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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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    30 March 2002
    The small patch of loose sponge-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.

    28 March 2002
    A Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, has been seen in Weymouth Harbour, and it is believed to have followed a trawler through the narrow inlet. 
    Weymouth News Report
    Durlston Wildlife Update

    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).

    c. 18 March 2002
    A badly composed whale is washed up on Saligo Bay (NR 209672) on the west coast of Islay, Argyll, the outermost island of the Inner Hebrides. The whale has been identified (needs to be confirmed) as Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, which is a deep water whale rarely seen alive and rarely washed up on the most westernmost shores of Britain and Ireland. 

    BMLSS Cetaceans
    News: Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Co. Sligo, Ireland 2000)

    18 March 2002
    After a few days of gales a large standing of Common Cuttlebones, Sepia elegans, is a reasonably common on Cornish shores. However, the stranding of over 100 cuttlebones on Polperro beach, south Cornwall included seven specimens of the rarer species Sepia orbignyana.

    Report by Jon Makeham
    BMLSS Cuttlefish
    Cuttlefish Pages (Matt Stribley)

    17 March 2002
    Thousands of Common Starfish, Asteria rubens, are washed up on the beach at Holkham, Norfolk, on the east coast of England after sustained north-easterly gales. 

    BMLSS Echinoderms

    c. 14 March 2002
    After a sustained period of north-easterly gales, there was a massive stranding of marine animals and weed on the Yorkshire shore (north-east England) between Fraisethorpe and Barmston (East Yorks: Holderness). The most noticeable of the animals washed up were hundreds of thousands of starfish mostly of the Common Starfish, Asteria rubens, but other species were present. The list of interesting animals washed up included decapod crustaceans including Lobsters that were still alive, crabs etc., a wide variety of fish, sea anemones, polychaete worms, molluscs including octopuses, porpoises, seals and tonnes of seaweed. This is the largest stranding recording on these web pages. 

    Report by N V Proctor (University of Hull)
    Full List of Species
    Strandline & Beachcombing Page

    Goose Barnacles (Photograph by Jim Hall)

    12- 26 February 2002
    After a few days of gales, Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera, have been washed ashore on the shores of Cornwall and south Wales and probably elsewhere.
    BMLSS Barnacle Page

    22-23 February 2002
    Boar Fish (Photograph by Chris Gilbertson, Mevagissey Marine Aquarium)A Boar Fish, Capros aper, was brought up in a net set for Red Mullet, Mullus surmulatus, at 12 metres off the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The Boar Fish is rarely caught because it is small (59 grams and a total length of 153 mm) and escapes the nets and because it usually lives at greater depths than most nets are set. The same fisherman caught a Tadpole Fish, Raniceps raninus, the day before. This latter fish is widely distributed but solitary for most of its life so again it is rarely caught. 

    Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
    In April 1991, a small Boar Fish was caught by a fisherman off south Cornwall and spent several years in Mevagissey Aquarium.
    Previous Sussex Record of a Boar Fish

    18 February 2002
    A massive stranding of between 120 and 150 Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, occurred on the beach at Pleubian on the Côtes d'Armor, Bretagne (Britanny), on the English Channel (le Manche) coast of northern France. This stranding occurred at 3:00 pm just before the low spring tide.
    According to people who witnessed the event on this sandy shore, the first dolphin beached itself followed by its congeners. This prompted a rescue by the Fire Brigade, the Police and the public who were able to help 20 of the unfortunate dolphins and actually lift them up and put them back into the water. Unfortunately despite strenuous efforts 48 dolphins perished, but about 90 survived.
    The reason for the stranding is not known but the topography of the bay and the large tidal range were probably contributory.

    Stranded Dolphin Identification Notes
    Report Numbers for Stranded Cetaceans
    Mass Stranding Exercises in Scotland
    British Divers Marine Life Rescue
    Zoonosis (Marine Mammals)

    Photograph by Tony (Ecological Planning and Research, Winchester)

    9 February 2002
    After a week of gales, the Mantis Shrimp illustrated  was discovered on the tideline at Calshot Spit, Hampshire. It is probably Rissoides desmaresti.

    BMLSS Mantis Shrimp Page
    Crustacean Image Portfolio
    Crustacean News Reports
    (Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group - members only)
Photograph by Kelvin Jones

Ivory Gull investigating a dead Harbour Porpoise as a food source
on Blackrock Sounds, northern Cardigan Bay, north Wales
Photograph by Kelvin Jones

    A Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, was washed up dead on Blackrock Sands near Morfa Bychan near Portmadoc in north Wales. This itself is not a particular unusual event in view of the hundreds of dolphins washed up dead on English Channel coasts. Porpoises are common in the north of Cardigan Bay and used to get caught up in fixed nets before the fishery was halted. 

    Photograph by Chris GalvinIvory Gull feeding on the carcass on 10 February 2002
    Photograph by Chris Galvin

    However, this porpoise was graced by a visit by an Ivory Gull, Pagophila eburnea, an nearly all-white Arctic species which may have been blown further south by the recent storms. This gull is a very rare vagrant to Wales and England. 
    Pictures on the Surfbirds News Page
    Bird species recorded in Great Britain

    5 February 2002
    Cetacean Deaths
    Large numbers of dolphins are washed up dead on the French coast with reports of about 300 deaths. The French newspapers showed the dolphin carcasses piled up high on the beach. 

