BMLSS (England) Index
BMLSS (Facebook)
Channel Islands
(BMLSS *** Site)
NEWS 2001

Norwegian Marine***
to Other Sites
(Click on Text)
Smart Group

How to Join
Application Form
Recommended Sites

NEWS 2000
Encyclopedia of Marine Life 
Articles in other Journals. Publications

Monthly Marine News Bulletin
Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database
 Cetacean List (NE Atlantic)

Snail Mail

World Oceans Day 2002


Butterfish (Photograph by Luke Richards)

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.

For optimum viewing read in 800 x 600 using medium fonts 
on Microsoft Internet Explorer (best) or Netscape

27 December 2002
Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, is spotted just before midday stranded on some rocks in Portland Harbour, Dorset. The coastguards were called and they managed to push the whale back into the water and it spent the rest of the day swimming around the large natural harbour, but it has yet to be coaxed back out to the open sea.  This species of whale is rarely seen in the shallower parts of the English Channel. 
BBC News Report
Corrected Report by Clive Martin (Biscay Dolphin Research Programme)
BMLSS Cetacea
Minke Whale stranded on the Isle of Wight in early 2003

26 December 2002
A group of ten (including one calf) Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, are spotted feeding at the entrance of Aberdeen harbour, north-east Scotland. 

22 December 2002
Oiled seabirds, mainly Guillemots, are being washed up in greater numbers than normal on the Kent coast. The RSPCA rehabilitation centre at Mallydams Wood near Hastings, East Sussex, has already dealt with over 400 birds, four times the usual number (which was 92 in 2001).
Report Number Tel: 08705 555 999 (RSPCA)

Report by the Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory via Kosnet
Full Report
BMLSS Oiled Birds Page

17 December 2002
Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV)
Between 11 December and 17 December there have been 47 dead seals reported around the UK bringing the total to 3682 since the beginning of the outbreak. The English deaths were down to 16 in the last week and are falling in Scottish seas after a sharp rise to 133 dead carcasses in the week ending 4 December 2002
It is the total number of dead seals reported, irrespective of what they died of and this recent rise of mortality in Scottish seals has probably got more to do with the Grey Seal pupping period than any extra spread of the virus.
Weekly Graph (epidemic started 14 August 2002)
PDV Update
Status Report 19

12 December 2002
Early in the morning a young eight metre long Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, entered the naval harbour of Frederikshavn on the northern Kattegat coast of Denmark. It remained in the harbour for the whole of the day and is believed to be feeding on the shoals of small fish seen. These whales are rarely seen around the mainland British Isles. 

Video Footage
Cornish Humpback
BMLSS Cetacea News

11 December 2002
Taking up this theme of the wildlife that surrounds us, but which is terra incognito to most of us amateur naturalists, Barry Collins (wildlife warden for Thorney Island) contributes an apt example from his observation of a marker post recently washed up on the Pilsey Sands in Chichester Harbour, Sussex. The section of the post which had for years been under water was covered with a thousand Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera, looking like silvery grey mussel shells around 5 cm (2 inches) long, each attached to the post by a long flexible brown stem which may be 20 cm (8 inches) long allowing the living crustacean to reach out into the surrounding water to feed.

NB: On previous occasions, local buoys thought to have provided habitats for Lepas have discovered top be buoys from much further afield, e.g. meteorological buoys from the Atlantic Ocean. 
BMLSS Barnacles

5 December 2002
In the last few weeks 640 oiled sea birds have been washed up on the East Anglian coasts of Suffolk and Norfolk. The source of the oil has not been discovered, but it is believed to have been released from an old wreck. 
BBC Television News Report
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency have made sent up spotter planes and received reports of slicks of oil on 19 and 21 November 2002, relatively small ones compared to a major disaster. 

