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  • SPECIES > 

British Marine Life Study Society
Marine Wildlife News 1998
(British Isles)

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.

Link to 1999 News Reports

December 1998
A dozen Dolphins were reported from Gerrans Bay from Portscatho, south Cornwall, which is unusual so late in the year.

    7 December 1998
    New Fishing Quotas by scientists at The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for 1999 are drawn up. They are due to be unveiled at the Fisheries Ministers meeting on 17 December 1998

    5 December 1998
    A dead female Striped Dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba, was washed up in the marine lake at Clevedon. There have been four reported strandings in British and Irish waters between 1913 and 1962 and 16 between 1962 and 1988.
    Bristol Naturalists Newsletter
    Another Report

    December 1998 
    A male Lobster, Homarus gammarus, weighing 6.12 kg (13½ lb) was caught 4 miles out of Eastbourne, Sussex, by a fishermen after Cod. This a huge specimen. It is being kept alive. On 15 December 1998 it was transferred to the Brighton Sea Life Centre.

    Lobster Page.
  • 28 November 1998
  • Tony Clancy and Steve Connor found a dead Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, washed up on Aveley Bay, Rainham, East London.
  • Report by Andrew Middleton
  • More Information
  • November 1998
  • A record shore caught Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta, was landed from the rocks at Portland, a Dorset hotspot at the end of November by angler Pete Hegg from Portland. It weighed 4.1 kg (9 lb 1 oz). The fish is being kept alive. It is slightly lighter than the largest specimen caught on rod and line from a boat but exceeds the current  record from the shore of  4.0 kg. The Pulpit Rock area is famous for large wrasse which are usually returned alive. 
  • British Wrasse link page
  • A large Sunfish, Mola mola, was washed up dead on Gibraltar Point beach, near Skegness, Lincolnshire. This specimen of a normally large fish weighed an estimated 68 kg (150 lb) and measured just over a metre long (3½ ft). The height, including the fins was 1.38 metres (4½ ft). These fish tend to be infected with parasites. This specimen had over 100 tapeworms in its gut.

  • On the west coast the Sunfish is reported several times every year, and not unusual enough for every single entry to be included in these News Reports. We still like to hear of observations of this fish. It is rarer in the North Sea. Off Dorset a specimen has even been seen by a diver underwater. 
    Gibraltar Point is a sandy spit at the top of the Wash. There is a field station there belonging to Leeds University and it is used by many bird watchers etc. 
  • Report by Andy Colls (Chesterfield) 

  •  A Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was washed up on Gibraltar Point beach near Skegness, Lincolnshire in November 1998. It was just over 2 metres long and was damaged by what looked like another shark bite. Although usually regarded as a southern shark, specimens have been reported before from off the north-east coast of England, including a specimen in shallow water earlier in the year. 
  • Report by Andy Colls (Chesterfield)
  • 17 November 1998
  • The alien Chinese Mitten Crab, Eriocheir sinensis, was discovered in the Teign estuary, Devon. This is a serious pest species and an investigation is underway. This crab has not been discovered on the English Channel coast before. 
  • 31 October 1998
  • A dead Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was washed into Fowey Harbour, Cornwall. It was about 2 metres long.  (Report by Jon Makeham).

  • October 1998
  • Blackfish, Centrolophus niger, was caught from East Yorkshire's Aldbrough beach by Simon Ostler, from Beverley East Yorkshire. It weighed 2.8 kg (6 lb 2 oz). The last reported specimen caught  was 10 years ago, when a smaller fish was caught  from Lincolnshire's Moggs's Eye beach. (Len Nevell, Sea Angling Reports). 
  • This fish usually inhabits water of over 100 metres deep, and the North Sea is shallower, although a trench called the Silver Pit of this depth occurs off the Wash. 
  • It is unusual for the Blackfish  to be as far south in the North Sea as Yorkshire.  Main sightings in catches are from off west Scotland in deeper waters. Nine specimens have been caught by fishermen from 1987-1996.  Since the development of more deep sea fishing off Scotland they have become more numerous in catches.

