Marine Life News Bulletin

August 2012

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
Marine Life News 2012
GATEWAY:  Further European Links
New EMail address
Link to the British Marine Life Study Society Facebook page
Courses (Marine Life)
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 2009
Link to Sealord Photography
Link to the Aphoto pages

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
Link to Jim Anderson's Scottish Nudibranch (and other sea slugs) web pages

7-14 years
Oakley Intertidal 
on facebook
Fish & Sharks of the 
NE Atlantic
New Photographic Gallery 
on flickr
Link to the Sealife Survey on facebook (Marine Biological Assoc. of the Uk.)
Link to Coastal Topography on flickr



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 Internet Explorer using medium fonts at a resolution of 1024 x 768.
Subscribe and unsubscribe options are at the foot of this page.


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


15 -16 August 2012
A young Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens, was washed up alive but in distress at Aust near the First Severn Crossing. The 2.7 metre long beaked whale calf became beached at about 10:00 pm and was euthanised by a vet at about 3:30 pm on the second day. 
"The beaked whale calf should have been with its mother. If we had managed to refloat the animal it would have starved to death because its mother wasn't anywhere near and the likelihood of them finding each other was limited," said the vet Elspeth Hardie.
Beaked Whales are an elusive deep water whales which are rarely seen around the British Isles. 

14 August 2012
An 18 metre long Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, swam into Baltimore Harbour, County Cork, early in the  morning and stayed virtually motionless at the bottom of the pier all day. Fishermen tried to coax the huge mammal back into open water without success. As crowds of people arrived to watch, experts realised that the whale must be ill to behave in such a strange manner.
Pádraig Whooley (IWDG) said "the whale’s behaviour suggested it was very unwell and would almost certainly die. If this was a healthy whale she could probably reverse out of harbour. It looks somewhat emaciated, and thrashing throughout the night has caused some injuries." 
The whale died in the harbour on 15 August 2012 Irish Whale & Dolphin Group (IWDG)
IWDG Facebook Discussion
Whales & Dolphins in British Seas

Fin Whale blowing, trapped in Baltimore Harbour
Photograph by Keith Kingston

13 August 2012
An unusual report was received of a tropical Smalltooth Sandtiger Shark, Odontaspis ferox*, washed up on the southern coast the English Channel (la Manche) and found alive on the sandy shore at Agon-Coutainville on the Cherbourg Peninsula (west coast). (So extraordinary was this report that I did not include it until the identity of the fish could be verified.) The 2.5 metre long shark, weighing in excess of 200 kg was pushed back into the sea and was not recovered for identification. 
(*probable ID only, not verified.) 
Discussion on the Marine Wildlife of the NE Yahoo Group

Smalltooth Sandtiger Sharks have been caught at widely scattered locations throughout the world, indicating a possibly circumtropical distribution. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it is known from the Bay of Biscay south to Morocco, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Azores, and the Canary Islands.
BMLSS Sharks

Fin Whale & Boy (Photograph by Robin Leath)

Fin Whale floundering in the surf at Carlyon Bay
Photograph by Robin Leath

 The photograph was taken at a vantage point some 250 metres from the Fin Whale and about 20 metres above it. The whale was still alive at the time of this shot, but floundering heavily and probably suffocating under its own immense weight in the surf along the Carlyon bay beach, Cornwall.

A badly injured fully grown 19 metre long Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, was washed ashore at Carlyon Bay on the south coast of Cornwall two miles east of St. Austell. The live whale was is such a poor condition that it had to be euthanised

BMLSS Cetacea
IUCN Red List Entry of a threatened species

Early August 2012
When Mitchell Burkes (from Godstone, Surrey) was walking along the beach at Ventnor near the southern tip of the Isle of Wight, he spotted at injured Tuna washed up on the beach still alive.
"I returned it to the water and it seemed to recover, however about an hour later it beached itself again. On inspection it appeared to have tooth marks near the head and I guess it must have been hit by a Dolphin or Porpoise. When gutting the fish, it contained a small undigested Mackerel, which indicates it was in good health when hit and
weighed 6½ lb (2.95 kg). I have had the fish identified as a Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares not native to the waters around the Island."
NB: The image (not copyright cleared) looks more like a Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus, to me. The second dorsal fin was small and not elongate and the pectoral fin is short as well. Small specimens of this Tuna have been reported occasionally in Mackerel shoals from the English Channel over the years. AH.

