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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Winter 2013 News Reports, January - March
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Link to the News Reports, October to December 2013





Loggerhead Turtle (Photograph by Andrew Cole)17 December 2013
A sub-adult Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was washed ashore dead at Splash Point, Worthing, Sussex in the afternoon. It was a rainy day and I cycled past this point west of the amusement pier, I noted a flock of twenty Crows on the shingle but I did not look down on the syenite rock sea defences or else I might have spotted it. Credit for the discovery goes to Andrew Cole who was photographing a landscape shot of the rocks in poor photographic conditions. This may be the first discovery of a Loggerhead Turtle off Sussex as it was unexpected and I have not got records of a previous discovery. The turtle was damaged with a missing flipper and it had died out at sea and had been washed along until landfall on to this small promontory.

5 - 6 December 2013
A Storm Surge coinciding with a high spring tide caused floods and coastal erosion on the North Sea coast of England and some minor floods on the eastern English Channel shore. The environmental impact on wildlife seemed to be minimal but there were social consequences with homes flooded and some houses washed into the sea, notably at Hemsby, Norfolk, where the the soft cliffs collapsed. The elevated sea level was higher than the devastating floods of 1953 but the damage was much less because of improved sea defences and advanced warning

Environmental Agency Flood Damage Gallery
Cyclone Xaver

2 November 2013
A metre long Siberian Sturgeon, Acipenser baerii, was caught on rod and line by Peter Johnson off Greenhithe Pier in the River Thames estuary. It is was released back into the sea after capture. This species is native to the Ob river systems that flow into the Arctic Ocean, in Siberia. In its native habitat it is condered anadromous and able to migrate the sea and live in salt or brackish water. but it is mostly to be found in the freshwater reaches of these large rivers. Therefore, it has been found suitable for aquaculture and the pet trade and the most likely reason for its appearance is that was accidentally or deliberately released from a captive specimen. 

Photograph by Peter Johnson
BMLSS Sturgeon 1

20 October 2013
A deep water Greenland Shark, Somniosusmicrocephalus, was found freshly dead stranded at Embleton Bay in Northumberland. The three metres long female shark was recovered by staff of Newcastle University and held frozen at their Dove Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats. The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) retrieved the shark whilst carrying out demonstration necropsies for undergraduates at Newcastle University and transported it to the Natural History Museum in London, who have (Autumn 2014) completed preparing the shark as a specimen for the national collectionThis large species of shark (> 7 metres & 1,400 kg) is usually found at depths of 1000 metres in the Arctic and boreal Atlantic and is both rarely recorded around the British Isles and relatively little is known of its biology and bionomics. 

23 August 2013
A Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, swam up the River Tyne and was caught in salmon nets close to South Tyneside. The oceanic fish measured 1.2 metres (4 ft) long from the tip of its sword to its tail. 

The Swordfish is an extremely rare visitor to the seas around the British Isles with records of less than one a year. The Atlantic population is endangered by overfishing. 

Previous Report 2009
BMLSS Swordfish

2 August 2013
An Atlantic Sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus, was caught on rod and line off Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire. It was about a metre long. 

Report by Ann Bunker on Porcupine NHS on  facebook
I query the identification of this fish and this may be an escaped captive Sturgeon of another species.

The Atlantic Sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus, was thought to be extirpated throughout its European range including the Baltic Sea and now only found on the American side of the Atlantic where it is Near Threatened
IUCN Red Listing

The European Sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, is now extremely rare throughout its range. The only remaining breeding population is in the River Gironde (France)

European Sturgeon (CNPMEM)
Life story information and status of the European Sturgeon
Previous Report 2004
BMLSS Sturgeon 1
BMLSS Sturgeon 2
IUCN Red Listing

Marbled Rock Crab, Pachygrapsus marmoratus
Photograph by Sion Roberts

28 July 2013
This appears to be the first record of this immigrant alien crab on the Welsh shore and only the fourth record around the British Isles. 
The Marbled Rock Crab is native to the shores of Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and parts of the Atlantic Ocean.It probably arrived in ballast water as larva or attached to a boat or ship as an adult. 
GB Non-native Species Secretariat

July 2013
A huge Atlantic Halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, was caught by Marco Liebenow in northern Norway. It weighed 233 kg (515 lb) and measured 260 cm in length. 

