British Marine Life
News up to July 1997
British Marine Wildlife Headlines. Reports of newsworthy
marine animals discovered in the seas and on the shore around the British
Isles. Reports of pollution incidents etc.
This link includes News since August 1997
This is a very limited service. Links to other sites producing marine news
from the oceans of the world will be included when known.
References only. The entries are listed in chronological order, the most
recent first, from 1997 only.
15 August 1997. An oil slick from a leaking
MOD pipeline has caused a lot of mess on The Gosport side of Portsmouth
harbour. There are no reports of wildlife casualties.
June 1997. A Tope with an estimated
weight in excess of 42 kg (93 lb) was caught by Margaret Tuckwell whilst
fishing off Selsey Bill, Sussex, at a mark known as the Mixon
Hole, which is popular with divers. This weight would have been a world
record if the shark had been landed alive and weighed, but this specimen
was returned to the sea, The current rod and line record of Galeorhinus
galeus, is 37.4 kg (82 lb 8 oz) for a Tope caught off
Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, (southern North Sea) in 1991, with another large
fish caught in the same area in 1986. Tope are not very common in the English
Channel and most specimens are caught in the summer months. The sharks
migrate in from more southerly seas. The Tope caught at Selsey was 198
cm long and 78 cm in girth.
The weight has since be revised to an estimate of
Tom's Guide to New England Sharks, USA
June 1997. The continual rainfall and bad
weather all around the British Isles during June 1997 means that there
were very few rock pool reports for this month.
June 1997. Severe gales and heavy rainfall
at the end of June 1997 has resulted in a massive loss of sea bird chicks
off the east coast of England. At Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire, over 100,000
young Kittiwakes, out of a population of 130,000 - 150,000, perished after
five days of gales. On the Farne Islands, many young Puffins drowned in
their burrows. and the loss of Puffin and Guillemot chicks is estimated
at 75% of the large populations. (Source: Birds, the magazine of the RSPB).
19 May 1997. The Bottle-nosed Dolphin
that was first seen in the River Medway, north Kent, at Rochester Bridge,
in November 1996, has migrated down to the
estuary. It was sighted in deep water off the jetties at Sheerness Docks
on 10 May 1997. This week it was sighted regularly
from Sheerness and seems to go up and down the river with the tide. Report
from Bryan Vallance (Gillingham).
May 1997. A Smoothhound, Mustelus
sp.,with an estimated weight of 15 kg was caught off Aberthaw, Wales. It
was 127 cm long. The current rod and line record is under 13 kg. This genus
of sharks is commoner in more southerly seas. Two species are found in
British seas and even larger specimens may turn up.
7 May 1997. Tony
Blair, the new Prime Minister of the UK (Labour party), announces his new
Fisheries Team at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAFF). Jack
Cunningham, MP (Labour party) for Copeland in Cumbria, is the new Minister.
The Scottish Fisheries Minister is Lord Sewell, a Life Baron in the House
of Lords. The Fisheries Junior Minister at MAFF is Elliott Morley, MP for
Scunthorpe. The second in command at MAFF is Jeff Booker, MP for Birmingham
7 May 1997. The new Minister for the Environment
is the Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher MP. A Junior Minister is Angela Eagle MP.
23 April 1997. Martyn McDonald landed a Tadpole
Fish, Raniceps raninus, on rod and line using a lugworm
bait from the harbour arm at Newhaven, east of Brighton, East Sussex. The
fish was a fully grown adult fish about 28 cm long and weighed 0.7 kg (1
lb 8 oz). There are no BMLSS records of this fish being caught from the
shore off Sussex. The fish was dark brown with a white band half-way down
The fish is recorded as widespread and found all around the British coast,
but is a solitary and uncommon fish. The fish may be put on display at
the Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton. It may also be verified
as the largest shore caught specimen on rod and line. Andy
Horton has seen a live specimen at the Cullercoats Marine Laboratory
Aquarium, near Newcastle-on-Tyne.
18 April 1997. The new Macduff
Marine Aquarium is opend to the public on the south coast of the Moray
Firth. This Aquarium is devoted to British marine life with a large Kelp
Forest tank which is open to the elements. Macduff is near the fishing
port of Banff. Tel: 01261 833369.
