British Marine Life
News up to July 1997
British Marine Wildlife Headlines. Reports
of newsworthy marine animals discovered in the seas and on the shore around
the British Isles. Reports of pollution incidents etc.
This link includes News since
This is a very limited service. Links to other
sites producing marine news from the oceans of the world will be included
References only. The entries are listed in
chronological order, the most recent first, from 1997 only.
MARINE WILDLIFE HEADLINES
1997. An oil slick from a leaking MOD pipeline has caused a lot
of mess on The Gosport side of Portsmouth harbour. There are no reports
of wildlife casualties.
A Tope with an estimated weight in excess of 42 kg (93 lb) was caught
by Margaret Tuckwell whilst fishing off Selsey Bill, Sussex, at a mark
known as the Mixon Hole, which is popular with
divers. This weight would have been a world record if the shark had been
landed alive and weighed, but this specimen was returned to the sea, The
current rod and line record of Galeorhinus galeus, is 37.4 kg (82
lb 8 oz) for a Tope caught off Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, (southern
North Sea) in 1991, with another large fish caught in the same area in
1986. Tope are not very common in the English Channel and most specimens
are caught in the summer months. The sharks migrate in from more southerly
seas. The Tope caught at Selsey was 198 cm long and 78 cm in girth.
has since be revised to an estimate of 35 kg.
Tom's Guide to New England Sharks, USA
The continual rainfall and bad weather all around the British Isles during
June 1997 means that there were very few rock pool reports for this month.
Severe gales and heavy rainfall at the end of June 1997 has resulted in
a massive loss of sea bird chicks off the east coast of England. At Bempton
Cliffs, Yorkshire, over 100,000 young Kittiwakes, out of a population of
130,000 - 150,000, perished after five days of gales. On the Farne Islands,
many young Puffins drowned in their burrows. and the loss of Puffin and
Guillemot chicks is estimated at 75% of the large populations. (Source:
Birds, the magazine of the RSPB).
1997. The Bottle-nosed Dolphin that was first seen in the
River Medway, north Kent, at Rochester Bridge, in November
1996, has migrated down to the estuary. It was sighted in deep water
off the jetties at Sheerness Docks on 10 May 1997.
This week it was sighted regularly from Sheerness and seems to go up and
down the river with the tide. Report from Bryan Vallance (Gillingham).
A Smoothhound, Mustelus
sp.,with an estimated weight of 15 kg was caught off Aberthaw, Wales. It
was 127 cm long. The current rod and line record is under 13 kg. This genus
of sharks is commoner in more southerly seas. Two species are found in
British seas and even larger specimens may turn up.
May 1997. Tony Blair, the new Prime Minister of the UK (Labour
party), announces his new Fisheries Team
at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAFF). Jack Cunningham, MP
(Labour party) for Copeland in Cumbria, is the new Minister. The Scottish
Fisheries Minister is Lord Sewell, a Life Baron in the House of Lords.
The Fisheries Junior Minister at MAFF is Elliott Morley, MP for Scunthorpe.
The second in command at MAFF is Jeff Booker, MP for Birmingham Perry Barr.
1997. The new Minister for the Environment is the Rt. Hon. Michael
Meacher MP. A Junior Minister is Angela Eagle MP.
1997. Martyn McDonald landed a Tadpole
Fish, Raniceps raninus, on rod and line using a lugworm
bait from the harbour arm at Newhaven, east of Brighton, East Sussex. The
fish was a fully grown adult fish about 28 cm long and weighed 0.7 kg (1
lb 8 oz). There are no BMLSS records of this fish being caught from the
shore off Sussex. The fish was dark brown with a white band half-way down
The fish is recorded as widespread
and found all around the British coast, but is a solitary and uncommon
fish. The fish may be put on display at the Booth Museum of Natural History,
Brighton. It may also be verified as the largest shore caught specimen
on rod and line. Andy Horton has seen a live specimen
at the Cullercoats Marine Laboratory Aquarium, near Newcastle-on-Tyne.
1997. The new Macduff
Marine Aquarium is opend to the public on the south coast of the Moray
Firth. This Aquarium is devoted to British marine life with a large Kelp
Forest tank which is open to the elements. Macduff is near the fishing
port of Banff. Tel: 01261 833369.
1997. The European Fisheries Ministries in Luxembourg voted for
a 30% reduction in fishing in European waters implemented over the next
5 years. The reduction applies to vessels over 10 metres in length. Tony
Baldry, Fisheries Minister stated that 'The UK will not implement these
measures until the quota-hopping issue is sorted out at the International
Governmental Conference'. Professor Alistair McIntyre (Aberdeen) stated
'It was a very good step forward. It was high time that the fishing pressure
was reduced, and it would be good for the fishing industry in the long
term'. (Information from BBC1 News). There are also restrictions on mesh
sizes of nets which will affect French fishermen.