  • The Cornish Blackfish, Schedophilus medusophagus, is very similar in appearance to the Common Blackfish. The last record for this latter fish is one caught off Ireland in August 1996 and brought into Newlyn , Cornwall (from Doug Herdson).
  • 29 October 1998
  • A massive 340 kg (750 lbBluefin Tunny (or Tuna), Thunnus thynnus, was captured on a Mackerel long-line off Plymouth.  (Corrected Report by Doug Herdson). The Bluefin Tunny, is usually the only large species of tunny found in British seas, although it is very scarce nowadays.The original report was of a Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, but this is now corrected. Yellow-fin are found in the Caribbean Sea.  The Yellowfin is such a rare vagrant that it up to 1978, there was only one record of a dead fish from off SW Wales in 1972. 
  • Plymouth:  National Aquarium        Link to Official Site
  • 20 October 1998
  • Twenty White-sided Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus acutus, were seen from the Skerries to Vidlin ferry, Shetland Islands, in the afternoon.
  • 9 October 1998
  • 15 Striped Dolphins, Stenella coeruleoalba, were spotted by Jean Lawman off Gwnapp Head, Devon. These dolphins are rarely seen or stranded in the English Channel.
  • October 1998
  • A large Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris, was brought into Plymouth Aquarium. It was believed to have been caught off the extreme south-west of Cornwall. The Common Octopus has been rare in British seas for about 35 years, apparently since the cold winter of 1963. 
  • BMLSS Octopus Page
  • More Information (John Liddiard External Site)
  • The Looe boats also brought in a Squid measuring over 2 metres from the beak to the tail, excluding the tentacles. The species was not identified. (Jon Makeham Report).
  • September - November 1998
  • Large numbers of jellyfish, Pelagia noctiluca, have been stranded over the period September to early November 1998 on the west coast of Ireland. This is an exceptional event and it is the first time they have been recorded in such numbers in Irish waters. 

  • The recent event started off Co. Donegal in August and has spread to the west coast of Ireland where, during October, it has occurred in sufficiently large numbers to kill cultivated salmon.
    This jellyfish has a potent sting.
    Full Report
  • September 1998
  • Blue Spiny Spider Crab, Maja squinado, caught off Jersey. It is now living happily in a friend's aquarium. It is 95 mm across the carapace and is a habitat in its own right with two species of anemone, sea mat, at least two species of sponges as well as the barnacles living on its carapace. The size of the barnacles seem to indicate that it hasn't shed its shell for some time. Another oddity is that it has both male and female characteristics and is what local fishermen charmingly refer to as a 'puffter'! 

  • This abnormality is caused by the parasitic barnacle


  • A further specimen of a blue Spider Crab was caught off the Isle of Wight in November or December 1998, and another one earlier in the autumn off Dorset. At the end of January 1999, Jon Makeham reported a vivid blue Spider Crab dead on Looe Harbour beach.

  • This crab is usually orange-brown all over. 
    Spider Crab Mounds (link)

    A bright blue specimen of the Velvet Swimming Crab, Necora puber, was collected by a diver at Thatcher's Rock, Torbay, Devon in the spring of 1998. Also a bright red specimen of this swimming crab was collected by Jon Makeham from the shore at Looe in October 1998

    We also had another Seahorse brought up on a lobster pot off Jersey - the usual species Hippocampus hippocampus, but this time a male. He has gone to the Seahorse Centre now at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth to join the three females from Jersey who went there in February. Fingers crossed for the patter of tiny prehensile tails. Pic

    (Sue Daly Report: Channel Islands (BMLSS *** Site)

    Between 21 and 26 September 1998
    One fisherman caught around 120 Seahorses, Hippocampus hippocampus, (in total) in 5 days time (5 hauls) close to the Belgian coast. These fish are rather inconspicuous between other bycatch organisms and debris, it might well be that more were caught in the net and discarded, and also that a number came loose during the hauling of the net (given the mesh size, the animals must have been attached by the tail to the net or bryozoan colonies caught in the net).

    BMLSS Seahorses
  • September 1998
  • A Spanish Mackerel, Scomber japonicus, of 468 grams (16.5 oz) was caught from the shore on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, by Neil Montgomery.  Spanish Mackerel are rare this far north, and there is no entry in the Scottish records for this fish. (Scottish Angler sources).
  • 29 September 1998
  • Spoonbill, Platalea leucorodia, was spotted on the small flooded area next to the ferry terminal at Symbister on Whalsay, Shetland Isles. This large and very white bird with its characteristic large spoon-shaped bill was discovered during the early evening and was happily 'spooning' through the water right alongside the road. It is only the fourth record of the species in Shetland and only the second record this century. 
  • More information on the Shetland Wildlife News Web Site
  • Sea Birds page

  • The Spoonbill is now regarded as unusual but not the startling rarity it used to be in the estuaries in the south-east of England. 