15 April 1997. The European Fisheries Ministries
in Luxembourg voted for a 30% reduction in fishing in European waters implemented
over the next 5 years. The reduction applies to vessels over 10 metres
in length. Tony Baldry, Fisheries Minister stated that 'The UK will not
implement these measures until the quota-hopping issue is sorted out at
the International Governmental Conference'. Professor Alistair McIntyre
(Aberdeen) stated 'It was a very good step forward. It was high time that
the fishing pressure was reduced, and it would be good for the fishing
industry in the long term'. (Information from BBC1 News). There are also
restrictions on mesh sizes of nets which will affect French fishermen.
MAGP Deal 1997. The stocks are classified
in the fishing areas as follows: DR = seriously depleted, 30% cut in effort,
OF = overfished, 20% cut in effort. FE = fully exploited, no reduction
in effort required. [e.g North Sea (Area IV) DR stocks = cod, plaice, herring,
sole and mackerel. OF stocks = haddock, coley and hake. FE stocks = prawns
and whiting. (Source: Fishing News).]
31 March 1997. A 30 tonne oil slick was washed
up on the shores of the Isles of Scilly from a ship that ran aground a
week ago. The first oil was discovered around Porth Hellick on the eastern
side of the largest island of St. Mary's. Porth Hellick is a sandy bay
surrounded by rocky areas. When the oil seeps into the sand it will be
cleared up by removing the sand and oil. There is more fuel oil on the
container ship and attempts are planned to pump the oil on to a barge.
31 March 1997. The Sperm Whale that
swam into the Firth or Forth is found dead on mudflats. The prognosis was
never very good, with almost all these whales that venture into shallow
waters will eventually die shortly afterwards. See further information
below. From 5 May 1997, the skull of this
whale will be displayed at Edinburgh Museum.
28 March 1997. The New London Aquarium on
the South Bank, Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament, opened to the
public. It is situated in the former GLC headquarters.
24 March 1997. The Sperm Whale has
not been sighted in the Firth of Forth despite calm weather.
21 March 1997. A 13 metre long Sperm Whale,
macrocephalus, ventured too far up the Forth of Firth and appears to
be unable to escape from the shallow water by its own efforts. Three more
whales are on the seaward side of the Forth Bridges. As rescue is being
planned, but the whale is still there in the afternoon of 23 March 1997.
NB. Sperm Whales have become trapped in enclosed or shallow waters around
the British Isles lots of times in the last few years and individual cases
have not been included in the News Reports prior to 1997 when this Web
Site started. Notably a large pod were trapped inside Scapa Flow a few
years ago and there have been a surprisingly large number of reports from
North Sea coasts. For more information the Sea Watch
Foundation, previously the European Cetacean Society may be able to
help. Important telephone numbers are included on the Stranded
7 March 1997. A dolphin has been washed up
dead at Telscombe Cliffs, a few miles east of Brighton, Sussex. This is
an unusual occurence this far east up the English Channel. On 5 March 1997,
a very small Sunfish,
Mola mola, measuring only about 50
cm x 50 cm, was reported by Jon Makeham from Looe, Cornwall., washed up
dead and already scavenged. Large Sunfish are usually reported in summer
and small ones occasionally, notably off west Scotland.
Steve Savage was unable to confirm the stranded Common Dolphin, reported
by telephone by the EA (NRA).
A half-mile long oil slick was washed up in patches and globules of oil
onto Bracklesham Bay, Beach, West Sussex, south of Chichester, on 2
March 1997. Initially, there were no reports of oiled birds.
On 24 February 1997, a dolphin, probably a
Dolphin was washed up dead on the shore at Hayling Island, Hampshire,
east of the Isle of Wight, after a week of gales. (see notes below on Cornish
On 15 February 1997, a small 10 cm Triggerfish,
capriscus, was discovered by Jon Makeham, in fishing nets in Looe Harbour.
This is a very early record of a Triggerfish. In the last decade adult
fish have been regularly caught by anglers and fishermen and seen by divers
in Cornish waters and in Lyme Bay, Dorset during the summer and autumn.
However, this is the first record of a young specimen caught in winter.
On 14 February 1997, William Falla, caught
a Sea Horse. Hippocampus hippocampus, at a depth of about
55 metres south of St. Martins Point, Guernsey. This specimen was recovered
alive and housed in an aquarium. Reports are so regular that a separate
file on this web site will be created in March 1997.