BMLSS Halibut

3 July 2013

Unidentified Sea Anemone
Photograph by Dawn Watson

This unusual burrowing sea anemone was discovered with its 20 mm span of tentacles showing above the substrate of gravel and silt at a depth of about seven metres at Martins Haven, Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales. It was a lone 18 tentacled specimen amongst a mixture of Peachia cylindrica Burrowing Anemones and Daisy Anemones, Cereus pedunculatus. When disturbed this unrecognised anemone retracted very quickly and disappeared completely from view. The majority identification opinion was a burrowing anemone of the genus Edwardsia

8 June 2013
Adur World Oceans Day

Adur was one of the UK leaders in presenting the thirteenth environmental exhibition of World Oceans Day on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea. Len Nevell of the British Marine Life Study Society presented the usual exhibition of lobsters and crabs. The Friends of Shoreham Beach (FOSB) took an active role with their display of the wonders of Shoreham Beach. Wildlife writer Steve Savage presented the whale and dolphin exhibition with the life sized replica of a Bottle-nosed Dolphin. Nikki Hills on behalf of the Sussex Wildlife Trust produced an interactive display on the sea and seashore for the younger age group. David and Marion Wood produced a presentation about Widewater Lagoon (brackish lagoon) LNR. Exhibitors were able to find the time to answer questions about marine life.
Other participants included Southwick Camera Club with an exhibition of seascapes and marine life, and Colin Knight and Mark Colvin with a butterfly presentation on the behalf of the Sussex branch of the Butterfly Conservation Society.
World Oceans Day on Facebook
United Nations: World Oceans Day

May 2013
Scientists discovered the earliest evidence of hominid footprints, Homo antecessor, outside of Africa, in sediment, partially covered by beach sand, at low tide on the foreshore at  Happisburgh, on the Norfolk coast. The footprints are more than 800,000 years old (early Pleistocene) and they are direct evidence of the earliest known hominids in northern Europe. 

12, 14 & 28 May 2013
Three Beaked Whales (Ziphiidae) have been washed up dead on the Irish coast, the first one an adult female Beaked Whale live stranded and died at Five Fingers Strand, Malin, County Donegal and two days later a juvenile Beaked Whale, which had also live stranded, was found at Trawbreaga Bay, Malin. Both of these are thought to have been the vagrant True's Beaked Whales, Mesolpodon mirus, (awaiting confirmation from DNA test) and were removed to Athlone for post mortem. A five metre long female stranded at Aillebrack, Ballyconneely, County Galway, at the end of the month. All three whales might have been stranded as a result of a single incident as this deep ocean toothed whale is rarely seen in British seas and the only records are from the west coast of Ireland.  BMLSS Cetaceans

9 May 2013
A 4.5 metre long Sowerby’s Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens, has been reported dead, stranded alive at Clarach Bay near Aberystwyth in west Wales. A  Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme UK (CSIP) team from Marine Environmental Monitoring recovered the body and a CSIP team from Zoological Society of London travelled to the stranding location to conduct a post-mortem examination.

UK Strandings (CSIP)
CSIP Strandings Leaflet
BMLSS Cetaceans

25 April 2013
A large and unusually large pod of 14 Sperm Whales, Physeter catodon, were spotted off the Firth of Forth, heading from the island of Fidra to the Lamb, just a mile offshore at North Berwick in East Lothian. The whales then changed direction, heading towards Crail in Fife. The Sperm Whales were seen by microlight flyers and also spotted by Scottish Natural Heritage staff and researchers on the Isle of May who were able to identify the whales from their distinctive tail flukes, dorsal fins and plumes of spray.

