 
    Report by Peter Tinsley (Dorset Wildlife Trust)
     c. 9 June 2002
    Thousands of Velella are washed up on the north Devon strandline from Westward Ho!, Croyde and Woolacombe. 
    Report by Gavin Black (Devon Biodiversity Records Centre)
    via the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
    Velella (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)On 30 May 2002 thousands of Velella velella were also washed up along the tide line on the beach at Nicholston Burrows on the Gower peninsular, South Wales.
    Report by Helen James
    By 5 June 2002 there were millions of Velella velella  washed ashore on Rhosilli beach, a west facing beach at the end of the Gower peninsula in south Wales.
    Report by John Davies (Swansea University)
    Thousands of dead, dried Velella on the beach at Caswell Bay, South Gower, with quite a few live ones bobbing around in the surf too on 10 June 2002.
    Report by Adam Cooper
    By 8 June 2002 the swathes (thousands) of Velella looked like a 300 metres band of oil washed up on the shore at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales, from below the car park to Little Furzenip. There was a distinct smell of rotting sea life.  On 4 June 2002 many washed up Velella were discovered hidden amongst the pebbles on Aberystwyth south beach, west Wales on the Cardigan Bay coast.
    Report by Suzanne Breeze
    By 15 June 2002 millions of Velella had been washed up on the sandy beach of Porth Ty'n Twyn, on the south-west coast of Anglesey (Ynys Môn) between the small towns of Aberffraw and Rhosneigr. The Velella formed five separate strandlines and the stink of the decaying animals was horrendous. 
    Report by Barry Wright
    On 2 June 2002 I have had two reports of hundreds of Velella velella being washed up on the South of the Isle of Man, one report from Scarlett Point and another at Chapel Bay, Port St. Mary. 
    Report by Mike Bates (Port Erin Marine Lab)
    Also by 10 June 2002, Graham Mercer and the Harbourmaster at Portpatrick, reported thousands of Velella from the inner and harbour at Portpatrick, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. This is the most northerly record so far of the current strandings and they were  not known to the local fishermen.
    On 15-16 June 2002, smaller numbers of Velella were washed up here on the Isle of Cumbrae. This appears to be the first record in the Firth of Clyde (which has been fairly well studied since the 1880s at least!). 13 June 2002 found thousands of Velella were washing in on Kilmory Bay, Sound of Jura, Argyll, Scotland. There was a lot of foam along the tideline at the time and they were quite fresh. This is a south-west facing bay inshore of Islay and Jura in the western islands and the furthest north record for 2002. 
    Report by Robin Harvey
    Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory
    9 June 2002
    Large numbers of dead Velella along strandline of sandy beach at Kilmore Quay (SE Ireland).  Estimated to be in excess of 300 Velella per metre of strandline for about 50 metres (= 15000).  They were a bit dried out so must have been there for a few days.
    Report by Jon Moore (Porcupine MNH Society)
    23 June 2002
    The first dead Velella is washed up on a Sussex beach at Bognor rocks. This is the most easterly record so far up the English Channel.
    Report by John Knight (West Sussex Countryside Rangers)
    BMLSS Velella velella
    Bionomics of Velella (notes)

    May 2002
    A Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris, was caught three quarters of a mile at Chapel Point off Mevagissey, Cornwall, and presented to Mevagissey Harbour Marine Aquarium
    A Boar Fish, Capros aper, was also caught close inshore in a Pilchard net and it is one of two of these attractive fish on display in the aquarium.

    Male Cuckoo Wrasse (Photograph  by Jim Anderson)

    c. 12 May 2002
    A male Cuckoo Wrasse, Labrus bimaculatus, caught by a boat angler off Littlehampton is an unusual record from off the Sussex coast. There is a rocky dive site known as the Waldrons where these wrasse occur regularly. 

    Report by Bob Squires (Southwick)
    BMLSS Wrasse page

    9 May 2002
    A pod of six Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, are seen from the Fetlar ferry in the Bluemull ‘triangle’. (Fetlar is an island in the north-east of the Shetland Isles.) They were probably the same pod that was seen in March.

    Click to enlarge for the Turtle report numbers9 May 2002
    With the swarms of jellyfish it is does not come as a surprise that a predatory Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen by Ian and Joy Olford 50 metres from the shore off Polruan, Cornwall (SX 125 511). The jellyfish Rhizostoma octopus was seen nearby and jellyfish are the principal diet of these turtles.
    Reports from Stella Turk on the Cornish Mailing List
    BMLSS Turtles
    The Marine Conservation Society have produced a laminated Turtle Advice Sheet (endorsed by DEFRA). The guide contains reports numbers and advice.
    Turtle Report Numbers
    MCS Turtles

    Rhizostoma Jellyfish washed at Beer, Devon on 7 May 2002 (Photograph by Ceri Jones)7-9 May 2002
    Whilst on Colin Speedie's Basking Shark survey last week we were almost continually among the jellyfish Rhizostoma octopus (from Lands End to Fowey, Cornwall), some areas had particularly dense aggregations of them.