On 13 February 1997 a female Sea Horse,
hippocampus, was caught by Mark Blondel fishing for spider crabs in
60 metres (200 ft) 8 to 10 miles SE of St. Martins Point, Guernsey. See
other reports of sea horses in Channel Islands seas below.
From 10 February 1997,
over 200 oiled birds have been washed up on a 60 mile stretch of the Sussex
shore between Selsey Bill in the west and Hastings in the west.The birds
were mostly diving species including Guillemots. They were covered in heavy
oil believed to be discharged illegally by a merchant ship under cover
of bad weather. Clive Pepe (RORE) reports a film of oil on Rottingdean
18 January 1997. A male Tope that was
tagged on 17 July 1994 off the Isle of Tiree,
west Scotland (Inner Hebrides, west of Mull), was captured off the SE of
Iceland in 220 metres of water by an Icelandic trawler in the Sidugrunn
area. Information from the West of Scotland Tope and Common Skate Web site.
Access is through the index on BMLSS (Facebook).
Tagging and Conservation
Index (Scottish Site)
An oil slick of about 2,000 gallons was washed ashore at East Looe beach
and has seriously polluted the shore with a large mortality of limpets.
This was first noticed by John Makeham on the 25th
January 1997. Hannafore Beach at West Looe was not seriously effected
although there was oil on the strandline. A one eyed Grey Seal continues
to visit Looe during the early months of the year.
26 dolphins and porpoises were washed up dead on the shores
of Cornwall during January 1997. Many show
signs of being injured by fishing nets, not by the locals, but by large
trawlers fishing much further out to sea. One specimen identified as a
Common Dolphin was washed up at Looe on the 20th January.
A Common Dolphin, Delphinus delphis, was trapped in Emsworth
Harbour, West Sussex on 10 January 1997. Southern
Marine Life Rescue (Andy Williams) and RSPB attended. The dolphin was swimming
around in circles and appeared ill or injured. This species is seen in
the summer months of the Dorset coast but is uncommon as far east as Sussex.
On Saturday 11 January 1997, the dolphin was
rescued but died immediately after being captured.
A sea slug, Tylodina perversa,
was found at Hannafore, Looe in December 1996
by Jon Makeham. This is the first record in the British Isles of this Mediterranean
species. The specimen description has satisfied the experts. In March
1997, Jon Makeham discovered a further specimen. More information
available. Please request by EMail.
6 December 1996
Four Fin Whales seen off Cape Cornwall, inside the
Brisons Rocks SW344314
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1996.
A Moray Eel, Muraena helena, was
caught in parlour pot (creel) just north of Herm, Channel Islands (English
Channel) on 3 October 1996. It is very rare
in English Channel with perhaps 6 records in 100 years. More information
held. It was put on display in Guernsey Aquarium.
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea,
is washed up dead on the Orkney island of Sanday.
A Swordfish, Xiphias gladius,
was spotted in the Forth of Lorne, west Scotland, in September
1996. The two metre long fish jumped out of the water. It is very
rare in British seas. Report by Andrew Johnson. More .
4 September 1996
The discovery of the Beluga Whale,
swimming in Hoswick Bay (near Sandwick) late in the afternoon was a first
for the Shetland Islands. The species is very distinctive being almost
entirely white in colour and lacking any dorsal (back) fin.
and Full Report (Shetland Isles Wildlife)
September 1996: A Fraser's Dolphin,
hosei, is washed up dead on the coast of South Uist, Outer Hebrides.
The identification has been confirmed by the Natural History Museum, London
Stranded Whales & Dolphin Report Numbers
A Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus, hauled up on the footbridge
supports in Shoreham-by-Sea town centre in Sussex in July
1996. It was well off its beaten track where Common Seals, Phoca
vitulina, are vagrants and Grey Seals unheard of..
by Steve Savage (Portslade)
An Atlantic Bonito, Sarda sarda, was caught by angler of
the Marloes peninsula, S W Wales in July 1996.
It was only the eighth confirmed record from Wales this century. Report
by Kate Lock. More.
cabrilla, was captured in a crab pot in June 1996 off Cornwall, and
put on display at Mevagissey Aquarium (closed for the winter). It is very
rarely caught in British seas, but a breeding population could exist in
the English Channel as this was a young specimen. More.
A species of Cusk-Eel, Lamprogrammus
sccherbachevi, a deep water fish from the family Ophidiidae is brought
up from deep water 80 miles west of the Isle of Lewis, in the Atlantic
Ocean. This is only the fifth specimen ever recorded. This family of fish
normally inhabits the Continental Slope (slope from the Continental Shelf
to the Abyssal Plain).