24 April 2013
A Yellowmouth Drumfish or Shadefish, Argyrosomus regius, was discovered in Looe Fish Market (south Cornwall) and was caught in a trawl south-west of Eddystone Lighthouse. This southern fish is a rare occurrence in British seas with only three records since 1998. The fish was 54 cm long (TL) and weighed 1.35 kg. 

Yellowmouth Drumfish or Shadefish, Argyrosomus regius
Photograph by by Clive Palfrey

The book name Meagre or Maigre was a transcription mistake in an old book and I have discontinued its vernacular use. This large fish is identified by its yellow mouth
The Yellowmouth Drumfish, also called the Shade-fish, may still be common off the African Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Adult fish can attain a length of 1.9 metres and weights of 48 kg (100 lb). It is also a fine sporting fish and extremely good eating. Because, it is reported to inhabit shallow seas, it may have been over-fished off the European coast centuries ago.

Report by on MarLIN  facebook
BMLSS Drumfish

9 April 2013
A new fish has been added to the British list with the extraordinary discovery of the deepwater and little known Jellynose Fish (family: Ateleopodidae) Ijimaia loppei caught in the Western Approaches to the English Channel. 

Jellynose Fish
Photograph by Andrew Rowe

Jellynoses are deep-water, bottom-dwelling, marine fish. They are known from the Caribbean Sea, eastern Atlantic, the western and central Indopacific and the Pacific coast of Central America.
Jellynoses (Wikipedia)

23 March 2013 - 3 April 2013 et seq
A Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, made an appearance at at TBS Salmon farm in Basta Voe, in Yell in the Shetland Isles. This Arctic seal is a rare visitor to even the most northernmost Scottish islands.

Bearded Seal
Photographs by James Simison
Click on the bottom images for a set of six photographs

3 March 2013
A Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus, was spotted hauled out at Brides Ness, North Ronaldsay, the most northern of the Orkney Islands. It's thought to likely be a male due to the pinkish nodules on the neck and shoulders. The animal does not appear to have sustained any injury and could just be not used to encountering humans; probably why we got so close. The Walrus is an Arctic sea mammal and is only very rarely seen in the seas surrounding the British Isles. It feeds mostly on molluscs

Report and Photograph by Gavin Woodbridge  (BBC Radio Orkney) on facebook
with Fleur Warren and Mark Twitch Warren

"The sandy sea bed around North Ronaldsay has food for him too, they will take Spoots, Ensis, but are especially fond of Blunt Gaper, Mya truncata, and there's plenty around there." 

Comments by Martin Gray
North Ronaldsay Bird Sightings
Walrus Report from Ireland in 1999
BMLSS Seals and other Pinnipeds

25/26 February 2013
At the meeting of the European Commission Agriculture and Fisheries Council the decision was made to make a decisive stance on the important matter of fishery discards. Ministers said a ban on "discards" should be phased in, starting in January 2014 for pelagic fish, and for white fish stocks from January 2016. There was agreement in principle but there were complicated management procedures to discuss and implement. 

EU Fishing Rules

6 February 2013
The European Parliament voted for ambitious reforms of the controversial EU Common Fisheries Policy in order the protect the fish stocks. 

30 January 2013 >
A sea bird wreck occurred along the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and further away off Devon and Cornwall.  Hundreds of birds have been washed ashore in a poor condition because they were coated in an oily waxy substance. Most of the hundreds of bird victims were Guillemots, Uria aalge, who dive under the water far out to sea. 

Plymouth University have identified the sticky substance as a form of polyisobutene (PIB), which was used as a lubricating additive in oils to improve performance. It is slow to biodegrade and difficult to remove from the affected birds which will die without treatment. Many of the birds were washed ashore already dead. 

History of the Spillage

23 January 2013
Very large Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua, have been caught off the Sussex coast. A notable specimen fish landed by Dominic Camilleri of the South Coast Angling Club, based at Shoreham Harbour, weighed in at 18.5 kg (40 lb 12 oz). The English Channel is not usually noted for its Cod.

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