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World Oceans Day 2002

Photograph by Nicolas Jouault
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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    23 September 2002
    Silver Dory (=Sailfin Dory), Zenopsis conchifer, is trawled six miles off Wolf Rock, Cornwall. This is such an unusual occurrence that the fish is not in the popular British list of marine species. This fish was 38 cm long and weighed 550 grams, gutted. 

    Picture supplied by Doug Herdson

    It could be mistaken for similar John Dory, Zeus faber. The Silver Dory is the complete fish shown in the photograph of the fish caught and preserved and the upper fish is a John Dory. The John Dory inhabits shallow water but the new fish is a denizen of the deep. It is widespread in tropical seas where it sometimes enters shallow waters. There has been a handful of previous records off Cornwall, the first official one recorded on 29 August 1995.
    Previous Records

    Report from Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth)
    from help from Paul Gainey and notes by Stella Turk
    Previous Records from the Geoff Potts and Swaby British Fish Records
    Fishbase Entry

    18 September 2002
    Flying Gurnard, Dactylopterus volitans, was caught in a scallop dredge by the F.V. Natalie B, skipper Steven Frank Hatton, out of Newlyn, Cornwall, in 70 metres of water 9.7 miles east of Wolf Rock off the south-west coast of Cornwall. It is only the second specimen of this tropical fish caught in the seas around Britain. The previous fish was also caught off Cornwall. 
    It was  described by Robin Turner (Newlyn) as about 30 cm (1 foot) long with large scales and a colour olive green flecked with brown, small ventral mouth, two large spikes pointing down its back and two bony protrusions from its jowls. The pectoral (side) fins were very large. 
    It is not actually a gurnard although it looks very similar: it belongs to the Order Dactylopteriformes, family Dactylopteridae (gurnards are Scorpaeniformes, family Triglidae).

    A bright orange starfish, Echinaster sepositus, was caught in a bottom gill net  near the south-west corner of Guernsey in over 30 metres of water. The fisherman, Ken Robilliard, who caught it and has fished for 25 years says he had never seen this species before.

    Previous Report
    BMLSS Starfish

    c. 11 September 2002
    Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, was found near Leenane (the entrance is Killary harbour), in south County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland. This is the first record of this Arctic seal for Ireland. 

    The female seal was found at the head of the fjord (Killary harbour) on a grass verge,
    beside the bridge in Leenuan, (53° 60'N, 9° 50'W) calmly watching the children go to school. She is 1.5 meters in length, close to 60 kg (best estimate).

    11 September 2002
    Between the 4 September and 10 September, 209 dead Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, were reported around the UK bringing the total to 1005 since the beginning of the Phocine Distemper Virus outbreak. 890 of these were from around the coast of England, predominantly from the Norfolk coast with smaller numbers reported from Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Northumbria and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

    Sea Mammal Research Unit
    Phocine Distemper Virus among European Seals 2002
    BMLSS Seal News

    10 September 2002

    Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, put on the show for visitors, in Fistral Bay, Newquay, Cornwall, with between 8 and 10 dolphins shooting along on the waves with the surfers and leaping out of the water, all this was set in front of a beautiful sunset.

    About six miles out of Whitby, Yorkshire, we had two sightings of Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, which I believe were two separate individuals. However on the way back, again NNE from port and six miles out between about 17.00 and 17.30, we saw at least five Minke Whales with four in view at one time. We also saw at least twenty small pods of Harbour Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, with two to five individuals a pod.

    BMLSS Cetaceans

    6-8 September 2002
    6th Annual EEA (European Elasmobranch Association) meeting
    Shark Trust

    Full Diary Events (Link)


    28 August 2002
    Helen Selvey of Polzeath Voluntary Marine Wildlife Area, has found those miniature 'green-eyed monsters' for which Paul Gainey has been seeking as he would like to photograph them. When she placed a large freshly dead Root-mouth JellyfishRhizostoma octopus in a vessel of seawater, from under it swam a few dozen specimens of a small 12 mm amphipod crustacean called Hyperia galba. They are always associated with one or other of the species of jellyfish, living under the shelter of the umbrella (often within the gonad cavities)  where they are sought by some species of fish. There are only three records on the species database for Cornwall, the latest being 1928 with a 'Plymouth area' record for 1953.  Of course not many people would look for them, but the influx of jellyfish represents a good opportunity - so please 'phone me on 01209 712069 if you find any and can keep them alive in a container in a cool place.

