MARINE LIFE NEWS  2011

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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EVENTS:

Welcome to WhaleFest 2011
5-6 November 2011
 

The first and largest event of its kind in Europe, WhaleFest – a celebration of the public’s passion for whales and dolphins – will open for the weekend of 5th and 6th November 2011 in Brighton, UK.

WhaleFest was organised by Planet Whale, the world’s largest online search engine for whale and dolphin watching trips. WhaleFest represents Planet Whale’s vision; to provide whale and dolphin conservation organisations and sustainable whale watching businesses with a free platform to promote their work to the widest possible audience. 

How to book

Go to Whale Fest web page
(click on this text)


LATEST NEWS: 

29 December 2011
A young Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, was discovered on the shore at Tresilian Bay, near Llantwit Major, on the south Wales coast. This was the first of these young turtles discovered dead after the gales. These endangered turtles breed on the coasts of Mexico and are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico and were thought to have blown across the Atlantic Ocean. The turtle is likely to have perished in the cold seas.
Second Report

BMLSS Turtles

27 December 2011
A Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, hauled out on a dock at Tayport (on the south coast of the Firth of Tay, near Dundee), east Scotland. Its arrival followed a spate of storms across Scotland. 

Bearded Seal (Photograph by Sam Gibson)

A Bearded Seal was also seen at St. Cyrus (near Aberdeen) about 30 miles further north in November 2011. In view of the rare sightings of this Arctic seal around the British Isles it is likely to be the same one.

Report and Photograph by Sam Gibson
Previous Report 
 

20 December 2011
A Hooded Seal, Cystophora cristata, was discovered on the beach at Chapel St. Leonards, Lincolnshire, was taken to the Skegness Natureland Seal Sanctuary. The explanation for this unexpected arrival may be because hat the seal had first been rescued by a Seal Sanctuary at Friedrichskoog in Germany in August. 2011and was fitted with a radio transmitter on its release. The eight month old pup was thin and exhausted after swimming all the way to Scotland and up to the Orkney Islands. If she had kept going she would have been on course to get home to Iceland. Unfortunately she turned round and headed south along the east coast of England and came to rest in Lincolnshire. 
The Hooded Seal is an Arctic species and even discoveries off the coast of Scotland, including the Orkney and Shetland Isles are rare. It congragates to breed around Greenland and the Denmark Strait (between Iceland and Greenland) from June to August. For the rest of the year ti tends to be a solitary animal.

Skegness Natureland Sea Sanctuary News
Previous Report 2004
BMLSS Seals

15 December 2011
An interesting large piece of wood was washed up on the strandline at after storms on low tide at Sennen Cove, Cornwall: it was completely covered in small to medium sized Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera

On closer examination it was found to have a cavity at one end and tucked into this was a male and a female Columbus Crab, Planes minutus. Small 3-4 mm egg masses and shipworm holes were also seen which included the rarely recorded Bankia gouldi; as well as Teredora malleolus, which made up about 95% of the shipworms in the timber. Under a magnifying glass and discovered a rare 14 mm  pelagicsea slug, Fiona pinnata, which has only been recorded a few times in British seas. 

Report and Photographs ©  by David Fenwick Snr. (Aphotomarine)
Full Report
BMLSS Barnacles
BMLSS Molluscs
BMLSS Nudibranchs
BMLSS Strandline Reports
 
13 December 2011
A Green TurtleChelonia mydas, was discovered on a beach in South Ronaldsay, Orkney Islands, (ND 463 900) after the recent storms. Unfortunately it was freshly dead, but intact, so its remains were sent to Scottish Agricultural College Veterinary Laboratory at Inverness. The carapace measured 290 mm long by 280 mm wide.
Report and Photograph by John McCutcheon


The Green Turtle inhabits tropical seas including the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea. This turtle is only very rarely recorded in British seas.

Photograph by John McCutcheon

Previous Report in 2003
BMLSS Turtles

1 December 2011
The invasive alien Carpet Sea Squirt, Didemnum vexillum, has new been discovered on the shore in Kent. This  colonial ascidian is an invasive and unattractive smothering species from the Pacific Ocean off Japan. It has occasionally been recorded in harbours but this is the first time it has spread to adjoining areas around England. 

BMLSS Tunicates

A gastropod mollusc new to science, a pretty little false cowrie in the family Ovulidae, Simnia hiscocki, was described from the Cornwall Peninsula, England, and compared with Simnia patula occurring in the same area, from which it differs in shell- and radula-morphological features as well as ecological features. DNA analysis suggests that it is a very young species whose host-specificity to the Pink Sea Fan, Eunicella verrucosa, makes it a potentially useful species for monitoring sea-temperature-change. 

BMLSS Molluscs
BMLSS Simnia

23 November 2011
An extremely rare record of a Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, was discovered and photographed by Nigel Jones at the foot of a cliff at Dunraven Bay, near Porthcawl, South Wales. 

Yellowfin Tuna
Photograph by Nigel Jones

The fish was identified from the photographs. It was only the third discovery on record from British seas.

