Marine Life News Bulletin

November 2009

ISSN  1464-8156

On-line connection to the British Marine Life Study Society web pages
Index for the Torpedo News Bulletins
Link to the forum for marine wildlife of the NE Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas
Link to the News web pages for 2009
GATEWAY:  Further European Links
New EMail address
Courses (Marine Life)
Discussion Groups
Link to the Fishbase web pages
Marine Information Service
(Marine Life Information Network)
World Register of Marine Species
National Biodiversity Gateway
National Biodiversity Network
World Oceans Day
Link to Ray Dennis's Cornish Marine Life Reports for 2008
Link to Sealord Photography
Link to an on-line page for younger students of the seashore. Spider Crab and youngsters at Adur World Oceans Day 2002 (Photograph by Duncan Morrison)
7-14 years

Norwegian Marine***

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Silver Dolphin Centre, Helston, Cornwall

Link to the Porcupine Society web pages

Marine Life Society
South Australia ***

De Strandwerkgemeenschap

Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
Marine Wildlife Reserve



Monthly electronic news bulletin for the marine life of the NE Atlantic Oceans including the seas and seashore around the British Isles.
The bulletin is designed for Microsoft Explorer 4 and above using medium fonts at a resolution of 800 x 600 and can be viewed satisfactorily at a resolution of 1024 x 768.
Subscribe and unsubscribe options are at the foot of this page.
If you receive this bulletin as an EMail subscriber, you may find the best way to view the file is on your hard disc in your directory of Incoming EMails.


Reports of marine wildlife from all around the British Isles, with pollution incidents and conservation initiatives as they affect the flora and fauna of the NE Atlantic Ocean

28 October 2009
Commercial crab and lobster fisherman Clive Brown found what looked like a block of wood covered in Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera, floating off the south coast of Guernsey. When he retrieved the bulky mass of Goose Barnacles he found they were covering a piece of communication equipment

The image shows the equipment after 20 kg of the Goose Barnacles had been removed. Four Columbus Crabs, Planes minutus, were also discovered. 

Sealord Photography
BMLSS Barnacles
Channel Islands Web Sites

22 October 2009
About 5:00 pm on the shore of Barry Island beach, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, a chap spotted a fin sticking out of the water and hauled in a dead Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, watched by a swarm of congregating gulls. The last British report was also washed up on Barry Island in July 2008
Report and Photograph by Jim Nettleton

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 and mackerel and are among the fastest fish reaching 90 km.h-1 (56 mph). This is in part due to their being warm-blooded, which allows not only their muscles but also their brain and eyes to work more efficiently.

BMLSS Swordfish
BMLSS Beachcombing

4 October 2009
A Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, was captured in trawl nets in the River Forth at Alloa, eastern Scotland, by fisherman Brian Hynd. The three metre long Swordfish had a sword of a metre in length. 

Report in the Alloa Advertiser
BMLSS Swordfish

22 September 2009
A Cornish Blackfish, Schedophilus medusophagus, was caught in in a pelagic trawl about five miles west of the Mull of Galloway (south-west Scotland) and was weighed in at Portaferry (Northern Ireland) at 3.5 kg gutted weight. The vessel which caught the fish was the FV. Ambitious, skipper/owner Eric Cully.

Cornish Blackfish (Photograph by Alan Mawhinney)

Cornish Blackfish
Photograph by Alan Mawhinney

This was an unusual capture of a widespread mesopelagic fish, found on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean but it is normally found at depths greater than 200 metres so it is not caught in nets for the usual commercial species. This sub-tropical fish is also found in the Mediterranean Sea

Notes by Andy Horton

Schedophilus medusophagus is a relatively common bathypelagic species off the west coast of Ireland. I have seen several of them landed with Blue Whiting, Micromesistius poutassou, in Killybegs, Donegal. 

Identification & Comments by Declan Quigley
Previous Report


Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Mailing Groups

Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean 
Yahoo Group
New Group:

With the closure of Smart Groups at the end of November 2006 most of the 7500+ messages have been filed at:

Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Jiglu

However, in November 2009, all these messages were deleted without warning. Sorry. This was out of my control. 

Images can be uploaded to flickr.

Wet Thumb (Marine Aquariology) Forum Link


All reports by Andy Horton unless the credits are given 
to other observers or reporters.

Cornish Marine Wildlife (Ray Dennis Records) 2008


Each month, at least one special marine image will be published from images sent to the BMLSS. This can be of the seashore, undersea world or any aspect of the marine natural world, especially the underwater life, but not restricted to life beneath the waves. Topical inclusions may be included instead of the most meritorious, and images will be limited to the NE Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas, marine and seashore species and land and seascapes.