    From the Palace Pier, Brighton, we saw two jellyfish moving very slowly. They were very large we estimated them to be about 130 cm (4-5 feet)? in a diameter, a large white dome, medusa with a dark rim, with strange white panel type of things below and then short pale blue tentacles. This is the species Rhizostoma octopus This species has been very common this year. 
    NB. this size may be overestimated.

    Report by Kelly Tebb
    On 26 August 2002 a species of this jellyfish was seen over deeper water at the Waldrons, off Littlehampton, Sussex.
    Report by Paul Parsons
    BMLSS Jellyfish

    28 August 2002
    La Société Guernesiaise Cetacean Section Report
    As many as 20 Long-finned Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, are reported by Channel Television's Nicky Bougourd and team off Fermain, on Guernsey's south-east coast (Channel Islands, English Channel). The animals which included juveniles were observed between 9:30 am and 10:30 am following a tip-off from Deputy Harbour Master Tony Pattimore who had spotted them on the Search and Rescue CCTV. The result was some stunning film of these magnificent creatures, which are believed to be possibly on migration as they are normally seen in July, August or September.  However sightings are confined to 2-3 per annum and this one was exceptional due to the number of animals observed.  Nicky Bougourd saw 12 animals, around 6 metres in length.  Some of them were smaller juveniles. The pilot whales rested motionless at times, and then dived down for periods. They were not feeding according to the crew. Their usual diet is cephalopods, including squids.
    There was a smaller group also observed at 10:30 am for 20 minutes off St.Martin's Point of about 6 animals together with some smaller dolphins by Ron Wilton, Ellen Wood and family aboard the "Selika". These could have well been part of the same group.  The Herm Travel Trident also observed the Pilot Whales in the Little Russel, between St. Peter Port, Guernsey and the island of Herm.
    Reporters: Nicky Bougourd CTV, Ellen Wood, Tony Rive and Tony Pattimore.
    Original report and excellent footage shown on "Channel Television" BBC Southwest. La Société Guernesiaise Sightings Web Pages
    BMLSS Cetacea

    Sea HorseLate August 2002
    Three specimens of the Short-snouted Seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus, were discovered about 95 miles east of the Solent in the English Channel. They were picked up during DEFRA sponsored fish habitat studies by the University of Wales Bangor research vessel Prince Madog. Each came up in separate gear deployments, though at a single sampling station. On UWTV the benthic biotope where they came from was seen to be sand with a dense bed of tube worms, Lanice conchilega. All three seahorses were "pregnant" males.

    Report by Ivor Rees


    22 August 2002
    Up to five Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, are seen between Mallaig and the Isle of Eigg (west Scotland) and one adult whale was breaching one mile off the Isle of  Rum. This Minke was reported twisting during at least one of the twenty breaches, leaving the water completely at times. A breaching Minke Whale was seen in subsequent days north west of  the Garvellachs near Oban.

    Report by John Poyner via UK Cetnet
    BMLSS Cetaceans

    21 August 2002
    Hundreds of dead decomposing Salmon, Salmo salar, force the closure of Loch Erisort on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The salmon in the nets were first killed by thousands of jellyfish and then the dead weight of fish broke the net and the recovery of hundreds of the dead fish was missed.

    21 August 2002
    A pod of 20 Risso's Dolphins, Grampus griseus, passed through Bluemull Sound, betwen Unst and Yell in the Shetland Isles.

    20 August 2002
    Fishermen 'thousands' of jellyfish in Port Isaac Bay, Cornwall, in the third week of August: some were dark blue and others were brown. Malcolm Lee reported 42 Compass Jellyfish, Chrysaora hysoscella, and 54 Blue Jellyfish, Cyanea lamarcki, trapped in the narrow Port Gaverne Cove, Cornwall. (SX 00 80). 

    14 August 2002
    Henry Altenberg saw a large Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, over 2 metres in length, six miles off Coverack, Cornwall. It was attacking a large jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus, which it pushed to the surface and  threw in the air with a quick flick whilst grabbing a mouthful of 'jelly flesh'.

    Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk on the Cornish Mailing List
    BMLSS Turtles

    13 August 2002
    Tests on dead Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, found on carcasses from the coast of Lincolnshire and Norfolk have confirmed they died from the Phocine Distemper Virus. The British outbreak was confirmed by the RSPCA after five dead seals, including three pups, were found around the Wash.