BMLSS Tunnies

8 October 2011
Dr Peter Evans, Director of the marine research charity Sea Watch Foundation, confirmed that a small whale spotted in Mounts Bay next to the Cornish town of Penzance was a Dwarf Sperm Whale, Kogia sima, a tropical/subtropical species that has never before been recorded off the UK coast. This is the smallest whale in the oceans, little more than the size of a Porpoise.
Images

BMLSS Cetaceans

1 September 2011
Austin Taylor captured a series of excellent photographs of a Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis, at Firths Voe, Mossbank, in the Shetland Isles
Images at Austin Taylor Photography
Sea Watch Foundation on facebook

8 September 2011
Protection for key nature sites in UK seas has come a step closer with the unveiling of proposals to create over 100 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). 
The zones range from tiny stretches of coastline to large tracts of sea floor. The proposals were included in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and cover seas abutting the English coast and waters around Wales more than 12 miles from the coast. They will be assessed by an expert panel before the government makes its final decision. 
"The thousands of species of sea life and habitats that live hidden under our waters need just as much protection as those that we can see on land," said Richard Benyon, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
"We will scrutinise the recommendations carefully," vowed Peter Ryder, chairman of the Marine Protected Area Science Advisory Panel


1 September 2011

A species of Drumfish
Photograph by Nick Eggar

This fresh fish was discovered on sale at Plymouth Fish Market. It was probably captured in the south-western approaches (SW of Cornwall). However, it identity is a bit of a puzzle and has provoked discussion amongst the experts. It is definitely species of Drumfish in the family Sciaenidae as evidenced by two dorsal fins with the lateral line reaching all the way to its caudal (tail) fin. However, none of the four European species of Drumfish are normally found in British seas and its appearance does not match any of them exactly. The identity of this fish is still under enquiry.

Richard Lord makes a compelling case for this fish to be the Atlantic Croaker, Micropogonias undulatus, from a comparative photograph he took at Fulton Fish Market (New York). This species inhabits the shallow seas of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic west coast of the United States of America from Florida to Maine. This seems to be only the third record of this alien fish in European seas as a previous record of two juvenile specimens has been discovered in Belgian waters (Southern Bight of the North Sea): one in August 1998 as a by-catch of the commercial shrimp fishery in coastal waters, another in October 2001 on a tidal flat in the brackish part of the Scheldt Estuary

Pharyngeal Teeth of Drumfish

An alternative possible species is the Chi Drumfish, Umbrina cirrosa
Another candidate is the Corb, Sciaena umbra

    Please Email any ID suggestions.

27 August  2011
A Peacock Blenny, Salaria pavo (Risso, 1810), was seen on the Brittany coast, northern France: "It was found on the shore in the Golfe du Morbihan in south Brittany. They were the commonest fish on the shore, under rocks from mid-shore down."

Peacock Blenny
Report and Photograph by David Wilson on the Porcupine MNHS Facebook page.

This the most northerly occurrence of this Mediterranean blenny recorded. 
BMLSS Blennies

15 August 2011
One of the rarer deep water whales found around the British coast, a Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens, washed up near Thornham on the Norfolk coast. Unfortunately, the whale was was both washed up high on the salt marshes and was in such a poor condition out of the water it had to be euthanised. 

23 July 2011
The grim predictions turned out to be accurate as 25 Long-finned Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, died over night, 15 stranded at low tide on the sandbanks at Kyle of Durness,. A further 44 survived, a few of them successfully rescued by the efforts of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, rescuers from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) and other helpers in this remote location. 44 of the Pilot Whales successfully swam out to deeper water and away from danger. 

Report by Colin Bird (Link)
 

Stranded Pilot Whales
Photographs © by Wendy Sutherland (Thrumster, Caithness)

22 July 2011
Up to 15 out of a large school of sixty plus Long-finned Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, were spotted at high tide in 3.5 metres water in the narrow Kyle of Durness, on the remote northern Scottish mainland coast. There were concerns for their safety as at low tide the water in the shallow inlet is only 1.5 metres deep and contains numerous sandbanks. (Report entered two hours before low tide.) 

Stranded Pilot Whales
Photographs © by Alan Airey
Whales & Dolphins Gallery (by Alan Airey)

Update: Three whales, including a calf, had already stranded as the water in the estuary dropped.
Low Tide Update 8:00 pmFrom the original group of whales that entered the Kyle of Durness earlier in the day, thirty stranded live on a sandbank, with two having died. The original four animals that stranded earlier were still being cared for by trained medics and around twenty animals were still in the shallow water. 

British Divers Marine Life Rescue
BMLSS Cetaceans

17 June 2011
A dead and decomposed Moray Eel, Muraena helena, was removed from the water by the Condor ferry ramp in St. Peter Port Harbour, Guernsey. This southern sub-tropical species is an extremely rare discovery in British seas and is normally found found around the Azores, Canary Islands and in the Mediterranean Sea and further south. The last discovery in Guernsey seas was in 1996.