    27 September 1999

  • Sussex Dolphins
  • 25 September 1998
  • A Small-scaled Scorpionfish, Scorpaena porcus, was caught in set net on the Eddystone Reef, Devon. This venomous fish usually lives in the Mediterranean. 
  • Report by Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth)
  • Plymouth Aquarium Rare Fish Records (Compiled by Doug Herdson)
  • 23 September 1998
  • The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, announced that the water companies should end the discharge of raw sewage into the sea. Exactly how this will be achieved is not clear at present. The Marine Conservation Society, who have mounted a 12 year campaign against sewage disposal into the sea must take some credit, but also the Government have to implement a EC Directive. 
  • 21 September 1998
  • A Sea HareAplysia depilans, floated into St. Peter Port harbour, Guernsey, British Channel Islands on September 21.  It weighed 242 grams and was 147 mm long and  80 mm wide.  The parapodia (conspicuous lateral lobes) of Aplysia depilans are fused posteriorly.
  • Aplysia depilans
  • This is the first A. depilans I have seen although in June and July of this year I saw at least one hundred of the commoner A. punctata either spawning on seaweed or washed up on Guernsey beaches.  (Report by Richard Lord from Guernsey,

  • September 1998
  • Two huge Porbeagle Sharks, Lamna nasus, were caught from two Sunderland based salmon fishing boats. Very large sharks are caught every three to four years. The first shark was estimated to weigh 190 kg (420 lb), and the second a massive (unbelievable) 363 kg (800 lb). The British and World angling record is 230 kg (507 lb). Angling Records Link Page. The British record for the Mako Shark, Isurus  oxyrinchus, is about the same, although the world records for this shark stands at 506 kg.  The seas around Coquet Island (near Amble) are a regular haunt of Porbeagles if they are present. In August, two Porbeagles were caught in the sea off  the Tyne, an event that occurs every year, and in late September, one measuring 2.3 metres long was landed at Hartlepool. (Records not checked for duplication).
  • These could be Mako Sharks?
  • NB:  The Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias, has been recorded at a weight of 3312 kg (7302 lb). The largest ever fish caught on rod and line in British waters was a Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, from a Whitby boat in 1933 that weighed in at 386 kg (851 lb). Other notable fish of a different species included a Sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, at a weight of 317 kg (700 lb) off the Orkney Isles in 1956. This Sturgeon was 3.18 metres long. However, a Sunfish, Mola mola, weighing 363 kg, was washed up on Tayside, Scotland, in 1960. Basking Sharks grow much larger.
  • 13 September 1998
  • Six Pilot Fish, Naucrates ductor, were caught in a Pilchard net in Mevagissey Bay, Cornwall, about 100 metres offshore. The fish were about 20 cm (8 in) long. Unfortunately, they did not survive their incidental capture and could not be kept in the Mevagissey Harbour Marine Aquarium. One fish remained alive long enough for its natural colours to be discerned. It was slate-grey with 5 purple-black stripes. This fish has a keel preceding the tail fin. The white tips to the tail fin and the anal fin were more noticeable than the books usually show. This fish has a series of small spines preceding the first dorsal fin.
  • The Pilot Fish is a rare visitor to the south-west of Britain. It acquired its common name from its habit of accompanying sharks, turtles and large floating objects. The best guess is that it accompanied the Basking Sharks that were unusually common this year. There are no British angling records for this small fish.
  • (Report and photograph by Chris Gilbertson from Mevagissey Harbour Marine Aquarium.)
  • The Pilchard fishery has resumed on a small scale off Mevagissey about 6 years ago after a long absence. The Comber thrives in the Mevagissey Harbour Marine Aquarium. 
  • September 1998
  • Out of 10 Rabbit-fish, Chimaera monstrosa, caught by a trawler off Looe, one remained alive long enough for it to be housed in Looe Aquarium. The Rabbit-fish usually lives in water deeper than 300 metres, where it is abundant. This is the first report I have received of this fish in a British aquarium in recent years. 
  • (Jon Makeham Report). Pic.
  • September 1998
  • Although the total number of Blue Sharks, Prionace glauca, were down  this year from boats going out from Looe (the sharks are returned alive), a specimen was caught by Gary McCall from Ruislip, Middlesex, (on the boat "Swallow" skippered by Murray Collins), that exceeded their scales and was estimated to weigh 71 kg (157 lb) . It was 2.6 metres (8 ft 7") long with a girth of 95.25 cm (371/2 in). The British record is 68.5 kg (151 lb) from Looe in 1959.
  • Comparative record:  a Six-gill Shark, Hexanchus griseus, of 142.8 kg (315 lb) has been caught by an angler off Ireland (in 1993) but the record was ineligible.
  • 7 September 1998
  • Diesel oil spillage of 400,000 litres (400 tonnes) in Shoreham Harbour, Sussex, (east end of the Canal) from a bungled burglary. The environmental damage is expected to be small as most of the oil was prevented from entering the canal part of the harbour, connected to the sea.
  • August 1998