                                     Report from Tony Child (Thanet Coast Project Officer) 
BMLSS Oil Spills Page

28 November 2002
Eight Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus,  were spotted swimming in the waters between East Holm and Burray in the Okney Isles, north Scotland. SSPCA Inspector Mike Lynch said that the whales were clearly visible from the Hurtiso area and he hoped that they would swim out to sea on their own accord.

Report by Nic Crocker, Bewan, Papa Westray Orkney
on Sea Watch Foundation News
Late November 2002
A Short-snouted Seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus, is captured by an oyster fisherman in the Solent. In Victorian times, there are records from off Dorset and the Solent.
Report by Ivor Rees
Earlier 2002 Report from off Dorset
    Boar Fish in my home aquarium (Photograph by Andy Horton)19 November 2002
    A dead Boar Fish, Capros aper, was brought into the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth for identification. The fishermen call them "Zulus" and used to catch them regularly, but they are now almost unknown in the local catches, but I am told that lots are caught by the beam trawlers fishing for Sole in deep water on the Parson's and Great Sole Banks about 120 miles SW of the Lizard, Cornwall.

    18 November 2002

    Photograph by Richard Lord (Copyright protected throughout the World)

                     Common Octopus 
                                Photograph  ©  by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

    Another large Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris, is captured alive off the Channel Islands and brought into Guernsey alive but failed to survive. This is the third one recorded since the beginning of October 2002

    Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
    Full Report
    Three Common Octopuses were also reported from Cornwall during the first weeks of November 2002.

    Velella (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)15 November 2002
    After the recent gales, further large numbers of freshly dead Velella are washed up on the Dorset (Studland) coast with over 50 counted in a stretch of strandline of 100 metres. The dead Velella were still coloured blue which showed that that they have only recently died. They disintegrate and turn white over night. There were live specimens at five miles off the Dorset coast. 

    Report by Steve Trewhella (Poole, Dorset)
    Velella 2002

    13 November 2002
    An exceptionally large Electric Ray, Torpedo nobiliana, 25 kg and almost a metre across was brought in alive at Plymouth and it found a home at the Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay. This ray is rarely seen in Public Aquaria, because of their danger and the difficulty in keeping them. Unfortunately, this specimen was damaged on capture and did not survive its ordeal.

    13 November 2002
    The oil tanker Prestige, carrying more than 70,000 tons of oil, suffered severe wave damage off the north coast of Spain, and began spilling heavy fuel oil into the sea. It was towed out to deeper water by the Spanish authorities where on 19 November 2002 sunk to the bottom of the sea carrying its cargo of oil with it to a depth of 3400 metres. The oil slicks were washed ashore in the intervening period and on into December. 
    By 5 December 2002 the amount of oil released into the surface areas of the sea and pushed inshore my the prevailing winds is estimated at 20,000 tonnes. The first slick that hit the shore was 6,000 tonnes and the second larger slick of 11,0000 tonnes arrived on the coast of Galicia (around Finisterre) in north-west Spain at the beginning of December.
    The fishing ban has been extended from Cedeira (northern Galicia) to Guardia (Miño river mouth). It is the outer estuaries that have suffered the most, but the rias of Arousa, Pontevedra and Vigo have been protected by efforts of the local fishermen. The nature reserve of Cies Islands, the most important in Galicia are highly polluted with the oil.
    Report from Spain
    Reports (Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group)
    BBC News Story
    BMLSS Oil Spills Page

    5 November 2002
    Collecting a few rocks for aquarium props in fading light on Lancing Beach, West Sussex, on a moonless evening under torchlight, I made my first discovery of the Arch-fronted Swimming Crab, Liocarcinus arcuatus, at low tide. This is the first BMLSS Report  from the shore. The identity of this crab has been confirmed by Dr. Reindert Nijland.