On 15 February 1996 the Sea
Empress grounded at the entrance to Milford Haven, SW Wales. The
next week resulted in a disastrous spill of 73,000 tonnes into the rich
and varied marine environment.
Sea Empress Diary
On 30 January 1996, a Short-nosed
Hippocampus hippocampus, was caught by an Alderney
fisherman in a lobster trap. This is the rarer of two seahorses recorded
in the English Channel (see news below) and is caught with some frequency
in deep water (over 30 metres) around the Channel Islands. One individual
was caught off Jersey a week before, and another one just before Christmas
off Alderney. There are 13 records from off Jersey for 1995. The latest
specimen was returned to the sea. Information from
Lord (Guernsey). More information held.
A Moonfish, or Torsk, Brosme brosme, is found dead on an
Orkney beach. This species is fished extensively by the Norwegians and
is perhaps common in these northern seas.
Norwegian Marine ***
a photographic portrait of this fish.
A male Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys
coriacea, is landed by an Isle of Skye fisherman in Aros Bay, Uig.
It is over 2 metres long.
At least five specimens of the Sea Horse, Hippocampus guttulatus
(=H. ramulosus), were captured in Weymouth Bay, Dorset, by a fishing
boat obtaining specimens for the Sea Life Centres in September
Records of this small fish in the English Channel on the British side are
very rare. A few years before a specimen was discovered in a rock pool
in the Fal estuary, Cornwall. They were recorded in Victorian times. It
is debatable whether they breed in British seas. More information held.
1995. The seas of the coast of Norway
were exceptionally warm and several Triggerfish,
capriscus, were caught, possibly for the first time.
3 September 1995 There was a radio news report
of a Sailfin
Dory, Zenopsis conchifer, being caught off the south
coast. This fish is a poor swimmer and normally lives off the west coast
29 August 1995
The first confirmed British record of the above fish, as described by Swaby
& Potts (1999).
2002 record of this fish
The first record in British seas of the Big-eyed
Thresher Shark, Alopias superciliosus, came from the largest
recorded specimen in the world from the Porcupine Bight in August
1995. The full report by Teresa Thorpe is in the Vernal/Summer 1996
In early July 1995 a giant jellyfish was found
washed up on the shore outside the Museum of Galloway Life in Gatehouse
of Fleet (SW Scotland). It was discovered by Neil Barclay and weighed 9
kg (20 lb). It measured 61 cm (24 in) in diameter. The species was
not identified in the report, but it was probably the Lion's Mane Jellyfish,
capillata. This species is dangerous with numerous stinging cells that
can be painful to humans.
Moon Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, recorded
in Shoreham Harbour, Sussex.
17 March 1995
A North American Lobster was brought up
in a pot with a European Lobster 30 miles south of the Isle of Wight by
a south Devon boat. It is a berried female and was taken to the Marine
Biological Association at Plymouth where it has been put into quarantine
until the eggs are hatched and will be put on view to the public in their
later. The claws are a different shape and reddish on the underside and
the rostrum is rather longer than on the European Lobster.
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
22 January 1995
A Humpback Whale was observed for
about one hour, feeding on Mackerel off the Eddystone Lighthouse, an island
off south Cornwall.
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
On 24 April 1994, a rare white whale was spotted
in the sea to the east of the Isle of Skye. This whale was believed to
be the Beluga Whale,
Hydrothermal Vents eco-system discovered in the deep sea Atlantic Ocean.
Autumn/Winter 1996 Contents
The Autumn/Winter 1996 Glaucus contains features on the Lesser Octopus,
Diving in Ireland and Sussex, The Educational Marine Aquarium, Book and
CD-ROM Reviews, Wildlife Reports in full, The Marine
Biological Collector and more. See Link for Contents
The Vernal/Summer 1996 issue of Glaucus contain extensive coverage of
the Sea Empress Disaster in February of 1996. Wildlife Reports include
a feature on Feather Stars, a Lobster's Meal Time,
Rockpooling on Gelliswick Bay, and Cushion Stars.
Wildlife Records 1996
Wildlife Records 1997
Wildlife Records 1998
Wildlife Records 1999
Wildlife Records 2000
Wildlife Records 2001
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1993
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1994
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1996
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1997