    BMLSS Seals

    13 August 2002
    One large Octopus vulgaris was caught south of Plymouth and landed on the Plymouth Fish Market.

    12 August 2002
    An 11.5 metre long Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, was seen close to the shoreline in shallow water near Banff in the Moray Firth, Scotland by the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit. The whale is believed to be a female and possibly one of the west Greenland animals. Three weeks earlier (24 July 2003) a Humpback Whale was seen at the same location. This is the first evidence of this species in the Moray Firth in recent years.

    7 August 2002
    An invasion of tiny (12-15 mm) jellyfish has killed about 900 thousand Salmon at two fish farms in Loch Erisort on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The offending deadly organism travelling like large 15 metre deep clouds through the sea have been identified as the narcomedusan Solmaris corona, and also identified three other hydromedusans that were abundant in the blooms as Phialidium, Leuckartiara octona and Catablema vesicarium
    These oceanic species will not be listed in the popular guides. The Narcomedusae are gelatinous hydrozoans, abundant at depths between 100 and 1000 metres, an area known as the midwater. These rarely seen jellyfish are most easily recognized by the unique location of their primary tentacles. Unlike other jellyfish, the tentacles of the Narcomedusae originate well above the bell margin. These tentacles are often held in front of the jellyfish as it swims through the midwater. They feed on zooplankton. 
    They have been recorded in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean but they are rarely mentioned.
    Original Report by Claudia Mills via the Cnidaria Discussion List
    and Paul Tyler

    6 August 2002
    Ian McConnell reported seven White-beaked Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus albirostris,  about 1.5 km east of Norwick (Unst) in the Shetland Isles.

    30 July 2002
    Over the past  five weeks during shore surveys on the west coast of Scotland, two specimens of the Blue Jellyfish, Cyanea lamarcki were seen: in the Sound of Jura and near Loch Ewe in Wester Ross. Both were under 10 cm in diameter and a vivid blue. Today, a report reached me of a diver who was stung on the wrist off the island of Canna, probably by this species, and spent two and a half painful days in hospital. This species is much more unpleasant than the common reddish-brown Lion's Mane Jellyfish, Cyanea capillata and seems to be much less common.

    Report by Robert Harvey
    BMLSS Jellyfish
    Jellyfish Stings

    29-30 July 2002
    The Daisy Anemone, Cereus pedunculatus, has been discovered by Paul Parsons off the outfall pipe near Brooklands boating lake east Worthing, West Sussex.. I (Andy Horton) have discovered this sea anemone (that contains symbiotic algae) on Worthing beach on one memorable occasion, but at the moment this seems the most easterly discovery of this sea anemone on the northern English Channel coast and shallow seas. 
    BMLSS Sea Anemones
    Adur Nature Notes

    27 - 28 July 2002
    National Whale and Dolphin Watch Weekend
    Click here for full details of the National Whale and Dolphin Watching Weekend and how you can get involved.

    The Sea Watch Foundation are inviting you to take part in the UK's first ever National Whale and Dolphin Watch Weekend, aimed at providing a snapshot picture of the numbers and variety of whales, dolphins and porpoises to be seen around the British Isles.

    Bottle-nosed Dolphin George  (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)

                     Bottle-nosed Dolphin "George"
                      Photograph by Steve Trewhella

    A little over 200 sites were manned around the British Isles including Northern Ireland, from Hermaness in Shetland down to Jersey in the Channel Islands and Isles of Scilly in Cornwall. Around one thousand people participated, with groups of as many as 20-30 
    attending some sites. Systematic watches were carried out from the land-based sites whilst others went to see on a variety of vessels from yachts to oil rig supply vessels and ferries. The prime aim was simply to raise public awareness of whales and dolphins around the British Isles, although we also hoped it would provide a useful 'snapshot' of the coastal distribution of different species in late July.

    Report by Peter Evans
    Report on "Marine Mammals of the English Channel Smart Group
    UK Dolphin Watch Image Portfolio, July 2002

    Late July 2002
    A large number of jellyfish are washed up on the beach at Gwithian Towans near Hayle, Cornwall. There were three different types but have been unable to identify them. One was clear with tentacles and ranged in size from small to very large (bigger than a football), another was ball sized with tentacles and brownish colour to the main body and the other type was fist sized, no long tentacles and blue in colour.