  • A pair of Northern Bottle-nosed Whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus, visited Broadford Bay, Isle of Skye. These were almost certainly immature animals as they were only 5.5 to 6 metres long; adults can grow up to 9.5 metres. They are very rare in inshore waters, they normally live off Nova Scotia, and north Atlantic waters. They are probably the deepest diving of all the whales with the ability to dive to over 1,500 metres and can allow over 1 hour between breaths. The whales were very active and breached regularly for periods between one and two hours, giving spectacular displays. They came in to 30 metres from the shore. 

        Illustration by Chris Hicks

    The whales never appeared distressed, although at times they were in alarmingly
    shallow water, less than 5 metres. They always returned to deeper water if they got too close to the beach. After three weeks we noticed the whales had lost weight and it was obvious they were not eating. In the last week their behaviour changed and they started to disappear for long periods underwater which I interpreted as hunting forays.
    Report by Nigel Smith 
    Further information
    On 17 August 1998, three Northern Bottle-nosed Whales were seen in shallow water at Bere Island, County Cork, Ireland. One became stranded and died, but two of them were seen to leave Bantry Bay. 

  •  29 August 1998
  • Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was spotted between Caldy Island and Tenby off the south-west Wales coast.  (Will Thomas Report)
    Leiden, August 1998


    The European Union for Coastal Conservation EUCC) has recently started its international public awareness programme aimed at improving the implementation of the EU Habitat Directive. Called "Green Islands for Natura 2000"; the programme seeks to persuade governments into fulfilling their obligations to create relevant conservation measures to preserve habitats and species of Community interest.

    Click on the logo for the Link for more information 

    EUCC Official Green Islands   Site Link

  • August 1998.

  • An Electric Ray, Torpedo nobiliana, was caught by angler Steve Alnutt off Shoreham Beach, Sussex. It weighed 8 kg (18 lb) and was returned alive. It was landed with some difficulty, because the powerful electric shocks transmitted up the line. 
  • 27 August 1998
  • Ten White-sided Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus acutus, were seen  in Whiteness Voe, Shetland Islands. (near the Deeps, SW Zetland ?)
  • Shetland Sea Mammal Report 1998
  • 16 August 1998
  • A pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, were spotted by the Shoreham lifeboat crew from their boat while out on an exercise. Three days later, they were observed from the shingle beach, swimming about 50 metres offshore, near Hove lagoon, Sussex (near Shoreham Harbour).  All species of dolphins are rarely seen off Sussex and there were no reports from 1997. The heatwave from 7 August continues and the temperatures have reached 28° C every day for nearly two weeks on the Sussex coast. 
  • More Sussex dolphins below.
  • Sussex Dolphins (article)
  • On 27 September 1998 approx 15 miles South of Hastings, East Sussex, we spotted a couple of Bottle-nosed Dolphins whilst out on a fishing trip. One came over to the boat when we started motoring and treated us to a 'bow wave' show for a good couple of minutes. (Chris Everson Report).
  • Sussex Dolphins 1998
  • 15 August 1998
  • 8 - 10 specimens of the uncommon Red Band Fish Cepola rubescens, were discovered swimming in a vertical position above their burrows in Portland Bay, Dorset.
  • Forum Report by Simon Hamner. 
  • On 22 August 1998 Peter Glanvill observed Red-Band Fish near the wreck of the Countess of Erne (Portland Harbour). Forum Report.
  • December 1998: Population now estimated to be several hundred in Portland Bay, that remain throughout the winter and do not migrate into deeper water. 
  • 13 & 14 August 1998
  • Two Shortfin Mako Sharks, Isurus oxyrinchus, (one about 5 metres and the other larger) were caught in salmon nets about 3 miles SE of Whitby, North Yorkshire. (One of sharks had 3 Lampreys Petromyzon marinus embedded in it.) 
  • (National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, Rare Fish Records)
  • The fisherman who caught the fish was positive that these sharks were not Porbeagles and commented on the striking white belly and triangular teeth.  One of about 5 metres (14 ft) was captured in a monofilament salmon net.   The following day a similar but apparently larger shark was seen to go through the net. 
  • (NB: Mako's do not normally inhabit the cold waters of the North Sea, which even in August may only reach 14° C)
  • 14 August 1998
  • The carcass of a  Striped Dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba, was found washed ashore at Northcott Mouth, Cornwall.  SS 201085
  • Cornish Marine Wildlife Reports 1998 (by Ray Dennis) 
  • 13 August 1998
  • Louvar, Luvarus imperialis, a rare and spectacular fish, (deep bodied, with a high almost vertical profile and a brilliant pale pink lower body and deep blue above), of the open oceans was caught off Newlyn, Cornwall. Records off this fish are extremely rare in British Seas.
  • Full Report on Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1998
  • 12 August 1998
  • A Stone Bass (Wreckfish), Polyprion americanus, was caught in beam trawl 2 to 3 miles south of Start Point, Devon. 

