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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July - September 2013

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For more reports click on the seasonal buttons below: 

Winter 2013 News Reports, January - March
Spring 2013 News Reports (Links)
Link to the News Reports, October to December 2013




26 September 2013
A three metres long 234 kg (515 lb) Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus was landed caught and landed at Tarbert, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. 

25 September 2013
A large pod of Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus were spotted off the coast of Donegal, Ireland. There have been numerous reports of big fish jumping out of the water. One was caught by an angler and brought into Mullaghmore, County Sligo. This specimen weighed a massive 285 kg (628 lb).

The Western Atlantic stock of Bluefin Tuna is on the Red List as critically endangered. It is illegal to catch and land this species of fish in the UK. (It was landed in Ireland.) 

19 September 2013
A rarely caught Skipjack Tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis (=Euthynnus), in English seas was accidentally stranded on a Devon beach near Budleigh Salterton. Leo Curtis and friend Ian Carrott had been fishing on the beach when they spotted the 60 cm long fish in 15 cm of water in the River Otter estuary. Skipjack are the smallest and most common of all the tunnies but they are native to tropical seas. This is the first record on the BMLSS News Pages.

"There have been angling catches of the south-west coast of Ireland and stranding reports on Scottish western island shores in the past."

BMLSS Tunnies

18 September 2013
A rare female Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens, a mother with its calf, has died after it got into difficulty, on the remote shores of Hirta island in the St Kilda archipelago. Rescuers managed to refloat the five metre long whale, but it later died. The calf found open water but it is unlikely to survive without its mother. This oceanic whale is rarely seen in British seas and strandings only occur in the extreme west near deep water. 

14 September 2013
Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis, suffered a horrible death after it was washed up alive on the sandy beach at at Waterfoot Pier, north-east County Antrim, south-east of Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. It was about nine metres in length so that indicated a sub-adult. 

Beached Sei Whale
Photographs & Report by Cathal McNaughton

Colour is spot on for a Sei Whale, dark leaden grey; fin had a very pale right side to the throat and this pattern is asymmetrical as is the colour of the baleen which looks evenly coloured here; the erect and 'shark-like' dorsal fin is classic, the Fin Whale tends to be much more swept back and streamlined looking. 

BMLSS Cetaceans

13 September 2013
Leatherback Turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, have been spotted off the south Cornish coast, notably a reported two metre long specimen in Falmouth Bay

Cornish Leatherback Turtles

The Leatherback Turtle is the largest of the turtles (Chelonii). Adults can attain over 1.8 metres (6 ft) in length and 680 kg (1,500 lb) in weight, but they are usually smaller. Leatherback Turtles breed on sandy beaches in the tropics but they are great travellers and can be found in the temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world where they feed almost exclusively on jellyfishes and gelatinous zooplankton (salps, hydrozoans etc.) captured with delicate scissor-like teeth. They can also accidentally consume floating plastic bags which will probably result in their death. Unlike other turtles its carapace is not a hard shell (exoskeleton), but is covered by a layer of rubbery skin strengthened by bony bits which makes it look leathery. The turtle discovered in Falmouth Bay probably swam across the Atlantic Ocean from a breeding site in Florida or elsewhere in the Caribbean
The IUCN classifies the Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, on the Red List as critically endangered.
IUCN Red Listing
BMLSS Turtle Reports

12 September 2013
Three True’s Beaked Whales, Mesolpodon mirus, were spotted around 100 km off the southwest coast of Ireland.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has said photographs taken during a research expedition to the Porcupine Seabight area showed that they were almost certainly this rarely recorded species classified as a vagrant oceanic whale around the British Isles. Sighting records of this whale are only from off the west coast of Ireland and the Scottish islands. A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was also spotted on the of the eastern edge of the Porcupine Bight, which includes the Belgica Mound Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for deep water corals.

BMLSS Cetaceans

Early September 2013
A most extraordinary report of a Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis, was caught on rod and line off Dover Breakwater, Kent. This is an unusual report because this is a coastal anadromous fish native to the east American coast. 

Introductions of Morone saxatilis

5 - 6 September 2013
A Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, stranded alive on Torry Bay, near Crombie Point, Fife, in the Firth of Forth. The rescue attempts to save the four metre long juvenile whale were unsuccessful and the whale was euthanised. 

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. 

They are often called a Broad-billed Swordfish, but there is only one species in the world.  They are found throughout the tropical and temperate waters of the world but appear to prefer sea temperatures of 18°C to 22°C, migrating to cooler waters to feed in the summer.  These oceanic fish chase herring, salmon and mackerel and are among the fastest fish reaching 90 km.h-1 (56 mph). 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 now in the River Gironde (France). In the past the Sturgeon was widespread in the estuaries of the major rivers of northern Europe including the Rhine, Elbe, and the River Severn
The IUCN classifies the European Sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, on the Red List as critically endangered. It is a protected species listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats), and its trade is restricted under CITES Appendix II
It is completely protected in Europe as it is listed in Habitats, Fauna and Flora (Appendices II and IV) of the Bern Convention. 
European Sturgeon (CNPMEM)
Life story information and status of the European Sturgeon
Previous Report 2004
BMLSS Sturgeon 1
BMLSS Sturgeon 2
IUCN Red Listing

30 July 2013
A 'super-pod' of at least five hundred White-sided Dolphins, Lagenorhyncus acutus, was seen heading north along the west coast of Unst, Shetland Isles, late in the morning.

Report by Brydon Thomason on Nature in Shetland  facebook
BMLSS Cetaceans

29 July 2013
A 13.5 metres long Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, was stranded alive on Terschelling, a northern island in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, despite rescue attempts the young adult died on the vast expanse of sand on the shore.

28 July 2013

Medusa, Jellyfish and Comb-jellies
Gallery by Penny Martin
on NE Atlantic Cnidaria  facebook

Click on montage for more images

A cove near to Yesnaby, Orkney Isles, hosted hundred of thousands of Jellyfish, Hydromedusa (Crystal Jellies), Comb-jellies and long strings of Salps

More Images and Links
Reports on Snorkel Orkney  facebook
Photograph Gallery by Penny Martin

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

Late July 2013
Five newly born calves of the Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus, with their parents, were spotted off the Calf of Man, Isle of Man

18 July 2013
A large streamlined Shortfin Mako Shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, was hooked by Andy Griffith 30 miles off Milford Haven, SW Wales. This dangerous shark leapt three metres into the air off the stern of the boat before Andy with the help of his crew mates managed to land the two metres long shark after a fight lasting 40 minutes. Great care was taken to ensure the safety of angler and crew as large specimens of this shark have been identified in fatal attacks on humans. The 90 kg shark was landed and then released. This is the first record off the Welsh coast. 
(NB: this fish is very similar to the more often encountered Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus. The ID is usually confirmed by the teeth.

BMLSS Sharks
BMLSS Shark News

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

12 July 2013
A pod of fifteen (14 adults and one juvenile) Risso’s Dolphins, Grampus griseus, was an unprecedented sighting in such large numbers one mile off the coast of the Isle of Man. The pod, which consisted of several large males, was spotted near The Sound off the south coast by scientists on a boat of the Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW).  These large dolphins are a deeper water species that are rarely seen and can be identified by scarring on their bodies.

BBC Cetaceans
Whales & Dolphins in British Seas (by Steve Savage)

4 July 2013
The Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, was still showing off at Yell in the Shetland Isles.

First Report

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


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