    Report by Judy Soothill
    My first best guesses are the following:
    Barrel Jellyfish  Rhizostoma octopus (=R. pulmo
    Lionís Mane Jellyfish  Cyanea capillata
    By-the Wind Sailor   Velella velella

    BMLSS Jellyfish

    July 2002
    Tadpole Fish, Raniceps raninus, are being caught by anglers off Mevagissey Quay, Cornwall. Some of them are on display at Mevagissey Harbour Marine Aquarium where they tend to hide away rather a lot and it is only the expert visitor that can see them. 

    BMLSS Tadpole Fish

    19 July 2002
    42 Rhizostoma octopus, Root-mouth Jellyfish, carefully counted, were on the shore at Polkerris near Par, Cornwall, with 50 in the shallows.  About the same time 30 were on Par Beach.
    These were the top numbers beached, but elsewhere they were in up to ten on many Cornish shores.  Offshore they were in large shoals  but  less easy to count. But more that one person said they are present this year 'in hundreds if not thousands'.

    Report from Stella Turk
    More Reports

    16 July 2002
    A pod of twenty Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, and three Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, were spotted by Paul Semmens off Kenidjack, Cornwall  (SW 3632).

    9 July 2002
    The miniature sea anemones discovered in Widewater Lagoon, Lancing, were identified as dwarf specimens of the distinctive Haliplanella lineata with orange stripes which are not found on other British sea anemones. The anemone photographed was only 2 mm in height and 3 mm in diameter and this was typical of the dozen anemones discovered in two locations each side of the bridge.

    Report by Dan Metcalfe (University of Brighton)
    This alien anemone (accidentally introduced species) is a sea anemone that inhabits harbours and estuaries and occasionally lagoons where the salinity is below full strength seawater. Haliplanella lineata attains at least 20 mm high and 13 mm diameter in British specimens but in other parts of the world could be twice this size. Reproduction by longitudinal fission is habitual and frequent in this species.

    7 July 2002
    badly decomposed Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was washed up on Gwynver Beach, Whitsand Bay, Cornwall (SW 362275). It was about 5 metres long.

    BMLSS Cetacea

    4 July 2002
    Three Leatherback Turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, were found on three separate Cornish beaches alive at Millook Haven, 6 km south of Bude on the north coast, and Perran Sands (SW 7655), with a dead specimen washed up at on the strandline of Watergate Bay, Cornwall.

    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.

    Public Exhibition of the Lancing rocky Sea Defence Plan on the seaward side of Widewater Lagoon, Lancing, West Sussex. The most controversial proposal seems to the the inclusion of a seawater pipeline. 

    Red Glasswort on the lagoon flood plain in autumn. This colour scheme may be destroyed by a seawater pipeline. (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

    Information Page

    A miniature sea anemone has been discovered in Widewater, and identified as a dwarf specimen of the distinctive Haliplanella lineata with orange stripes which are not found on other British sea anemones. The anemone photographed was only 2 mm in height and 3 mm in diameter and this was typical of the few anemones discovered. 

    Report by Dan Metcalfe (University of Brighton)
    Search for the Lagoon Cockles (& Sea Anemone)

    3 July 2002
    A very badly decomposed and smelly Sperm Whale, Physeter catodon, is washed up at the beach at historic Hopetoun House near South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth, east Scotland. The 10 metre long whale is estimated to weigh about 8 tonnes, and this posed a massive environmental disposal problem. The beach was closed because of the horrid smell. 

    Report in the Daily Record
    1997 Forth Sperm Whale stranding

    2 July 2002
    A pod of nine Killer Whales, Orcinus orca,  were seen off Noss (east of Lerwick) in the Shetland Islands early in the morning, heading south. They were later seen off Fladabister (5 miles south of Noss on Mainland) at about 5:30 pm. 
    On 12 July 2002, a pod of eight were seen offf Sandwick, (a further five miles south of Fladabister) and again off Sumburgh at the extreme south of Shetlands. This may be the same pod?

    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. 
    Ananova News Report

    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).

    > 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

    27 May 2002
    "Millions" of Velella velella, the By-the Wind Sailor were discovered by Nick Darkeon 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.

    More Reports
    Velella (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)

    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 seperate strandlines and the stink of the decaying animals was horrendous. 

    Report by Barry Wright

    Also by 10 June 2002, Graham Mercer and the Harbourmaster at Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, 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.

    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

    BMLSS Velella velella
    Bionomics of Velella (notes)

    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 2002 in Shoreham-by-Sea, on Coronation Green (TQ 216050), adjacent to the footbridge over the River Adur, with the start of the Adur Festival.



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