  • Wreckfish (Photograph by Andy Horton)

    Wreckfish in the old MBA Public Aquarium at Plymouth (different fish)

  • c. 11 August 1998
  • A massive two metre long Halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, was caught by fishermen and brought into Aberdeen. It weighed 135 kg (298 lb). Although in the past Halibut up to 2.5 metres long were reported, these fish no longer get the opportunity to attain this size. They are caught before they grow to their maximum size. 
  • Report from Ruth Hughes, Westminster Mail & Times. 
  • The largest fish caught on rod and line from a boat in British seas weighed 106 kg (234 lb) and was caught by C. Booth off Dunnet Head, north Scotland, in 1979. 
  • In 1957 a fish of about 227 kg (500 lb) was landed by commercial fishermen at Grimsby. 
  • The World Angling Record for Halibut is from Norwegian seas. The largest Hippoglossus hippoglossus caught on rod and line from a boat in Norway weighed 161.2 kg and was caught at Valevågsbråtet the 20th of October 1997. I don't know the commercial record, but the biggest Hippoglossus hippoglossus caught on Iceland (I think the biggest ever caught) was 3.65 m long and weighed 266 kg. 
  • Information of the largest fish from Norway and Iceland was provided by Pål Enger. 
  • 6 August 1998
  • A pod of at least six Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, was seen in Sandwick Bay, SE Unst, Shetland Isles. 

  • Further information including photographs on the Shetland Wildlife News Web Site
  • Also, see below.
  • 9 August 1998
  • Scores of bathers are injured by the sharp shellfish (mollusc) known as the Razorshell or Razorfish,Ensis ensis, on Paignton Beach, Devon, on a very low tide. Razorshells  live buried under the sand, but will rise to the surface of the sand to feed. Many of the Razorshells seem to have died during the heatwave leaving the sharp remains of the shell above the surface of the sand in the shallow water.
  • Razorshell
  • 8 August 1998
  • The Minke Whale (see below) becomes stranded on the Mersey mudflats at low tide. The 6 tonne whale was towed back out to sea a second time and never seen again.
  • 7 August 1998
  • Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, swam into the Mersey estuary at Hayle and seems unable to return to the open waters of the Irish Sea.
  • In a mini heat-wave, the temperatures reach 290C on the English Channel coast.

  • 7 August 1998
    Hundreds of Compass Jellyfish, Chrysaora hysoscella, were seen 3 miles off  Torbay, Devon. 
  • 1 August 1998
  • Continual poor weather, with rain reported in most days of July, and small tornados reported near the end of the month with thunderstorms. Marine wildlife reports were predictably poor. 
  • 26 July 1998
  • The pod of at least 6 Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, seen yesterday spent most of the day around the coast of Fladdabister in the Shetland Isles, before heading back north in the evening to Gulberwick and around into Briewick Bay again.