    Report by Andrew Syvret (Pinnacle Marine Limited)
    The total reports of stranded cetaceans for Cornwall reached 45 this year.
    (In previous years the numbers have been recorded at 26.)
    Reports from Stella Turk on the Cornish Mailing List

    1 February 2002
    Gales batter the coasts of Britain, coinciding with exceptionally high tides, resulting in localised flooding, with the strongest winds across lowland Scotland. 
    Beaufort Scale (sea)
    Beaufort Scale (land)
    Beaufort Scale (BMLSS)

    January 2002
    At least 50 small cetaceans, mostly dolphins, have been washed dead up on English Channel coasts during this month. Dolphins are washed up dead every year, but there seems to be at least double the normal numbers this year. Although, the cause of death is not known for sure, most people seem to think that fishing activities are to blame. The cause of the increase is less clear; it could be because of the bad weather has washed more ashore, it could be because more are being caught because of increased dolphin numbers, or increased fishing effort, or it could be because more people are reporting their grisly discoveries.
    The largest numbers of cetaceans are washed up on westerly coasts, notably Cornish shores, but the strandings stretched as far east as the Isle of Wight and Sussex where an intact Porpoise was cast ashore as well as a decomposed dolphin. 
    More information can be found on the following efora:
    Marine Mammals of the English Channel Smart Group
    UK Cetnet
    Cornish Wildlife Mailing List
    Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group

    Photograph by Nicolas Jouault

    New born Bottle-nosed Dolphin with adult, 19 May 2001, swimming against flood tide, and shallow water
    Photograph by Nicolas Jouault, Jersey

    BBC News Report
    Report Numbers for Stranded Cetaceans
    BMLSS Cetacean Page
    Sea Watch Foundation
    Cornish Marine Wildlife Reports 2001 (by Ray Dennis)
    European Cetacean Bycatch
    Whale & Dolphin Society Report & References

    19 January 2002
    A Cuckoo Ray, Raja naevus, was discovered in a rock pool in Cove Harbour , Berwickshire, SE Scotland by Ben Tindall, Harbourmaster. It was an adult full grown specimen at 60 cm. The shallow water species of ray is rarely recorded in pools, although the Thornback Ray, Raja clavata, has been recorded in very shallow water in February in the English Channel. The Cuckoo Ray has not been extensively studied. It is a southern species  found all around Britain and in the Mediterranean Sea and it lays its egg cases all through the year with possibly a peak in January. This ray could have found its way into the rock pool as a result of fishing activities. This ray is common off this North Sea coast and has been recorded in harbours before.

    BMLSS Sharks and Rays page

    11 January 2002
    Dogwhelks lay eggs after a 25 year absence
    Dogwhelk, NucelLapillusKingston Beach, Shoreham Harbour, Sussex. 
    A notable discovery were large Dogwhelks, Nucella lapillus, averaging 50 mm in length (all a dirty white colour) and one group were laying their egg capsules. This was unknown on this shore since the TBT pollution wiped out the breeding population in the 1970s. A chemical component called tributyltin in anti-fouling paints caused female Dogwhelks to develop a condition called imposex which prevented them from breeding.
    Full Report
    Dogwhelk page
    Trouble with Dogwhelks

    6 January 2002
    Donny Nicolson reported a decomposed Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, washed ashore on the Dale beach at Walls (west Mainland) in the Shetland Isles. 

    Full Report on the BMLSS Turtle Page
    British Marine Turtle Stranding Network

    3 January 2002
    A 2.88 metres long female Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, was washed up dead on Thurleston Beach in Devon. This is an extremely unusual stranding of a deep sea whale. Scientists from the Natural History Museum in London have taken DNA samples in an attempt to discover from which population this whale came from. The cause of death was unknown. This species is much commoner in the southern hemisphere. The presence of a population west of the Bay of Biscay is possible. This whale is classified as a Vagrant in the British Cetacean List.

    Natural History Museum   Department of Zoology 
    National Whale Stranding Recording Scheme (includes excellent photographs)
    Further Details
    BMLSS Cetacean Page

    3 January 2002
    A deep water trawler after Blue Ling and Hake etc. caught a female Giant Squid, Architeuthis dux, amongst the large haul of fish. With a mantle length of 127 cm it is a medium-sized specimen with some of the tentacles missing. Therefore, the total length could not be measured, but it is estimated to be about 5.5 metres with a weight of about 60 kg. the specimen will be prepared for display at the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, ‘Creatures of the Deep' zone from May 2002.
    This is believed to be the 25th Architeuthis recorded in British waters since 1673.

    Giant Squid: Full Report
    Aberdeen University Giant Squid site (by Dr Martin Collins)
    BMLSS Octopuses and Squids

    2 January 2002
    An empty fuel tanker "Willy" becomes stranded on rocks off Kingsand, near Plymouth, Devon. This is a small 3000 tonne cargo vessel with 100 tonnes of fuel oil. Leaking fuel poses a threat to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) off the coast at Cawsand. However, the main concern is that the ship will explode if the fuel vapours are ignited.
    BBC News Report
    Oil Tanker Disasters: Oiled Bird Count

    1 January 2002
    More Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, are washed up dead on Cornish shores. The Hocking family (Sue, Richard, Emma and Rebecca) found eight Triggerfish on Porthtowan beach, Cornwall. 
    Reports from Stella Turk (Link)
    Previous Report

    21 December 2001
    A Slipper Lobster, Scyllarus arctus, was caught in a lobster pot at a depth of about 60
    metres about 3 miles south east of St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly , just before Christmas by Barry Bennett. Realising that it was an unusual and interesting find Barry put it in a display tank, which he maintains in the Harbour Master’s Office in St Mary’s.
    Scyllarus arctus is a warm waters species found in the Mediterranean, and in the Eastern Atlantic from Morocco to the English Channel but is rare north of the Bay of Biscay.  They live on stony ground, in caves, and can also be found on muddy bottoms or in seagrass beds.  They use the large spade-like scales at the front of the head to burrow into mud,
    sand or gravel between and under stones. Only 15 have been confirmed from British seas all from off Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly or off Plymouth.
    Full Report
    Full Report (CD-ROM only)


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