Letter to the Isle of Wight County Press 10 August 2012
Information provided by Luke Richards
BMLSS Tunnnies

4 August 2012
In living memory the Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, was if not a regular sighting off the Sussex coast, it would be remarkable because of its exceptionally long caudal fin. Now, a Thresher Shark is a newsworthy event caught by a boat angler out of the notable shark fishing centre of Looe, south Cornwall. The shark was landed and released. 
Three species of Thresher Shark have been declared to be "vulnerable", according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) 
IUCN Red List of a threatened species

 Link to an Image of a Thresher Shark (jumping out of the water) from Cardigan Bay, Wales
Why Thresher Sharks have huge caudal fins (BBC)
BMLSS Sharks
July 2012
Field magazine for August 2012 has featured Lobsters and one on beach Shrimping as well. Available in branches of WH Smith and larger newsagents on the shelf from the end of July 2012. Recommended light reading. £4.20.

24 July 2012
A large 400 tonne cliff fall occurred at Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset; unfortunately killing and burying a young woman walking underneath. The soft crumbly cliffs have a predilection for landslides after periods of heavy rain.  Geology of the Wessex Coast

Photographs by Graham Wiffen Photography

Cliff Fall at Burton Bradstock
Photographs by Graham Wiffen
Graham Wiffen Photography

Link to Graham Wiffen Seascapes

Graham Wiffen Seascapes

23 July 2012

A juvenile Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, was observed swimming in very shallow water (swimming amongst bathers!) at the coastal town of De Panne (Belgium). It’s length was estimated at around two metres, and it could be identified through the photographs provided by deputy-chief lifeguard Filip Jongbloet.

Photograph by Nic Faulks15 July 2012
An Arctic Rigid Cushion Star, Hippasteria phrygiana, was spotted on a dive off the Northumberland coast in the proposed Marine Conservation Zone between Coquet and St Mary’s. This northern species is one of only two records off an English coast. It usually inhabits the seas off Greenland and all over the northern Atlantic although it it is present in the seas around the Shetland Isles and it has been trawled off St. Abbs further north on the same North Sea coast. This cushion star was around 10 cm across and was recorded at 20 metres depth on a cobble/pebble seabed. 

Marine Conservation Zone Project Interactive Map
BMLSS Echinoderms

4 July 2012
Several fisherman have reported seeing a dead and decaying Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, about a metre and a half long to the east of the island of Herm in the Channel Islands. There are no records of a live individual of this species has ever been reported from the Channel Islands area. Occasional turtles have been seen before though. 

BMLSS Turtles


Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Mailing Groups

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

Link to the British Marine Life Study Society Facebook pageBritish Marine Life Study Society
facebook Page:

This Wall is now working properly and members can now post on it. This is designed for quick less important chatty news items. Photographs can be uploaded quickly which is only possible on the Yahoo Group by going to the web page. 

Images can be uploaded to flickr.

Wet Thumb (Marine Aquariology) Forum Link
Lots of marine wildlife reports from Shetland on facebook
Photographs include undersea, sea mammals and birds. 
Click on the image to connect


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

Cornish Marine Wildlife (Ray Dennis Records) 2009


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.

SCARLET AND GOLD STAR CORAL - Balanophyllia regia
from the Isles of Scilly

Photographs by David Kipling

Click on the images for the original photographs

This attractive solitary coral is often found buried in silt where its beauty is partially obscured


It needs an attachment rock and it is not only found in silt. In this photographic study by Fiona Crouch, the solitary coral is on an exposed rock around Sark in the Channel Islands.  Do not be confused by the large photographs this coral has a tentacle span of up to 25 mm only. It is a rare find intertidally and rather locally (south-west only) found down to a depth of 25 metres. 
Shore Thing Survey (MarLIN)

"I had been spending a summer at Ilfracombe ............. It was a spring-tide in September 1852, and the water had receded lower than I had seen it since I had been at the place.  I was searching among the extremely rugged rocks that run out from the Tunnels, forming walls and pinnacles of dangerous abruptness, with deep, almost inaccessible cavities between.  Into one of these, at the very verge of the water, I managed to scramble down; and found round a corner a sort of oblong basin, about ten feel long, in which the water remained, a tide-pool of three feet deep in the middle ..........  I had examined a good many things, of which the only novelty was the pretty narrow fronds of Flustra chartacea in some abundance, and was just about to come out, when by eye rested on what I at once saw to be a Madrepore, but of an unusual colour, a most refulgent orange .." 