    Report by Gavin Black (Devon Biodiversity Records Centre)
    Huge numbers of Rhizostoma octopus were seen between Falmouth and the Lizard, Cornwall.
    Report by Peter Tinsley
    4-7 May 2002
    There have been reports of  jellyfishes from the Cornish and Devon coasts, including Rhizostoma octopus at 50 cm diameter with a purple rim to the bell stranded near the swimming pool at Devil's Point (Western Kings) on the Plymouth foreshore on 7 May. Richard White (of Devon Wildlife Trust) saw lots of Rhizostoma at Church Cove on the Lizard, Cornwall, on 5 May.
    A report arrived via Brixham Coastguard from a member of the public; that a large jellyfish (one metre across) had been found in the Imperial Recreation Ground in Exmouth, Devon, on 6 May 2002. Large numbers of Rhizostoma octopus are reported from the Manacles rocks, off south Cornwall, by by Roger Dadds, (Plymouth Sound SAC) on 4-5 May. Large numbers of jellyfish up to one metre in diameter are also reported from off Chesil beach and around Portland Bill, and also the Erme estuary and Bigbury Bay (south Devon). It seems this is a year of exceptional abundance for Rhizostoma octopus.
    (Several reports.) 
    By 1 June 2002 the Rhizostoma octopus had reached as far east as Sussex with one specimen of nearly a metre in diameter washed up at Shoreham Beach.
    Report by Martin Ward at Adur World Oceans Day
    Adur Nature Notes (Spring 2002) for Shoreham Beach Nature Reports
    23 June 2002
    At least 15  Rhizostoma octopus  jellyfish, ranging in size between about 10 cm to 60 cm in size were washed up on Studland beach in Dorset.

    More Reports
    BMLSS Jellyfish

    2 May 2002
    A baby Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, is washed up alive on Pagham beach, Sussex, but dies shortly afterwards.

    Another Harbour Porpoise was washed up with the umbilical cord attached on Rozel beach, Normandy. It was a female and measured 92 cm long. Photo link

    12 April 2002
    A Sleepy Crab, Dromia personata, was brought in by a Mevagissey (south Cornwall) inshore fisherman caught in shallow water. This was the first time this crab had been seen by the fisherman of 16 years experience. It is a rather distinctive crab the shape and size of a tennis ball and the light brown crab is covered in hairs which gives it a velvety appearance. As befits its common name it is not very active in the Mevagissey Harbour Aquarium. One of its distinguishing characters that enabled me (Andy Horton) to make the identification from a verbal description are the claws on each of the legs. This crab is rare throughout its range in British seas, found in the English Channel and as far north as Cardigan Bay on the west coast.
    Boar Fish (Photograph by  Chris Gilbertson, Mevagissey Aquarium)Mevagissey Aquarium is a Grade I Listed building and its tanks are renewed with fresh seawater twice daily which makes it an ideal environment for keeping crabs and other large crustaceans which appreciate regular water changes of this frequency. Mevagissey Aquarium houses the Comber, Serranus cabrilla, caught in June 1996, and an attractive Boar Fish, Capros aper

    Report by Chris Gilbertson (Mevagissey Harbour Aquarium)
    More Information on the Sponge Crab
    Marlin Information Page
    BMLSS Intertidal Crabs

    7 April 2002
    Roger Whear reports at least 150 Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, three miles off Coverack, Cornwall. They covered an acre of sea, and many were leaping around his boat. He also saw one Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, maybe the first of this year.
    The toll of dead cetaceans on Cornish shores this year is 114 so far.

    1 April 2002
    An unusual discovery over Easter was three Snapping Prawns, Alpheus macrocheles, under boulders in Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset.  These are listed as very scarce in Hayward and Ryland, though I suspect "rarely seen" would be a better description.  They were about 30 mm long, a lovely yellowy-orange colour and two were berried.

    Discovery and report by Peter Tinsley
    Previous Report
    Crustacean News Reports

    30 March 2002
    The small patch of loose tunicate-covered flint rocks with small bits of chalk at Lancing beach, Sussex, proved unusually rich in small rockpool life at the very low tide (TQ 018 034). The discoveries included a Pimplet Anemone, Anthopleura ballii, another anemone species that has never been recorded this far east before.

    23 - 24 March 2002
    A pod of between 30 and 40 Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, became stranded, or nearly stranded, at near Camp in North in Tralee Bay, County Kerry, Ireland, and were prevented from beaching and helped back out to sea. 18 of these whales (actually dolphins with a bottle-shaped head) perished, but many were coaxed back into the sea on the first day. On the following day, 10 to 12 whales were spotted the shallow water of Fenit Harbour, but they did not become beached and the Fenit lifeboatmen were able to escort them back into deeper water. 

    Information from Paul Peachey (Independent Newspaper)
    One of the female whales gave birth as the lifeboatmen preventing it from beaching.
    Additional information from Derek Day
    In the authentic report, the calf was bodily lifted by a farmer and put back into the sea. 
    Information completed by Dave Wall (Irish Whale & Dolphin Group) via UK Cetnet
    Full Reports
    BMLSS Cetaceans

    22 March 2002
    A pod of six Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, are seen from the Fetlar ferry in the Shetland Isles. (Fetlar is an island in the north-east of the Shetlands.)

    21 March 2002
    About twenty dead  Lesser Octopuses, Eledone cirrhosa, were scattered over a stretch of about 200 metres of Killiney beach, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

    Report by Leo Dungan sent in by Jim Wilson
    BMLSS Octopus page

    20 March 2002
    Vernal Equinox at 19:03 GMT (UT).


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