Puffins on the Isle of May

The Isle of May is a National Nature Reserve in the Firth of Forth on the east coast of Scotland. During the height of the breeding season, over 200,000 seabirds of twelve species nest on the island, including Puffins, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots, Shags, Terns and Eider Ducks.  There are 68,000 pairs of Puffins on the Isle of May compared with only 10,000 in 1982 and less than ten in 1959. Researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which has been monitoring the island's puffins since 1972, recorded a drop from 69,300 pairs in 2003 to 41,000 pairs in April 2008.

Boat trips are from Anstruther.

RSPB Isle of May (John Bulpitt FRPS)
Puffin Decline
Marine Protected Areas Mapper (UKMPA)

Photograph and Comments by Niall Corbet
with further research by Andy Horton

The shallow water around the Isle of May is dominated by Kelp Forests, Laminaria hyperborea. The algal grazer, the Edible Urchin, Echinus esculentus, was prevalent in the Kelp zone which extended to the greatest depths of 13 metres on the east coast of the island. Cnidarians were varied and prevalent especially the common species the Dahlia Anemone, Urticina felina, and the smaller Sagartia elegans. Wrasse were the most common fish seen: the Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta, and Goldsinny, Centrolabrus rupestris

Seasearch Isle of May Reports
Dive Sites: Isle of May



Shore Topography Series

The name of the particular coast should be included and the grid reference, if known. Print photographs can be included in Exhibitions and on the BMLSS Web Sites and electronic publications. Electronic images in *.jpg format can also be considered for the web site. They should not exceed 250K in size.

Sea Stacks on the Isle of May

Photograph by Niall Corbet

The Isle of May is located in the north of the outer Firth of Forth, approximately 8 km (5 miles) off the coast of mainland Scotland. It is just 1.8 km long and less than half a kilometre wide. The island is owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage as a National Nature Reserve.

The rocks on the Isle of May are a "fine grained basalt of a dark-grey colour with tinges of green and Greenstone" (Source: Wikipedia). The island is treeless and rugged. 
NB: I think the stacks are most likely to be of sedimentary rocks like Carboniferous Limestone. The geology of the island is varied. 

Scottish Geology: Midland Valley
Scottish Sea Stacks (Suite 101)
Isle of May: Historical Perspective

A stack is a geological landform consisting of a steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast. Stacks are formed when part of a headland is eroded by hydraulic action*, which is the force of the sea or water crashing against the rock. The force of the water weakens cracks in the headland, causing them to later collapse, forming free-standing stacks and even a small island. Stacks can provide important nesting locations for seabirds, and many are popular for rock climbing.

*Rainwater may also be contributory.

Sea Stacks (Wikipedia)

Isle of May Geograph

The Isle of May supports a breeding colony of Grey Seals, Halichoerus grypus. The site is the largest east coast breeding colony of grey seals in Scotland and the fourth largest breeding colony in the UK, contributing approximately 4.5% of annual UK pup production.
JNCC Special Areas of Conservation Allocation
Establishment of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas (MEHRAs)


British Coastal Topography

First enquiry by EMail to

New EMail address


Photographers submitting pictures should indicate if they wish them to be considered for inclusion as confirming permission takes work and time and can delay publication of the news bulletins. 

Link to more marine life photographs

Click on the album for more links (On-line link)




In chronological order, the most recent events are at the top of the page. Events open to the public, free or for a nominal charge only are included. Most Seminars need to be booked in advance.


BIOSIS  Conference Calendar for Zoology

(Major Link of all biological conferences around the world)


 Public Aquaria List
?  What to do if you find a stranded whale or dolphin  ?

If you find a LIVE stranded or injured whale or dolphin on the beach you must send for help QUICKLY. A whale or dolphin stranding is an emergency and the speed of response by a professional rescue team is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining whether or not an animal can be returned to the sea alive.

0300 1234 999
0300 1234 999
0131 339 0111
0845 201 2626
01534 724331
00 44 1481 257261

01825  765546





Kimmeridge Tidings (Autumn 2009)

Up to date with all the latest happenings at our Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve in Kimmeridge.

by Peter Stiles
Publisher: Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

Philip Henry Gosse was a popular naturalist who moved to Victorian Ilfracombe and wrote his natural science book ‘A Naturalist’s Rambles on the Devonshire Coast’. He later designed the first public aquarium, which opened in London. His activities also attracted other naturalists, including Charles Darwin and novelist George Eliot.