    25 July 1998 
    A pod of at least 6 Killer Whales including a large male and a very young individual, spent the evening in Briewick Bay, Lerwick, before moving slowly south at around 
    8.00 p.m. 

  • 22 July 1998
  • Little Egrets, Egretta egretta, spotted flying over Brighton, Sussex. These birds are an unusual occurrence on the northern English Channel coast (Sussex) but reports seem to becoming commoner. From Ian Lawes (Compuserve Forum).
  • The egrets were first noticed in 1989 and by 1996 the influx meant that these birds were a definite new permanent addition to the the British avian fauna in the south of England. 
  • Notes
  • Photograph by Andy Horton.
  • This bird is not included in some general books of British Birds; it should be!
  • Little Egrets on the River Adur
  • 14 July 1998

  • A pod of 12 Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus ,were seen about 14 miles off Sumburgh Head, between the Shetland Isles and Fair Isle, (the small island midway between the Shetland Isles and the Orkneys), during the late morning, heading south-west. They were photographed from a helicopter and also from the Fair Isle ferry which was about 100 metres away from them. 
  • 12 July 1998.
  • Gales and driving rain reported from all over Britain and News and Rockpooling Reports are expected to be few because of the awful weather. 
  • Early July 1998 
  • Sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, reported from Kinlochbervie, Western Highlands, Scotland.  The fish weighed 27 kg (60 lb) and was taken at sea near Sule Rock, between Cape Wrath and the Orkneys. Kinlochbervie is a fishing port just south of Cape Wrath, the most northerly point of the western part of the peninsula of mainland Scotland (John o' Groats is on the east). 
  •  3 July 1998Bournemouth Oceanarium opened to the public.
  • The centrepiece display is a re-creation of the Great Barrier Reef, but there are displays from seas all around the world, including the British Isles and an Antarctic Ice Shelf display. 

  •  Contact:  Nikki Hasell  Tel: 01202 311993 
    A list of Public Aquaria in the U.K. can be found at: pan2.htm

    20 June 1998 
    Five White-sided Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus acutus, were seen off Hamnavoe, (West Burra islands, south of Scalloway) Shetland Islands, during the afternoon, along with about 30 Harbour Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena
    Shetland News Web Site

  • 13 June 1998. Several hundred White-beaked Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus albirostris, were seen off Sumburgh Head, Shetland Isles, during the early afternoon. 
  • 26 May 1998
  • Silver Pomfret,  Pterycombus brama, was caught in shallow water, in St. Gerrans Bay, Cornwall. 
  • Report by Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth)
  • This is a species of the open ocean that reaches a maximum size of about 40 cm. It has exceptionally large dorsal and anal fins, a big eye and a mouth that points upwards. It is related to Ray's Bream , and is often placed with it in the Bramidae, although some fish experts place pomfret in the Pteraclidae. Alwyne Wheeler notes that Silver Pomfret have been caught by Spanish and Portuguese line fishermen at depths of about 128 metres and there are many reports of stranded individuals on the Norwegian coast. Little is known about its biology except that it spawns off Florida and in the Caribbean.
  • Extra Information by  Peter Henderson (Pisces Conservation)
  • 16 May 1998 
  • Jon Makeham discovered 20 specimens of the Mediterranean prawn Hippolyte longirostris at Hannafore Point, Looe. This species has only been recorded twice before in Britain.
  • May 1998

  • An offshore species of fish caught near Coverack, Cornwall, was a Greater 
    Argentine, Argentina silus. These are rather torpedo-shaped fish reaching 
    a maximum size of about 50 cm. They are believed to normally feed on fish, 
    crustaceans and squids.
    Report by Paul Gainey via Peter Henderson (Pisces Conservation)
  • Basking Sharks
  • Cetorhinus maximus
      Report by Colin Speedie (Cornish Wildlife Trust) 
  •  In May 1998 literally hundreds of Basking Sharks were seen off the Lizard Peninsula, southern Cornwall.
  • Illustration by Jane Lilley 
  • From the vantage point of the high cliffs the whole sea was covered with sharks from 
  • close inshore to  the horizon. 
  • The sharks first arrived about 12 May 1998, and a few days later their numbers were estimated to exceeded 200. 
  • They were still around at the beginning of June. 
          Shark Trust  Basking Shark  Web Page: 
  • 6 May:  The New National Aquarium at Plymouth opened to the public. 
  •  The Aquarium covers an area of 9000 square metres in the 
  • New Sutton Harbour area of Plymouth near the historic Barbican. 
  •  Contact:  Simon Bradley  Tel:  01752 600301 
          The display includes sharks, seahorses, and NE Atlantic marine fauna in a natural kelp 
          tank. The wave tank is unique to British Public Aquaria.            The old MBA Laboratory Aquarium on Citadel Hill is now 
          closed to the public. 
  • 4 -7 May 