    This small specimen of this crab (carapace width 25 mm) had a heavy carpus on both chelae, a rough carapace in chocolate brown, swimming legs that were pointed, slower moving than Necora, with also are pronounced creamy white underside, and at dusk that was only its fractionally different movement that made it stand out from the Shore Crab. There were no "teeth" between the eyes, and the carapace was in a straight line between the eyes, with red antennae and antennules. 
    Full Report
    BMLSS Intertidal Crabs

    Boarfish from Hove (Photograph by Peter Weight)2 November 2002
    The capture on rod and line by Peter Weight of a Boar Fish, Capros aper, from Hove beach is the very first record of this fish caught from the shore off Sussex. The books say that this fish lives in depths of over 100 metres and as there are no seas of this depth on the English side of the English Channel. This pretty little red and silver rhomboidal fish about 55 mm long, excluding its caudal fin, large eye and large mouth, with a spiky first dorsal and vibrating second dorsal and second anal fins (vibrating like the dorsal fin of a pipefish). Although this fish is rarely caught, it is abundant in deepish water (on the edge of the continental shelf in the western approaches of the English Channel) and it is just that normal fishing methods do not capture this small fish. All records and especially all live records from the shore or on dives, and all Sussex records are newsworthy. 
    This fish is thriving in the BMLSS private aquarium (Shoreham-by-Sea). This fish is rarely on display in British Public Aquaria and the only known display of this fish was for several years at Mevagissey Harbour Aquarium
    This specimen appeared live on Meridian TV Southern News on 6 November 2002.
    On 10 November 2002, after a week in captivity, the Boar Fish commenced to feed on frozen brine shrimp after being initially encouraged with live daphnia. 
    Previous Sussex Record of a Boar Fish
    Previous Report from the Channel Islands
    BMLSS Boar Fish

    Late October 2002
    A Cornish fisherman reported netting a shoal of 10 stone (140 lb = 64 kg) of these small Boar Fish just 10 miles off the Isles of Scilly whilst fishing for squid. 

    30 October 2002
    A Mantis Shrimp, Rissoides desmaresti, was captured off Selsey Bill (Pullar Bank), West Sussex. The skipper of a registered fishing vessel operating from Selsey caught the shrimp in his lobster pots. This was only the second he had ever caught in over 20 years commercial fishing from Selsey. Robert Clark, Senior Fishery Officer with the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee, identified the shrimp to species level.

    Report by Tim Dapling (Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee)
    BMLSS Mantis Shrimps
    News 1999 Page (Mantis Shrimp Report)

    26 October 2002
    The Marine Conservation Society Annual Conference was held at the Royal Museum, Edinburgh.
    Diary: Further Details

    25 October 2002
    Fishing Monthly
    Scientists confirmed today that cod stocks in the North Sea, Irish Sea and waters West of Scotland are at their lowest recorded level and are in danger of collapse unless urgent action is taken.
    The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, wants closure of all cod fishing whether directed or by-catch in these areas.
    The North Sea cod restriction would also apply to the Eastern Channel and Skagerrak and is necessary in all the named areas because of very low stock size due to poor stock recruitment and high fishing mortality
    The scientists do not set a time limit on the draconian restrictions but say they should stay until there is "clear evidence" of the recovery of the stock to a size associated with a reasonable probability of good recruitment. [extracts]
    Full Report

    23 October 2002
    An organised whale watching boat trip off West Cork, Ireland, discovered the usual cloud of Gannets diving into the sea with three species of dolphins all feeding on the large fish shoals. 30+ Atlantic White-sided Dolphins Lagenorhynchus acutus, 20+ Common Dolphins  Delphinus delphis, and a small group of four or five Striped Dolphins, Stenella coeruleoalba.