This book celebrates the link between Philip Henry Gosse and his rockpool adventures in Devon and contains lots of information about the life of this self-taught Victorian scientist and writer.

in conjunction with an Exhibition that finished on 25 April 2009.

Marine Fisheries Science Yearbook  2008/2009

Publisher:  defra

href="">To obtain a copy from the defra web site, click on this text

Sharks in British Seas

Richard Peirce
138 pages, colour illustrations, line drawings, colour & b/w photos.
Lots of newspaper reports.

Publisher:  Shark Cornwall
Softcover | 2008 | £9.99

ISBN: 978-0-955869402 

by Lucy Beckett-Bowman

Consultant: Andy Horton
Usborne Publishing   £3.99

Usborne Beginners Series
Level One (very young children)

ISBN 978-0-7460-8864-7

BMLSS Notes for a Primary School Teacher

Whales & Dolphins
of the European Atlantic
The Bay of Biscay, English Channel, Celtic Sea and coastal SW Ireland
by Dylan Walker and Graeme Cresswell
with the illustrations by Robert Still
WILDGuides  2008
£ 12.00 (includes standard UK P&P)
ISBN:  978-1-903657-31-7

This is the second fully revised and updated edition of this comprehensive guide to the identification of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) in the European Atlantic. Until very recently, most researchers and whale-watchers were unaware of the great variety of cetaceans that can be seen so close to the shores of western Europe. Indeed, it is only during the last decade, when detailed cetacean surveys have been carried out in earnest, that we have discovered how important this area is for cetacean biodiversity.

This field guide describes all of the 31 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise that have occurred in the European Atlantic. 

BMLSS Cetacean Book Reviews

The Gulf Stream
by Bruno Voituriez
Publisher:  UNESCO 
ISBN:  92-3-103995-4 
222 pages, figures, glossary, bibliography

The Gulf Stream
Amid contemporary scenarios of potential climatic catastrophes and global warming that might be imagined to bring a new ice age, the powerful image of the Gulf Stream rising from the Florida Straits and flowing to the north Atlantic inevitably provokes questions about its ecological significance and whether it might ever stop.

Coastal Plankton
Photo Guide for European Seas

by Otto Larink & Wilfried Westheide
reviewed by Wim van Egmond
(Collins New Naturalist) (Paperback)
by Peter Hayward
Collins 2004

ISBN:  0-00-220031-7

Amazon Web Site

Paperback. Pp 288. Colour & b/w photographs, illustrations, charts, maps and bibliography. Fine copy. "New Naturalist" Seashore is a comprehensive, authoritative account of the natural history of the seashore.

BMLSS General Guides
BMLSS Advanced Guides


Working to reduce Marine Pollution and to help the birds caught in it
Quarterly Newsletter
Registered Charity  803473


Decision-making in Marine Mammal
Rescue and Rehabilitation

Eastern English Channel Habitat Atlas for Marine Resource Management
is available for download from

Encyclopaedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland

Marine Fauna of Norway

WET THUMB (Marine Aquariology)

BMLSS: Marine Life Articles in Publications (Link)

The British Marine Life Study Society are responsible for producing the journal GLAUCUS, which is the first publication exploring the marine life of the seas surrounding the British Isles available to the general public. In future, I expect the publication to be in an electronic format. 
    We also publish the SHOREWATCH Newsletter and
    the TORPEDO Electronic News Bulletin.

    The Glaucus 2002 CD-ROM was sent out to Premier BMLSS members in January 2003.

EMail Address

New EMail addressEMail address for messages to the British Marine Life Study Society 


Membership 2009
Plans have not yet been finalised for the publications and subscriptions for year 2009. Back copies of previous issues are still available. 

Bulletin Details

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Printing the two column version of Torpedo (from issue 28)

These pages are not designed for the default settings on the Page Set-ups of your browser. I recommend viewing in Microscope Internet Explorer 7 and altering the right and left hand columns in the Page Set-up menu to 9 mm (from 19 mm).
The page set-up can also be amended in Netscape Composer and other web page editors, and this has the advantage of enabling the specified number of pages to be printed and the information about the file (name, path, date) to be deleted.

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Torpedo compiled by Andy Horton
Background design by Andy Horton and other contributors

    27  November 2009

Compiled on Netscape Composer 4.7 and other programs
Boar Fish, Capros aperLen NevellMarc AbrahamJohn KnightUrchin fossil (out of scale) dating the pebbles at 85 million years oldMermaid's PursesPeter Talbot-ElsdenCharlie DimmickAndy HortonSamanthaThe crab was called Rooney because of its missing leg. Nobody asked about the brain cells of a crab?