by Andy Horton 

Aquarists and wildlife enthusiasts will often want to find out more information about the fish they keep or are interested in. Is the information technology revolution fulfilling their needs?

I have noticed a trend amongst the 3900 Email messages I have received in the last two years (up to the end of 1998) (the figures are now about 10000 a year), that some Internet surfers expect to find an easy source for the information they want. Electronic information is definitely the future, but it will be well into the next century before it will replace the current repositories of information in the Libraries, and the masses of written work on paper, and interesting material on film and tape.


The Internet is a research tool, entertainment, an advertising banner, and market place all rolled into one. So is it any good for finding out anything useful? The answer is that you may get lucky if somebody has deigned to put the information out into cyberspace. The second question to ask, and this applies to all research; is the information accurate?

There is very little quality control out there. This differs from most books, which have been through some form of checking, at least to get the spelling correct. Nowadays, we are daily bombarded with images and words that we need to have our wits about us to get anywhere the truth.


The Aquarist & Pondkeeper  is ahead of the field because Kathy Jinkings of the British Aquatic Resource Centre writes a regular monthly column for all aquatic tastes. This gives a picture of some of the information of what is out there on the World Wide Web and is a good first choice to search for more information. However, if your specialist interest is the marine life around the British Isles, it is best to log on to the British Marine Life Study Society (England) site at

There are at least 78 links on the Homepage which links to other pages with even more links.
The subject of interest can also be searched for using one of the Search Engines. At the time of writing I recommend EBlast, the Encyclopaedia Britannica search method, at It is combined with the Alta Vista Search Engine, which has proved itself over a period of time.

Can you accept chaos? There is so much information out there in cyberspace, it resembles an electronic version one of those second-hand bookshops with the books stacked on top of each other, with the semblance of order lost in the sheer weight of information. Some useful volumes are right at the bottom of the pile. On a web site, these pages may be hidden in a directory and may need to be searched for through several links. Pages can be accessed through the standard conventions, clicking on some underlined text for more information, or clicking on a button (a symbol, illustration or text in a coloured shape) to go to another page. Clicking on the picture can sometimes enlarge photographs.


Alan Pemberton (Edinburgh) started the first British Marine Life Study Society web site in August 1996. This is now the official Scottish site at
BMLSS (Facebook) URL=
I started the English site on 1 January 1997, so I have had two years of experience of what the World Wide Web means to marine life enthusiasts and fishkeepers in the modern world. During this time I have received over 3600 Email messages.

At the very beginning I was enthusiastic about the Web as a publishing medium, especially for minority interests. The advantage is it is easier and cheaper to publish information. The disadvantage is that only 50% of BMLSS members are connected to the Internet.

The aim of the British Marine Life Study Society (BMLSS) is to produce information about life in the seas around the British Isles. This is such a vast subject that we could not produce all the facts. Therefore a visitor to the site cannot treat our web pages as a comprehensive source for everything found in the sea.


To try and make sense of all the information available I have compiled a list of recommended books, CD-ROMs and Internet sites on British marine life and posted them on the British Marine Life Study Society (England) web site. This is a “Special Service” for readers of this article and BMLSS members. To obtain details of how to get to the site please send an Email to the destination in the box at the foot of this page. Put the title “Shore Watch Bibliography” on the message for a speedy response.


One of the most useful web sites is the Internet Biodiversity Service, Species 2000, ICLARM Fishfinder Database, which can be accessed by going to the BMLSS Fish Page and running down the index to find the link which takes you into the site. Most of the common fishes found in the sea can be searched for under both common and scientific names and there are plans to include all of them. On the BMLSS (England) Homepage there are links to recommended marine wildlife sites in the Channel Islands and Norway. There is also a link to the Marine Life Society of South Australia.  On the Fish web page there is a link to databases (Fishfinder and Fishbase) of marine fish. There are also the Gateway pages that link to related web sites.

We are always interested in hearing marine wildlife reports from around Britain. The most interesting reports are published on the innovative Marine News page. There is also the Torpedo monthly news bulletin and a Forum page for discussion. Researchers wanting information not in print, anecdotes and scientific papers can post a request on the Forum page. The web site will contain the only comprehensive list of Public Aquaria in the United Kingdom. Pictures can also be downloaded on to your computer, but permission is required for their use on your own web sites or publication in any form. The copyright of all articles, photographs and illustrations sent in for the web sites remains with the author.

The motto of the British Marine Life Study Society is Vincit omnia veritas which means “Truth Conquers All”.


The Official BMLSS web site pages do not contain any executable files (*.EXE) or any files with program codes that could possibly cause harm your computer. There are no direct links to these files. The pages were constructed using Netscape Composer.

Andy Horton on behalf of the British Marine Life Study Society will help readers who have any difficulties to pursue their interest in the marine life around the British Isles. The first enquiry will be answered free of charge but please enclose a return stamp and do not forget to include your address.  For more information please write to:
Andy Horton, Shore Watch, British Marine Life Study Society, Glaucus House, 14 Corbyn Crescent, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. BN43 6PQ.
Web Site:
BMLSS (England)  URL=
BMLSS (Facebook) URL=
The Webmaster for the Scottish site is Alan Pemberton.

World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day was first declared as 8th June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Events occur all around the world on this day, and because this year it falls on a Tuesday events will also occur on the weekend before and after this date. The British Marine Life Study Society will be presenting its annual photographic exhibition in the weeks surrounding this date. The best bet is to look in the local newspapers for events occurring in your area. The BMLSS (England) web Homepage has a special link to pages for more information about events on this day.

Seashore Snaps

One last thought, which should be within the bounds of the casual visitor to the shore. Take your camera with you, adequately protected from the corrosive sea spray and fine particles of sand. I like to see well composed pictures of rocky shores, especially at low tide, showing the pools, rocky terrain, vegetation and the general scene. The idea is to get a portfolio of seashore photographs to help in the documentation of the coast around Britain. This means that the name of the beach should be included. The best shots can be included on the BMLSS web site. If you wish your photographs to be returned, please include your return address.

British Marine Life Organisations

British Marine Life Study Society Home Page
News 2001 
News 2000
Main Links 
Membership Form
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