Balanophyllia regia was discovered by P.H. Gosse in 1852.  The above extract, from Gosse's Actinologia britannica gives a graphic account of the first discovery.

Actinologia britannica
: A history of the British sea-anemones and corals by Philip Henry Gosse

Unlike its near relative Caryophyllia smithi, Balanophyllia regia cannot completely withdraw into its 'cup' and the vivid orange coloration is permanently on display. It can, however, withdraw its tentacles and readily does so if left in a still pool at low tide.  This coral should not be confused with the similiar Sunset Cup Coral, Leptopsammia pruvoti.

One specimen I found was actually lying at the bottom of a small pool in Ilfracombe harbour, completely unattached to anything. 

Comments by Ron Barrett © 1997

Balanophyllia regia on MarLIN

Notes by CM Yonge

A History of the British Sea-anemones and Corals, with coloured figures of their species and principal varieties, Gosse, P. H., London, 1860 onflickr

BMLSS Cnidaria

Cnidaria of the NE Atlantic on facebook

Click on the images for the original photographs


Shorewatch Biological Recording


Shore Topography Series

The name of the particular coast should be included and any other interesting information including 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 350K in size.

A classic high water rockpool at Combe Martin, 
near Ilfracombe, north Devon
Photograph by Karen Price

The coastline between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin is backed by lofty cliffs and etched with many sheltered covers and bays.  From Ilfracombe, the coastline stretches for over 6 km to Combe Martin, a smaller village in a setting of sea, cliff and valley.  There is a striking contrast between the irregularity of rocky shores, sandy stretches and all the intergrading types of shore along this coastline, presenting a rich variety of environments for a varied assembly of flora and fauna.(Aenthe Cooke). 

This area is famous for rockpooling because it was visited and written about by the Victorian naturalist P.H. Gosse who introduced the wonders of the seashore to the public. 

Ilfracombe to Combe Martin (BMLSS page)

Seaside Years of PH Gosse

Victorian Marine Biology Book List & Links

Click on the above button to link to an interesting web site on seashore life, aquariums, old books etc.

Do you happen to know Ilfracombe? It is a little quiet seaport in the north of Devon, rather out of the world in these railway days, and therefore less known than its attractions deserve 
(PH Gosse, Sea-side pleasure: sketches in the neighbourhood of Ilfracombe, 1861).
PS: the railway went to Ilfracombe between 1874 and 1970
Project - Devon's History and Heritage Online Pilot Study - Ilfracombe

Collecting Days of Philip (P H) Gosse at Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe Aquarium
BMLSS Public Aquaria List

Combe Martin Beach

Click on the images for the original photographs

British Coastal Topography

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.

10 August 2012

Rockpooling Event at the Old Fort organised by the Friends of Shoreham Beach (FOSB)

Over 150 rockpoolers descended down on  to the safe beach at Old Fort, Shoreham Beach at low tide and they were able to forage in the pools for over two hours. The critters of the seashore never had a chance to escape the flimsy nets and probing fingers of the youngsters. Fish fry swam in the shallow pools, notably scores of the young of the Two-spotted Goby, Gobiusculus flavescens. Many of the captures were decamped to temporary aquariums further of the beach and returned to the pools before the incoming tide. Other notable captures included a juvenile Greater Pipefish, Syngnathus acus, looking like a thin strip of seaweed until it wriggled, juvenile flatfish including two small Plaice, Pleuronectes platessa, with more escaping the nets, the first intertidal Solenette (Slipper Sole), Buglossidium luteum, and the expected mixture of Bass fry, Dicentrarchus labrax, small prawns and shrimps, tiny Bullheads, Taurulus bubalis, Shore Crabs, Carcinus maenas, of all sizes and colours and the common intertidal molluscs

FOSB Events
BMLSS Rockpooling

Link to the Porcupine Society web pages
For details of the Porcupine Marine Nature History Society meetings click on the link on the left


 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

Would you know what to do if you found a whale stranded on a beach?