  • A Slender-billed Curlew, Numenius tenuirostris is seen and photographed at
    Druridge Bay, Northumberland from 4-7 May 1998. This rare bird is a new addition to the British list.
    British Ornithologistsí Union News
  • 29 April: Hundreds of Harbour Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, are seen  off Sumburgh Head. There were so many that they filled the sea in all directions. 
  • 19 April.  The first Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae,  sighting of the year for the Shetland Isles is reported off Sumburgh Head with 6 White-sided Dolphins, Lagenorhynchus acutus.
  • 19 April. A bull Killer Whale, Orcinus orca, is seen off Haroldswick, Unst, Shetland Isles.
  • 19 April. A large Turbot, Psetta maxima, (large for the Eastern Channel) of 8.7 kg (19 lb 2 oz) was caught by Robert Squires from an angling boat off Southwick, Sussex. 
  • 15 April. A Tornado is caught on film off the coast of Fraserburgh, NE Scotland, as the rest of the country suffers a cold spell, with snow and temperatures in the whole of the UK down to freezing point at night. 
  • 15-20 April.
  • A half a dozen Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus, entered Scapa Flow, the large natural harbour in the Orkney Isles. They remained for at least five days, which up to 4 whales were seen at one time, blowing and with their large heads out of the water. 
  • They seemed to have left of their own accord.
  • Report by Chris Booth, Orkney Cetacean Recorder, Sea Watch Foundation "Soundings" journal.
  • Nelson, the one-eyed Grey Seal, Halichoerus grypus,  (reported 1997) continues to visit Looe Fish Quay, Cornwall. He is a very large slate grey bull, over 2 metres in length. The fishermen feed him their refuse from the catch. 
    2 April:  3 Bottle-nosed Dolphins,Tursiops truncatus, were seen by Chris Everson about three and a half miles south-west of Littlehampton, Sussex. Cetacean sightings are infrequent off the Sussex coast. They do not occur every year and dolphins have returned after an absence. 


  • 26 March:Michael Meacher announces that the Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, is one of 33 species receiving protection under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. The other marine species receiving full protection are:
  • Giant Goby, Gobius cobitis
  • Couch's Goby, Gobius couchii
  • Full List
  • Gobies Page
  • March 1998
  • Bogue,Boops boops, is landed at Brixham Fish Quay, Devon. 

