Marine Life News Bulletin

January 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



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

20 January 2012
At least six Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalis, up to 20 metres long, were spotted swimming rapidly on and near the surface. These baleen whales were feeding on Herring off Waterford and County Wexford on the south-east coast of Ireland (St. George's Channel). There have been regular reports from this area plotted on the map by the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group

18 January 2012
An influx of Arctic species of gulls into the Scotland and the north of Ireland and England has been notable during the coldest month of the year. A rarity was the appearance of a Ross's Gull, Rhodostethia rosea, at Ardglass, County Down, Northern Ireland. It was seen from the harbour wall at the mouth of the harbour entrance, found at 3:20 pm, and viewed until dark. This was the first Ross's Gull for Northern Ireland in 14 years. Eight Iceland Gulls, Larus glaucoides, and three Glaucous Gulls, Larus hyperboreus, were also noted. 

An Iceland Gull, Larus glaucoides, was attacked by an Otter, Lutra lutra, in Baltasound, Shetland Islands. 

Iceland Gull & Glaucous Gull ID photograph
Photograph by Pauline Majury
Ross's Gull @ Ardglass Harbour
Photograph by Craig Nash
Peregrine's Bird Blog
Bonaparte's Gull @ Ballygalley
Photograph by Kenny & Pauline Majury
Northern Ireland Birds & Wildlife

15 January 2012
There were two reports of a Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, off Aberdeen on the north-east of Scotland. 

Kumlien's Gull in Lerwick Harbour (video)

The Bonaparte's Gull, Chroicocephalus philadelphia, is the American equivalent of the Black-headed Gull. One was spotted at Ballygalley, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on numerous (over 50) occasions. This was the first one seen in Northern Ireland since 1998.

14 January 2012
A smelly decomposed carcass of a long dead whale washed ashore by the fishermen's huts beneath the cliff at Marwick, Birsay, Orkney Islands, attracted the arctic gulls in like a magnet. Iceland Gulls, Larus glaucoides, and Glaucous Gulls, Larus hyperboreus, were joined by the far rarer Kumlien's Gull, Larus glaucoides kumlieni. "With such a large amount of carrion there is little desire to flee being shown by the birds and at times it was hard to tell who was drooling the most the feasting gulls or the throng of birders atop of the adjoining cliff."

Report on Daf's Orkney Birding on facebook
Orkney Birds
Blubber image by Lorna Whittle
Blubber image by Lorna Whittle
A phalange bone out of a flipper from the cetacean
by Orkney Birding

on  facebook

A rare American immigrant Kumlien's Gull, Larus glaucoides kumlieni, was photographed in Galway Harbour on the west coast of Ireland. 

The bird on the left is a common Black-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Picture Report on the Irish Birds in Flight on flickr

Photograph by Stephen Lawlor

Kumlien's Gull ID Notes
Photograph by Stephen Lawlor

13 January 2012
A a pod of about a dozen Risso's Dolphins, Grampus griseus, was spotted by fisherman Rodger Clarke off Abercastle, about ten miles south of Strumble Head, SW Wales. 

The Cardigan lifeboat responding to call to five miles north of Poppit was surrounded by a large pod of over a hundred Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, in Cardigan Bay, Wales, on its return.

Report by Paul Newman on Razorbill RIB Charter on facebook
BMLSS Cetaceans
Snow Bunting (Photograph by Andy Horton) January 2012
Two small Snow Buntings, Plectrophenax nivalis, were well camouflaged amongst the pebbles on Shoreham Beach, Sussex, feeding on seed provided for them and attracting a handful of birdwatchers with telephoto lens. Snow Buntings are a very scarce winter visitor and passage migrant to the Adur area. These birds were first reported on 27 November 2011 and were still around on 17 January 2012
Adur Nature Notes (January 2012)

10 January 2012

A three metre long shark was spotted cruising the shallow seas off Exmouth in south Devon.