11 June 2011

Environmental Festival & Adur World Oceans Day 2011
Understanding and celebrating our marine environment

The wind and rain held off for the eleventh Adur Environment Festival and Adur World Oceans Day went well in the marquee on Coronation Green, by Shoreham Footbridge at the High Street end on the second Saturday of the Adur Festival. Len Nevell of the British Marine Life Study Society was there with the usual exhibition of lobsters and crabs
World Oceans Day on Facebook

"The aim of the event is to introduce the young visitors to the world of the sea and seashore, an opportunity they may not get. It is an educational event with an opportunity for children to participate in the interactive 
activities."
Quote by Andy Horton (British Marine Life Study Society)

Adur World Oceans Day Blogspot 2011 et seq.

8 June 2011
Spotted Bass, Dicentrarchus punctatus, was caught on rod and line by Lee Allen off the west coast of Jersey, Channel Islands. This southern warm water species is a rare visitor to the English Channel and differs from the common Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, by having dark black spots on its silver flanks. Only a handful of Spotted Bass have been reported from British seas, but some fish may have been dismissed as a variant of the Bass rather than a different species. 


31 May 2011

A  10.6 metre Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, was discovered washed up alive at dawn on the sandy beach at Redcar, Cleveland, near Middlesborough, in the north-east of England. The stricken 20 tonne mammal died a few hours later about 9.00 am.

BMLSS Cetaceans

21 May 2011
A large pod of 21 Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalis, was spotted in an area known as the Celtic Deep, between north Cornwall and south west Pembrokeshire, about 60 miles offshore. Becky Scott explained: “We saw five groups of Fin Whales in little over half an hour, in group sizes of up to seven. The whales were blowing frequently and some were lunge-feeding near the surface.” 
 
 

Fin Whale (Photograph by Tom Brereton)
Fin Whale
Krill Meganyctiphanes norvegica

Fin Whale Photograph by Dr Tom Brereton

"“We have been monitoring Fin Whale numbers in their Bay of Biscay stronghold for over 15 years, so we are used to seeing large numbers, but to see so many within British waters in close proximity is unprecedented and an exciting new discover," said Dr Tom Brereton of Marinelife.
Dr Jeroen van der Kooij from Cefas commented: “acoustic echosounders detected dense layers of krill as well as sandeel schools in the area, both of which are known to be key food sources for these animals.”


19 - 22 May 2011
A large school of sixty plus Long-finned Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, were spotted swimming around in the confined shallow coastal sea area of Loch Carnon, South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles, Scotland. Twenty of the small whales were recognised as being injured from colliding with rocks in the narrow sea inlet that opens out into the Sea of the Hebrides on the eastern side of the island. Experienced cetacean watchers said that the whales were very vocal. As with the school that visited the loch on 2010, there were serious concerns that the school of whales would become stranded on the shore with healthy whales following the sick and injured to their deaths. Finally the large school left the loch and swam south, but still close to the rocky coastline. Map of the Hebridean Seas
Map of Carnan Pier Area
BMLSS Cetaceans
Previous Report from Loch Carnan 2010
 

 

15 May 2011
An unusual orange European Lobster, Homarus gammarus,  was caught by a fisherman Steph Noel near Icho Bank, South of St Helier, Jersey, in his pots with the usual blue lobsters. Steph had only caught three similarly coloured lobsters in 27 years of fishing for them. The lobster was returned to the sea. 

Photograph by Steph Noel
Report by Nicolas Jouault via Société Jersiaise


BMLSS Abnormal Lobsters
 

21 April 2011
A Boar Fish (or Zulu Fish), Capros aper, was behaving strangely, swimming near the surface on an exposed rockpool at Challaborough Beach, south Devon, and we moved it from where we found it to a more secluded pool.

Report by Victoria Shore


This pretty deep water fish is occasionally found in shallow water of the south-west of England with occasional specimens a notable and interesting discovery between the tides
BMLSS Boar Fish

3 March 2011

A 13.7 metre long Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, was washed ashore dead at Pegwell Bay in north-east Kent. This deep water whale was suffering from starvation and dehydration. Sperm Whales are unusual in the relatively shallow water of the southern North Sea.  News: Sperm Whale stranded dead off the Northumberland Coast 2010

20 January 2011
Two large adult Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalis, announced their presence by blowing at the surface, of the southern Irish Sea, their spouts seen from from the Fishguard (Wales) to Rosslare (Ireland) car ferry. 
"It was incredibly exciting, the whales blast a thirty foot (10 metres) high column of vapour skywards as they surface to breath. In the cold winter air. The blow hangs in the sky like a massive crystal plume before slowly dissipating" (by Cliff Benson, Sea Trust.) These whales have been seen before in winter but it it is the first sighting during the winter months. 

Sea Trust Welsh Sightings
BMLSS Cetaceans

6 January 2011
A mass stranding of crabs occurred on the Isle of Thanet coast, Kent; about 40,000 Velvet Swimming Crabs, Necora puber, were discovered on the strandline amongst lesser numbers of molluscs, sea anemones, sponges and other washed up invertebrates. 

Previous Report 2010

British Marine Life News 2010
 
 


 

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