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 - August - September

News 2016

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23 - 31 July 2016


17 September 2016

For the tenth time this year  the famous Killer Whale, Orcinus orca, named 'John Coe" was spotted by local fishermen, Gordon Mackinnon and Ritchie Simpson, off Canna and to the west of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Interestingly, all other confirmed reports of John Coe in 2016 have been of him alone, whereas Gordonís photos clearly show him with another male.
The West Coast Community of Killer Whales consists of four males and four females, and they are not known to interact with any other Orca populations in the north-east Atlantic.

15 -16 September 2016

Photographs by Craig Nisbet

A large cetacean was spotted struggling around the rocks at Tur Ness, Noss, in the Shetlands in the evening. British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) were alerted, but sadly a juvenile Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, was discovered belly up the following morning. It was estimated to be about 11 metres long as the dead body floated back and forth across Nesti Voe. 

15 September 2016
The small nudibranch Thordisa azmanii discovered by Bernard Picton in the Isles of Scilly was a first record of this southern species for the British Isles. It was on the sponge Raspailia ramosa and may have been eating it? 

A Blue Runner, Caranx chrysos, was caught on road and line on the boat "Emma Kate" fishing for Mackerel out of Padstow, Cornwall. This is a southern species of fish rarely (less than once a year) caught in British seas.  This shoaling fish is unusual north of Portugal. 

Blue Runner
Photograph by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

Another Blue Runner was landed at Brixham, south Devon, by Dave Brown from his small boat "Thankful". 

BMLSS Report 2001
Another Atlantic Blue Marlin, Makaira nigricans, was washed ashore dead, this time at Porthcurno Bay, on the south coast of Cornwall.  Previous Report 2016

14 September 2016

A Silver Dory (=Sailfin Dory), Zenopsis conchifer, was landed at Cawsand, Cornwall. This is a deepwater fish found in more southern seas are only rarely accidentally caught around the British Isles and even more rarely reported. BMLSS Sailfin Dory

4 September 2016

A most astonishing discovery of a tropical sea bird called the Red-footed Booby, Sula sula, was found on St. Leonards Beach, East Sussex. Gail Cohen found the underweight bird alive and the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) were called to rehabilitate the lost bird to RSPCA Mallydams Wood at Hastings.

This bird has not been seen in Britain before and it is still a mystery of how the bird arrived from its normal tropical home.

Killer Whales in West Out Skerries
Photographs by Ivan Reid

Photograph by John Swancott3 September 2016
An early morning walk on a windy Freshwater East Beach, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales, produced a surprise discovery of a dead Atlantic Blue Marlin, Makaira nigricans, in water shallow enough for a collie dog to try and haul the large fish inshore. Discoverers John and Helen Swancott estimated the fish to be 2.4 metres long. This extraordinary find was the first record for the UK. 

BMLSS Swordfish & Marlins

28 August 2016

Killer Whale and Calf
at Whalsay, Shetland
Photographs by Ivan Reid

A small pod of Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, comprised of two adults and three calves, visited the west coast of Whalsay, Shetland, and put on an extraordinary display in calm weather. 

Killer Whales at Whalsay (Gallery)
Shetland Orca News Report

Shetland Orca Sightings  facebook

August 2016
A huge 7.65 kg (17 lb) European Lobster, Homarus gammarus  (= H. vulgaris), was captured by free diver Joe Pike off Lannacombe Beach, south Devon. It was captured and taken to the National Aquarium at Plymouth for further captive study. It is the second largest European Lobster on record as a confirmed weight although from the size and weights of remains, even larger Lobsters could be extant.
19 August 2016
The asymmetric coloration of the baleen plates confirm that the baleen whale which stranded at Shankill in County Dublin, Ireland, was a juvenile female Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus

11 August 2016
Two divers at the Zeeland Bridge discovered a Sponge Crab, Dromia personata, for the very first time in murky seas off the Netherlands. The Wolkrab (Dutch name) takes its name from a brown-red, velvety hair. With its wide and high rising carapace and with powerful claws, it makes a strong impression. The bare ends of the claws (chelae) are sometimes coloured like pink nail polish and contrast sharply with the rest of the body. It is a southern species with its northerly point of distribution previously in the seas off Belgium and the Thames estuary where it is uncommon. It rear legs can hold a sponge in place for camouflage. 

5 August 2016

"John Coe" Killer Whale off the Hebrides
Photograph by Basking Shark Scotland

The famous Killer Whale, Orcinus orca, named 'John Coe" was spotted off the Hebrides. It is the largest bull Orca in the few remaining members of the 'Hebridean Community' of Killer Whales (or Western Community): a community living of the western seas of Ireland and Scotland. It is rarely seen but was spotted off Ireland on 27 June 2016.
John Coe (Irish Sightings Map)

1 August 2016
A Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, was spotted by Lee Watson, (a volunteer with British Divers Marine Life Rescue, BDMLR),  "lunge feeding" (swimming through a shoal of small fish with its huge mouth wide open), bursting through the surface of the water off Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, east coast of Scotland. . 