Report and Video by Stephen Gale
Link to the Basking Shark First web pageThe shark seen off Exmouth is not a Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, but a Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus.. BMLSS Shark News

8 January 2012
Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, are a regular sight around the Shetland Islands, feeding on a variety of prey including seals. A pod of four Killer Whales kept a crowd of wildlife watchers entranced for hours on a still afternoon,
An adult female led one immature whale and two even younger whales from the south west tip of Shetland at West Voe round to the east of the islands, swimming up to Sound of Mousa where they were last seen in the afternoon as it got dark. Shetland Wildlife tour operator Hugh Harrop said "the most exciting part of the experience was observing the two youngest whales catching small birds, an unusual but not unheard of spectacle. We witnessed the two young ones turning on a sixpence, diving and slapping their tails and watched a Long tailed Duck (or 'Calloo' ), Clangula hyemalis, come to a bitter end."  Shetland Killer Whale Images on facebook

6 January 2012
An Iceland Gull, Larus glaucoides, was photographed on Shoreham Beach, on the seaward side of the west arm of the harbour from late morning to 1.15 pm. The Iceland Gull is a very scarce winter visitor and passage migrant to Sussex. 

Native Sussex (Mick Davis) Birding Blog

4 January 2012
A two metre long Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was washed up alive on to the beach at West Bay, Dorset, and hauled back into the water by Jeannette Longley, but it was found dead on the shore at Burton Bradstock shortly afterwards.

BMLSS Sharks

3 January 2012
A young Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, was discovered on the shore at Tresilian Bay, near Llantwit Major, on the south Wales coast. This was the second of these young turtles discovered dead after the gales since Christmas 2011. These endangered turtles breed on the coasts of Mexico and are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico and were thought to have blown across the Atlantic Ocean. The turtles are likely to have perished in the cold seas. 
Earlier Report

BMLSS Turtles


30 December 2011
An adolescent Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, washed up dead after the gales in Epple Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, on the north Kent coast. Following a post mortem, Jon Brooks, a marine mammal medic and East Kent co-ordinator of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said: “The cause of death has been put as combination of dehydration, starvation and parasitic infestation in intestines and all three stomachs. The whale was in reasonable condition but hadn’t eaten for some time – there was no food in the gut, which also showed a heavy parasite burden.”  There is a resident population of Minke Whales in the North Sea. 

BMLSS Cetaceans

27 December 2011
A Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, hauled out on a dock at Tayport (on the south coast of the Firth of Tay, near Dundee), east Scotland. Its arrival followed a spate of storms across Scotland. 

Bearded Seal (Photograph by Sam Gibson)

A Bearded Seal was also seen at St. Cyrus (near Aberdeen) about 30 miles further north in November 2011. In view of the rare sightings of this Arctic seal around the British Isles it is likely to be the same one. 

Report and Photograph by Sam Gibson

Bearded Seals are normally found all along the European, Asiatic and North American coasts of the Arctic Ocean. Its food consists entirely of bottom-living animals including shrimps, crabs, clams, whelks and bottom fish such as flounder. It is a very unusual seal to be found in the waters around Scotland. 

Previous Report 2008

Seals in Scotland (Identification)

24 December 2011

Sperm Whale stranded dead at Hunstanton
Photograph by Sara Evans

An 16.7 metre adult Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, was washed up dead on Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk. It attracted numerous sightseers over the Christmas holiday.

BMLSS Cetaceans


Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Mailing Groups

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

British 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


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.

Featured Species


This well camouflaged Common Topknot, Zeugopterus  punctatus, clings to the underside of rocks. This small flatfish was photographed on a wreck near the island of Coll, Inner Hebrides, west Scotland. 
Photograph by Christine Howson

BMLSS Topknot

This Norwegian Topknot, Phrynorhombus norvegicus is the other one of two Topknots found around the British Isles and is often overlooked because of its small size. 


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.

Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, hunting Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, in the Sound of Mousa
on 29 June 2011
Photograph © by Richard Nicoll Photography

The dorsal fin of the largest whale is around two metres tall.

Killer Whales, Orcinus orca, are a regular sight around the Shetland Islands, feeding on a variety of prey including seals. There are several groups and overlapping populations, one of which can be seen in the Sound of Mousa, a relatively narrow stretch of sea between south Mainland and the island of Mousa.

Individual Killer Whales can be identified by their huge dorsal fins and have been given names.
Killer Whales around Scotland

Sound of Mousa (from the island of Mousa) showing the Broch
on geograph
 © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Nature in Shetland

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

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






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 January 2012
Copyright  2012   © British Marine Life Study Society 
Compiled on Netscape Composer 4.6 and other programs