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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 more reports click on the seasonal buttons below:

News Reports: January-March 2005 News Reports: April-June 2005 News Reports: July - September 2005 News Reports: October - December 2005

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    5 November 2005
    Marine Conservation Society Conference
    Exeter University
    9:30 am to 5:00 pm

    The Marine Conservation Society's Annual Conference has a special focus on climate change - one of the greatest impacts on our world's oceans today.


    29 October 2005

    Colin Naman caught a a Derbio, Trachinotus ovatus, amongst a school of Garfish, Belone belone, in Portland Harbour. This fish was released back into the sea and swam away unharmed. It is one the jacks classified in the family Carangidae. It is a southern fish which is moderately common in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean but rarely encountered in British seas where it is usually associated with surface feeding shoals of fish.

    October 2005
    Four Broad-billed Swordfishes, Xiphias gladius, (34 kg, 45 kg, 100 kg, 124 kg) were caught in nets set to catch Cod in shallow water (3 -5 metres depth) in Southern Öresund, south west Sweden. Another one was captured earlier, in September
    Photograph provided by Kent Andersson The 34 kg Broad-billed Swordfish captured by the Swedish professional fisherman Gert Larsson.

    Swordfishes are an oceanic fish supporting a small fishery in the stormy mid-Atlantic Ocean. They are rarely found inshore and records of this fish from around the British coast are very rare. 

    BMLSS Swordfish

    6 September 2005
    About thirty White-beaked Dolphins, Lagenorhyncus albirostris, were seen off the coast of Norfolk, off the end of the Nelson Head Track, just south of Horsey Gap on the east coast. Conditions were perfect, it was mirror calm and good light first thing in the morning. The pod was actively fishing in association with 4+ Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, and a flock of Gannets about 1000 metres offshore and appeared very settled in the area. I watched them for one hour before I moved off. This represents a good record of this species so far south in the North Sea.

    BMLSS Cetaceans

    17 August 2005
    Six Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalis, (including one juvenile), two Minke Whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata, and sixty Common DolphinsDelphinus delphis, were seen feeding 11 nautical miles west of Ramsey Island, during a Sea Watch Foundation survey.

    Report by Hanna Nuutila (Sea Watch Foundation)
    15 August 2005
    A large superpod of over one thousand Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, were seen off the south-west coast of Wales. The location is reported off the Pembrokeshire coast but the exact distance from the shore is not mentioned. The video film footage is by Chris Benson of the Sea Trust (the marine branch of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales) is from Cardigan Bay. 

    13 - 21 August 2005 

    Sea Watch Foundation
    National Whale and Dolphin Watch Event

    The National Whale and Dolphin Watch week is an opportunity to gain a 'snapshot' view of the status and distributions of the many whales, dolphins and porpoises around the British Isles - and it relies on the support of thousands of men, women and children, looking out to sea and telling us what they have seen.

    Contact: Stephen Savage

    11 July 2005
    A Flying Fish was caught off the south Devon coast by the Brixham based beam trawler, M.F.V. Magdalena and landed on the fish market. The flying fish is probably Cheilopogon heterurus, the Atlantic Flying Fish.
    Full Report (Link)

    28 June - July 2005
    An algal bloom of the planktonic dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoihas developed in the Atlantic Ocean and been blown inshore and around the coasts and into the loughs of north-west Ireland. This microscopic organism is present in such huge numbers that underwater the sea actually looks green and the visibility is reduced to a few metres. It releases toxic substances called gymnocins into the sea and compounded by the deoxygenation caused by the dying plankton, the overall result has been a mass mortality of the sessile and slow moving organisms like starfish, sea urchins, benthic (bottom-dwelling) animals, scallops and other molluscs, worms and even sea anemones. In the enclosed loughs the effects are even worse, with flatfish and rock pool fish succumbing the effect of the toxins and anoxic conditions. Dead creatures litter the sea bed providing food for any crabs that have survived. 
    Priapulid in Killary Bay (Photograph by Rohan Holt)
    Thy fusus (Photograph by Rohan Holt)

    Dead Animals in Killary Bay
    The first is a sipunculid Golfingia vulgaris* and the second a sea cucumber, Thy fusus, that have succumbed to the effects of the algal bloom.
    (* ID by Richard Lord)

    Fish farms have been located in some of the loughs and their stock of molluscs and fish can be killed by these naturally occurring algal blooms. 

    Original Report and Photographs by Rohan Holt
    Marine Institute Web Site Report

    28 June 2005
    After a noticeable absence of Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, in the outer southern Moray Firth (NE Scotland) in 2004, we are pleased to report that the animals have returned to their usual feeding haunts once again in 2005. At least two were definitely observed, and there were certainly more in poor weather conditions. 
    Subsequent Report

    A group of a dozen Sperm Whales, Physeter catodon, including a calf, were spotted between Bressay and Noss in the Shetland Isles (island off the east mainland). From a vantage point overlooking Noss Sound, we were rewarded by the sight of a group of Sperm Whales gently drifting eastwards at a distance of about two miles. Visibility was fairly good and we could determine the distinctive outline and classic blow through the scope, though they were a long way out when viewed through binoculars. Despite the variety of whales and dolphins around the Shetland Isles, Sperm Whales are unusual in the relatively shallow water for these huge sea mammals. A group is very rare and the calf may be the first record for the Shetlands. 