  • 21 April 1998. Another one is caught off the Brixham side of Start Point, Devon.
  • 6 March:  A badly decomposed Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, over 11 metres long has been  washed ashore at Heylor, Ronas Voe, Shetland Isles. On 27 February an even larger Sperm Whale at 14.3 metres long, was washed ashore at the Ness of Caltagarth, Coppister, south Yell, Shetland Isles. This specimen was in a good condition and samples of the tissue were taken for analysis. 
  • Shetland News Web Site
  • 2 March:  A Striped Dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba, managed to strand itself on Grimister Beach, Whalefirth, Yell, in the Shetland Isles. The 2 metres long dolphin was still alive when beached, but died shortly after it was found. 
  • Mid-February:  A Thickback Sole, Microchirus variegatus, was part of the haul of a beam trawl off Guernsey. This species is not as rare as the fishes reported below but is not very well known because it is a fish that is much commoner is more southerly seas and usually lives below 30 metres. Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey).
  • February:  3 specimens of the Sea Horse, Hippocampus hippocampus,  were accidently caught in deep water, over 30 metres, off Jersey by lobster fishermen. These attractive small fish are regularly caught in small numbers during the winter. 
  • .8 February: 
  • Chris Gilbertson (Mevagissey Marine Aquarium, Cornwall) reported an unusual fish caught in a gill net set for Cod 5 miles off the south Cornish coast in 40 metres of water. It has been positively identified as a Maigre or Shadefish, Argyrosomus regius. It resembles a Bass in form with a pearly-silver coloration and it is estimated to weigh about 1.6 kg (3.5 lb), but is different in many respects including a salmon-coloured mouth, 9 rays on the first dorsal fin and distinctive large scales, with every fourth scale set at a different angle.
  • The Maigre is a member of the Drum family of fishes Sciaenidae. This must be a young fish as specimens of this species can reach 48 kg (100 lb) and may be even larger. It is a rare fish throughout its range in the Mediterranean Sea with records as far north as the English Channel extremely rare. Other names this fish may be known as include Shade-fish, Bar and Bubbler. It is reported to make a whirring noise as it swims. The common name seems unsuitable for this large predatory fish and is translated into English from the French as Meagre. Other names according to the Fishfinder Database are Jewfish, Croaker and Salmon Bass.
  • 7 February:Mackerel, Scomber scombrus, are being caught in commercial numbers off Brighton, Sussex. These fish are normally caught only in summer. Sussex fishermen believe that the warm water is the reason for their occurrence, although in the coldest month of the year the sea temperature was measured at 7oC which is about normal for February. Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden.
  • 31 January:  Jon Makeham discovered the unusual gastropod mollusc Lameillaria latens under a rock at low water on Hannafore Beach, Looe. These gastropods were covered by a mantle that felt leathery. Two specimens were discovered, one was brown, the other a carmine red. The species was identified by the internal shell.
  • January.  A Giant Goby, Gobius cobitis, was discovered by Jon Makeham at Hannafore Point, Looe, in southern Cornwall. It was found sheltering underneath a piece of Japweed, Sargassum muticum, on the middle shore. This large goby at 25 cm long, is at the northern edge of its range in the SW of Britain and is rarely found between the tides. Jon also discovered about 500 washed up Velella. This is a lesser number than in previous years. Most of the specimens varied in length from 40 to 60 mm.
  • The Giant Goby is now a Protected species.
  • January:  A large shark of over 5 metres long (16 ft) long was seen in Sandsound Voe on the western coast of the Shetland Isles attacking seals, which are attracted by the salmon in the cages. The shark was estimated to weigh 500 kg. The species was not identified. Species of shark in British seas that reach this size include the Greenland Shark, Somniosus microcephalus, which will attain lengths of over 6 metres and is known to attack seals on occasions. This shark is a northern species which is not often recorded off the coast of Scotland. Both Philip Vas and Len Nevell have suggested it could be a Six-gilled Shark, Hexanchus griseus.
  • 18 January: A large squid was spotted on the beach at Newburgh, north of Aberdeen, by an MSc student, Oscar Campbell. The weather was cold, with snow lying on the beach at low water. Oscar brought a tentacle club in to Aberdeen University we identified as belonging to an Architeuthis. The squid was found to be an immature female with a total length of 4.6 metres and mantle length (ML) of 1.2 m, it weighed 40 kg. 

  • Full Report (Aberdeen University)
    BMLSS Octopods
  • 16 January : An adult Ross's Gull, Rhodostethia rosea, was seen at the Shetland Catch Fish Factory, Lerwick. It is about the 14th record for Shetland this century. This a Shetland News Report, and more information can be found on their Web Site including a photograph of this Asian bird.
  • 12 January:  At the confluence of East and West Looe rivers, Jon Makeham discovered 200 dead Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax. This marine fish enters estuaries during the summer and shoals of small fish sometimes remain throughout the winter. The cause of the deaths is unknown. The largest fish were 50 cm in length.
  • 7-8 January. A powerful electronic storm and torrential rain hits the Sussex coast.    A tornado caused extensive damage at Selsey Bill and another one hit Calais on the French side of the English Channel.
  • 2-4 January: Gales batter the south and south-west of England.

British Marine Life Study Society
News 1997

Shetland Wildlife Records 1996
Shetland Wildlife Records 1997
Shetland Wildlife Records 1998
Shetland Wildlife Records 1999
Shetland Wildlife Records 2000
Shetland Wildlife Records 2001

Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1993
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1994
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1996
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1997
Cornish Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1998

Use these links if your are familiar with the scientific classifications of marine life
The BMLSS (England) site commenced on 1 January 1997.

Andy Horton

Andy Horton, Webmaster

Copyright  ©1997-98 British Marine Life Study Society

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