Each year anywhere between five and 50 whales, dolphins and porpoises are washed up on Britain's beaches.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue, a volunteer charity, was set up in 1998 to rescue them.

BBC News Report

01825  765546







Series: Collins Complete Guide
Collins Complete Guide to British Coastal Wildlife
Paul Sterry and Andrew Cleave
384 pages, approximately 1600 colour photos
Harper Collins

List price is £17.99   Offers available

Popular Guide Books (Link)


This is a book about an ocean that vanished six million years ago: the ocean of Tethys, named after a Greek sea nymph.  The oceans are important to climate and environment, and therefore to life on Earth. The story of Tethys is also a story of extinctions, and floods, and extraordinary episodes such as the virtual drying up of the Mediterranean, before being filled again by a dramatic cascade of water over the straits of Gibraltar. 

Dorrik Stow
300 pages, 15 b/w illustrations and maps.
Oxford University Press
ISBN-13: 9780199214297

A Field Guide to Marine Fishes of Wales and Adjacent Waters

by Paul Kay & Frances Dipper 
£19.95 incl. p&p
Soft cover

With 256 pages and numerous photographs supported by drawings, this book is the most comprehensive photographic guide to marine fish currently available in the UK. Published for the Marine Conservation Society with support from the Countryside Council for Wales. 

Click on the image to order this book through the Marine Conservation Society


July 2010

PS: A second revised edition of the book has been published. 


Publisher: Graffeg
Publisher's Review (click on this text)
Review by the City and County of Swansea

This is the book I should have written (and I dare say a few others as well) and is a much needed introduction to the world of the seashore and the hobby of rockpooling. It is a photographic guide to most of the common species encountered which is much appreciated as newcomers and even experienced rockpoolers will try and match up what they have seen to a visual image (and photographs work better than line drawings) and this will usually get them the correct species, (unless there are two very alike species and then you will need a specialist identification guide like the Collins Guide to the Seashore).

However, the seashore is a rich and interesting habitat with a myriad of species and 225 pages of this large pocket guide are comprehensively covered to suit the enthusiast.

Extract from the foreword by Keith Hiscock:
"Being able to names to what you see and, better still, to use your observations to add to our knowledge about the natural world is what this book is about."

But the book for a popular audience is more than this. It starts from the assumption that the parents and teachers and older children are unfamiliar with the seashore environment.


by Andy Horton (August 2010)

Oakley Intertidal on Facebook

BMLSS Guide Books

June 2009

My larger shrimp net, the same design that appeared on River Walks

The Edible Seashore (River Cottage Handbook No. 5)
by John Wright was published

Not just a cookery book: you have to go down to the shore and catch or collect the food yourself. The 240 page hardback book (with an index) is exceptionally well produced in quality of the binding, paper as well as the quality of writing, information and clear useful colour photographs. It is well organised into nine chapters:

Conclusion: Highly recommended, essential purchase ***** (highest five star rating).

BMLSS Shrimping

Marine Fisheries Science Yearbook  2010

Publisher:  defra

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

(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 2012
Plans have not yet been finalised for the publications and subscriptions for year 2011. Back copies of previous issues are still available. 

Bulletin Details

For technical reasons, TORPEDO is no longer being sent out by EMail. It is simply easier to view the bulletins on the web pages.

To save download times, only new images are included with each Bulletin.
The Bulletin is designed to be viewed on Internet Explorer using medium fonts at a resolution of 1024 x 768. 
Viewing should be possible on Mozilla and other browsers.

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 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 other web page editors.

Torpedo compiled by Andy Horton
Background design by Andy Horton and other contributors
     24 August 2012
Copyright  2012   © British Marine Life Study Society 
Compiled on Netscape Composer 4.6 and other programs