    BMLSS Cetacea (Whales & Dolphins)
    BMLSS Cetacean News Index 2005

    26 June 2005
    A Small-scaled Scorpionfish, Scorpaena porcus, was discovered in a fishing catch caught off Cornwall and brought into Plymouth. This venomous fish usually lives in the Mediterranean. This appears to be only the second UK record of the rarer of the two venomous Scorpaena from European warmer seas. 
    Previous Report in 1998

    A shark landed at Plymouth dockside was a 118 cm (TL) female Bluntnosed Six-gilled Shark, Hexanchus griseus, caught on longline due west of Cornwall (50°N 8°W).
    More Information on Six-Gilled Sharks (by Len Nevell) 

    4 June 2005. 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Adur World Oceans Day
    Venue: Coronation Green, New Shoreham
    Adur Festival Event
    Andy Horton with the Lobster in the tank (Photograph by Ray Hamblett) Clouds collect over Adur World Oceans Day 2005 on Coronation Green, Shoreham, keeping visitors inside the marquee out of the near gale force winds (Photograph by Ray Hamblett)

    Despite the overcast day and the near gales that battered the marquee, Adur World Oceans Day 2005 was a success with live animal displays of lobsters, crabs, aquarium displays of sandy shore and rocky shore fauna, the simulated rock pool, marine life photographs (all by the British Marine Life Study Society), the dolphin exhibit (Sea Watch Foundation and helpers), the Sussex Coastal Watch Project (Dee Christensen), strandline touch tables (West Sussex County Council Rural Strategy Unit), vegetated shingle of Shoreham Beach and Widewater Lagoon (Dave and Marion Wood) and the table of the Sussex Ornithological Society (Audrey Wende, with the photograph of the Gull-billed Tern in company of a Black-headed Gull, taken by Stanley Allen of the Shoreham & District Ornithological Society.)
    Katherine and Hanna presented a simulated rock pool (Photograph by Ray Hamblett) Simulated Rock Pool at Adur World Oceans Day 2005

    The attendance was greater than last year as well and there was a continual stream of visitors for six hours. 
    Adur World Oceans Day 2005 Picture Portfolio (by Ray Hamblett)
    More Images

    British Marine Life Study Society: Len Nevell helped by Marc Abraham (Priory 
    Emergency Treatment Service, PETS), Andy Horton, Peter Talbot-Elsden, Ray, Jan and Katherine Hamblett and Hannah Luff.
    Sea Watch Foundation: Steve Savage and his daughter Amber, with helpers including Marc Baldwin (independent).
    WSCC Rural Strategy Unit: John Knight and Kathy Eels.
    Administration assistance: Natalie Brahma-Pearl (Adur District Council and Adur Festival), Neil Mitchell (WSCC Rural Strategy Unit), David Steadman (Shoreham Town Partnership).

    30 April 2005 to 3 May 2005
    A Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, was seen at Easter Quarff (north of Cunningsburgh), Mainland, Shetland Isles.

    Image (by John Coutts)

    NB: Bearded Seals are a non-migratory Arctic species that feed on molluscs including clams. There has now been at least a dozen records from the Shetland Isles and one record of this seal off Ireland and one off Hartlepool in north-east England. 
    BMLSS Bearded Seal page
    BMLSS Seals

    12 April 2005
    At 9.00 am a stranded Blainville's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon densirostris, was discovered and subsequently identified at Ameland, part of the Dutch Wadden Islands by Chris Smeenk and colleagues. The animal was a female 435 cm long and she turned out to be pregnant, a 118 cm foetus was retrieved from the uterus. This record represents the first for the North Sea and only the 8th record for Europe. 

    Full story and images on the ORCA website
    BMLSS Cetacea (Whales & Dolphins)
    BMLSS Cetacean News Index 2005

    1 April 2005 for 2-3 weeks
    A Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, was resident in the Ouse, Finstown, Orkney for 2-3 weeks from the beginning of April. It came as a great surprise to me when I was informed by a dog walker on the Ouse that she had come across an unusual seal asleep on the shoreline. On investigation I identified the seal as a juvenile female Bearded Seal.

    Photograph by Ross Flett (Orkney Seal Rescue)

    Bearded Seals are normally found all along the European, Asiatic and North American coasts of the Arctic Ocean. Its food consists entirely of bottom-living animals including shrimps, crabs, clams, whelks and bottom fish such as flounder. It is a very unusual seal to be found in the waters of Orkney.