    BMLSS Cetaceans

    24 October 2002
    Between 16 October and 22 October there have been 195 dead seals reported around the UK bringing the total to 2845 since the beginning of the Phocine Distemper Virus outbreak. 2451 of the seals have been found on the English coasts, with all but 24 of the above total discovered dead on the east coast. Confirmed cases are mostly Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, but also a few Grey Seals, Halichoerus grypus.
    Sea Mammal Research Unit
    Status Report 11 (with further details)
    BMLSS Seals

    11 October 2002
    A very large gastropod called the Triton Whelk (now usually called the Triton Shell), Charonia lampas (L.), was discovered in the mouth of the River Fowey, Cornwall, and put on display at Mevagissey Harbour Aquarium. This is a very rare find, and this large gastropod has only been recorded in British seas on a few occasions. It is a southerly species known from the Mediterranean Sea. It may have received assisted passage on the bottom of a boat?

    Previous Record from Cornwall

    October 2002
    Anglers Gareth Larry and Ryan Dalziel caught 20 Redfish (=Ocean Perch), Sebastes marinus, 40 miles north west of Muckle Flagg, Unst, northernmost island of the Shetland Isles, at a depth of 166 metres (91 fathoms) with Coalfish (=Saithe), Pollachius virens. The largest Redfish weighed 1.58 kg (3½ lb) and this will probably qualify as a new species rod and line record for Britain. The Redfish is a common fish of the Lophelia (deep water coral) beds like the Sula Ridge. However, it is a deep water species and in shallow water a similar species Sebastes viviparus, sometimes called the Norway Haddock is sometimes caught. 

    Report in Sea Angler (December 2002 issue)

    7 October 2002
    A Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus with a reported weight of 321 kg (708 lb) was caught off the north-west coast of Ireland by angler Martin O'Malley. Bluefin Tuna were also caught of the Galway coast and in Donegal Bay earlier in the year. At least 24 tuna were hooked off the Irish coast in 2002.

    Report in Sea Angler (December 2002 issue)
    BMLSS Tunnies

    6 October 2002
    Diogenes (Photograph by Paul Parsons)With Indian Summer summer preceding some of the highest and lowest equinoctial spring tides for over 20 years was too good a rockpooling chance to miss as low tide receded to Chart Datum about 6:00 pm, just before an attractive red sunset.
    The low tide on Lancing beach, West Sussex, revealed shallow pools and rocks covered in weed, and my very first discovery of the South-claw Hermit Crab, Diogenes pugilator, on the Sussex coast. 
    Full Report

    4 October 2002
    A Guernsey fisherman caught a large Common Octopus, Octopus vulgaris, in a crab pot about half a mile from Hanois Lighthouse off the south-western tip of Guernsey. The octopus had devoured at least two Edible Crabs and one Lobster. The fisherman estimated the total length at about 1.5 metres and the tentacle length at 1 metre.  He estimated the weight at 4.5 to 5.5 kg (10 to 12 lb).  He returned the octopus to the sea.
    Another Guernsey fisherman caught a large Octopus vulgaris in July 2002.

    BMLSS Octopuses

    3 October 2002
    The Geoneedle at Orcombe Point, Exmouth, was unveiled by Charles, Prince of Wales, to mark the western end of the Jurrassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. It is made from a sample of each of the different rock types along the Jurassic Coast.

    c. 1 October 2002
    Chris Bean caught a Marbled Electric Ray, Torpedo marmorata, somewhere off Helford River, Cornwall. This southern species is the rarer on the two species of electric ray in British seas.

    BMLSS Sharks & Rays


The Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Forum


Shetland Wildlife
News & Information on the Wildlife of Shetland

Cornish Wildlife
Vince Smith's Cornish Mailing List
Send a message to the list at:

Seaquest SW (Cornwall Wildlife Trust web pages)

Cornish Marine Wildlife Reports 1999 (by Ray Dennis)

British Marine Life Study Society
News 2000
News 1999

Use these links if your are familiar with the scientific classifications of marine life

The BMLSS (England) site commenced on 1 January 1997.

Shoreham-by-Sea Homepage Link

Andy Horton, Webmaster

Copyright 2002 © British Marine Life Study Society
British Marine Life Study Society Home Page
Main Links
Membership Form
News 2001
News 2000