31 July 2016
Anglers caught a huge Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, estimated from measurements to weigh 167 kg (368 lb), from a boat off the coast of Cornwall.

BMLSS Thresher Sharks

29 July 2016

About fifty Basking Sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, including an aggregation of thirty sharks, were seen off Scotland, between Coll and Tiree in the Inner Hebrides

July 2016
For a majestic month the residents of the Shetland Isles enjoyed views of several (maybe four) pods of the Northern Isles Community of Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, roaming up and down the rocky coasts of the archipelago, mainly seen from the east shores of Mainland, but nowhere were they predictable, seen coming close inshore under the cliffs and seen feeding on shoals of fish, ducks, seals and a Porpoise.

Shetland Wildlife  Orca Gallery

27 July 2016
A pod of Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, were spotted attacking a Porpoise 100 metres off Rerwick, South Shetland.

26 July 2016
A pod of Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, including two mothers with their calves, were seen very close inshore off Levenwick, on the east side of South Mainland, Shetland.

24 July 2016

Orca in Shallow Water
Photographs by Anne Rose (with Kristian Cooper)
Click on the image for the video

We encountered this small pod of Killer Whales, Orcinus orca,  at the end of our paddle around Fethaland, North Roe, Shetland.

Report by Anne Rose on Visit Scotland

A group of over 20 Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, were spotted swimming NSE of North Roe in the Shetlands (North Mainland) by Hans Verdaat during the Small Cetacean Abundance in European Atlantic and North Sea - Aerial Survey (July 2016: SCANS-III team IV). 

There appears to be at least three pods, possibly four, seen this year around the Shetland Isles. These seem to all be part of the Northern Isles Community. Some watchers were lucky that the Orcas came close in to the rocky shores actively hunting for seals.

More Images on Shetland Orca Sightings
Scottish Orca ID List
Sea Watch Shetland Sightings News

A pod of five White-beaked Dolphins, Lagenorhyncus albirostris, were seen bow-riding with a yacht four miles off Downderry in south Cornwall. This species is the more unusual off the smaller cetaceans only occasionally reported during the summer in the English Channel off Cornwall. 

Video Report by Rachael Ince 
on Sea Watch facebook
Sea Watch Sightings (SW)

21 July 2016

Killer Whale
Photographs by Craig Nisbet

A  pod of Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, swam close inshore at Gulberwick in the Shetlands (map) (east of the Mainland) and killed two Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, with visible blood on the surface. There were three more seals that managed to avoid predation by hiding behind rocks while the female Orcas swam by repeatedly trying to figure out how to get at them. A truly epic experience!

Click on the picture for the video.

17 July 2016
A two metres long Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen and photographed five miles off Cornwall. 

BMLSS Turtles

10 July 2016

Young Stranded Sperm Whale 
Photograph by Nicholas Pugliese

A young Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, washed ashore alive at the Penhale end of Perranporth beach, north Cornwall. At 13 metres long,  this female youngster was lying on its side when discovered on the falling afternoon spring tide and because she was out of the water for so long she will have internal injuries and, even if the rescuers could refloat the stricken whale, it would be unlikely she would survive. The whale stopped breathing and died on the sandy beach in the afternoon. 

"Globally, segregation exists between male and female sperm whales, including in North Atlantic populations, with the matriarchal pods containing females normally resident in temperate to tropical waters much further south of the British Isles, whereas males generally travel in more temperate waters. We have historically only ever had juvenile/subadult male sperm whale strandings in the UK and this is the first confirmed female sperm whale to be recorded stranded in the UK, since routine collection of strandings data by the Natural History Museum began in 1913, illustrating the unusual nature of this stranding event. This was also only the sixth sperm whale to be recorded stranded in Cornwall in this same 100+ year period."

BMLSS Cetacea: Index to Reports

Killer Whales
Photograph by Jodie Sutherland

A pod of seven or eight Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, was spotted swimming through Mousa Sound, (east coast South Mainland) of the Shetland Isles. The pod appeared to have included a young Orca. But the one with a floppy fin was not seen. 

More Images (by Mary Stevenson)

9 July 2016

Two Killer Whales, north Minch, Shetland Isles
heading south past the Bard towards Mousa
Photographs by Ryan Leith

Northern Isles Community that moves between Iceland and Scotland to hunt and raise young.

One of the Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, has a floppy dorsal fin (flopped towards the right). An Orca with a same sided floppy fin was seen last year
However, this may not be the same whale as at least two with floppy fins have been reported in the same community. The Iceland whale watchers have discovered four with floppy fins. 
Floppy Fin Report by Vivian Clark

Shetland Orca Sightings  facebook

Shetland Killer Whales
(by Hugh Harrop)

Click on the image for larger photographs

4 July 2016
A huge Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, and Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, have been photographed breaching and landing back in into the sea with an enormous splash off the north east coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. 

BMLSS Cetacea

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