    BMLSS Bearded Seal page
    BMLSS Seals

    12 March 2005
    Stan Breban, a scallop fisherman brought me a Knobbed Triton, Charonia lampas, which he caught in his scallop dredge somewhere in the Little Russel to the east of Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

    Knobbed Triton    Richard Lord

    The whole animal weighed 541 grams (drained) and had a total shell length of 16.5 cm. It had a shell width of 10.5 cm and a shell height of 7.5 cm. This large gastropod mollusc is expected to find a home in Guernsey Public Aquarium at St. Peter Port

    Report and Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
    on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
    BMLSS Molluscs

    4 February 2005
    A seven metre long whale was cut free after becoming tangled in a crab pot rope and buoy. It was first spotted in Penrhyn Bay off the north Wales coast. It swam free with the buoy still attached until the RSPCA chased after it and caught it up off Llandudno where the encumberment was cut free. The origin of the ropes and buoy was from off County Donegal, north-west Ireland. The species of the large whale was not identified but it seems most likely from the poor quality photograph and other reports to be a Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae. Irish Whale & Dolphin Group Report
    BMLSS Cetacea (Whales & Dolphins)
    BMLSS Strandings Telephone Numbers
    National Whale Stranding Recording Scheme

    Late January 2005

    Skate Egg Capsules from the Orkney Isles
    Photograph © by Richard Land

    These large egg cases were washed up on the shores of the Orkney Isles, north of mainland Scotland.
    The large size of these egg cases means they are almost certainly the egg cases of the endangered Skate, Dipturus batis. Over a hundred egg cases were washed up.
    Full Report
    Egg Capsules of Rays & Sharks (Link to the Web Pages)
    BMLSS Mermaid's Purses

    13 January 2005
    Hundreds of Sea Cucumbers were amongst the wreck of animal remains discovered on the Dinas Dinlle beach west of Llanwrog (south-west of Caernarfon), north-west Wales. 
    Sea Cucumber (Photograph by Paul Jasper)
    Mermaid's Purse (Photograph by Paul Jasper) with Sea Cucumber (very small next to it)

    They were scattered all over the strandline and shore with other remains including the common Mermaid's Purses (egg cases of the Dogfish) and the decaying carcass of a dead Seal. Sea Cucumbers are an unusual echinoderm washed up between the tides. 

    Report and Photographs by Paul Jasper
    Another Sea Cucumber report (in Diver magazine)
    BMLSS Strandline
    BMLSS Echinodermata

    The sea cucumber looks like Thyone fusus can be found as far north as Norway grows up to 20 cm.

    Comparative Image

    9 January 2005
    Velella (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)A post storm check of Thurlestone (south Devon) beach for stranded cetaceans or oiled birds revealed my first ever UK sittings of by the Jack-by-the-Wind-Sailors, Velella velella, several hundred, some as just the chitinous float and sail. I have never noticed them before in Britain but I saw millions on beaches in SW Corsica last May. No sign of the predatory Violet Sea Snails, Janthina sp., often (rarely in the UK) associated with this creature or tropical seeds but three species of Cuttlefish were present in reasonable numbers.
    Lots of Large (Turban) Topshell, Gibbula magus, and Necklace (Moon) Shells Polinices sp. were washed up on Slapton Sands, Devon.

    Previous Reports
    BMLSS Jellyfish
    BMLSS Beachcombing

    2 January 2005
    A juvenile Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, was discovered on a remote north Cornish beach at Gwithian, near Hayle. This is unusual as it is usually Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, that are washed up, often killed in fishing nets with a total of 220 recorded in 2004. 
    In this case it seemed to be heavily scarred with fresh "rake marks", wounds inflicted by the sharp teeth of one or more other dolphins, which may have attacked the individual. This behaviour has been seen in Bottle-nosed Dolphins off America.
    It is not known why they occasionally attack one another but fatalities appear to be
    confined to fights between males. If the post-mortem confirms that this was the case, it will be the first recorded incident of its kind in the UK.
    Link to Photographs

    Full Report
    Cornish Wildlife Trust News
    BBC News: Dolphins attack Porpoises
    BMLSS Cetacea

    1 January 2005
    A Sunfish, Mola mola, was washed up on the beach at West Runton, near Sheringham, north Norfolk. 
    Sunfish (Photograph by Rupert Smith) Sunfish (Photograph by Rupert Smith)

    Although this fish is frequently seen off the south and western coasts of Britain during the summer and autumn, sightings and strandings in the North Sea are much less common.

    Report and Photographs by Rupert Smith
    BMLSS Sunfish


May 2004

Marine fish & invertebrates
of Northern Europe
Frank Emil Moen & Erling Svensen

In May 2004 the English edition of the very popular Norwegian Marine Fauna (Dyreliv I havet) was published. Prof. David Bellamy has written the foreword. 

Click on the image for more information.

Link to the News page for Spring 2003
Link to Autumn 2003 News Page


National Biodiversity Gateway

The Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Forum


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