1997. The stocks are classified in the fishing areas as follows:
DR = seriously depleted, 30% cut in effort, OF = overfished, 20% cut in
effort. FE = fully exploited, no reduction in effort required. [e.g North
Sea (Area IV) DR stocks = cod, plaice, herring, sole and mackerel. OF stocks
= haddock, coley and hake. FE stocks = prawns and whiting. (Source: Fishing
1997. A 30 tonne oil slick was washed up on the shores of the Isles
of Scilly from a ship that ran aground a week ago. The first oil was discovered
around Porth Hellick on the eastern side of the largest island of St. Mary's.
Porth Hellick is a sandy bay surrounded by rocky areas. When the oil seeps
into the sand it will be cleared up by removing the sand and oil. There
is more fuel oil on the container ship and attempts are planned to pump
the oil on to a barge.
1997. The Sperm Whale that swam into the Firth or Forth is
found dead on mudflats. The prognosis was never very good, with almost
all these whales that venture into shallow waters will eventually die shortly
afterwards. See further information below. From 5
May 1997, the skull of this whale will be displayed at Edinburgh
1997. The New London Aquarium on the South Bank, Westminster, near
the Houses of Parliament, opened to the public. It is situated in the former
1997. The Sperm Whale has not been sighted in the Firth of
Forth despite calm weather.
1997. A 13 metre long Sperm Whale,
ventured too far up the Forth of Firth and appears to be unable to escape
from the shallow water by its own efforts. Three more whales are on the
seaward side of the Forth Bridges. As rescue is being planned, but the
whale is still there in the afternoon of 23 March
1997. NB. Sperm Whales have become trapped in enclosed or shallow
waters around the British Isles lots of times in the last few years and
individual cases have not been included in the News Reports prior to 1997
when this Web Site started. Notably a large pod were trapped inside Scapa
Flow a few years ago and there have been a surprisingly large number of
reports from North Sea coasts. For more information the Sea
Watch Foundation, previously the European Cetacean Society may be able
to help. Important telephone numbers are included on the Stranded
1997. A dolphin has been washed up dead at Telscombe Cliffs, a few
miles east of Brighton, Sussex. This is an unusual occurence this far east
up the English Channel. On 5 March 1997, a very small Sunfish,
mola, measuring only about 50 cm x 50 cm, was reported by Jon Makeham
from Looe, Cornwall., washed up dead and already scavenged. Large Sunfish
are usually reported in summer and small ones occasionally, notably off
Steve Savage was unable to
confirm the stranded Common Dolphin, reported by telephone by the EA (NRA).
A half-mile long oil slick was
washed up in patches and globules of oil onto Bracklesham Bay, Beach, West
Sussex, south of Chichester, on 2 March 1997.
Initially, there were no reports of oiled birds.
February 1997, a dolphin, probably a
Common Dolphin was washed
up dead on the shore at Hayling Island, Hampshire, east of the Isle of
Wight, after a week of gales. (see notes below on Cornish dolphins).
February 1997, a small 10 cm Triggerfish,
capriscus, was discovered by Jon Makeham, in fishing nets in Looe
Harbour. This is a very early record of a Triggerfish. In the last decade
adult fish have been regularly caught by anglers and fishermen and seen
by divers in Cornish waters and in Lyme Bay, Dorset during the summer and
autumn. However, this is the first record of a young specimen caught in
February 1997, William Falla, caught a Sea Horse. Hippocampus
hippocampus, at a depth of about 55 metres south of St. Martins Point,
Guernsey. This specimen was recovered alive and housed in an aquarium.
Reports are so regular that a separate file on this web site will be created
in March 1997.
February 1997 a female Sea Horse,
was caught by Mark Blondel fishing for spider crabs in 60 metres (200 ft)
8 to 10 miles SE of St. Martins Point, Guernsey. See other reports of sea
horses in Channel Islands seas below.
February 1997, over 200 oiled birds have been washed up on a 60
mile stretch of the Sussex shore between Selsey Bill in the west and Hastings
in the west.The birds were mostly diving species including Guillemots.
They were covered in heavy oil believed to be discharged illegally by a
merchant ship under cover of bad weather. Clive Pepe (RORE) reports a film
of oil on Rottingdean beach.
1997. A male Tope that was tagged on 17
July 1994 off the Isle of Tiree, west Scotland (Inner Hebrides,
west of Mull), was captured off the SE of Iceland in 220 metres of water
by an Icelandic trawler in the Sidugrunn area. Information from the West
of Scotland Tope and Common Skate Web site. Access is through the index
on BMLSS (Facebook).
and Conservation Index (Scottish Site)
An oil slick of about 2,000
gallons was washed ashore at East Looe beach and has seriously polluted
the shore with a large mortality of limpets. This was first noticed by
John Makeham on the 25th January 1997. Hannafore
Beach at West Looe was not seriously effected although there was oil on
the strandline. A one eyed Grey Seal continues to visit Looe during the
early months of the year.
and porpoises were washed up dead on the shores of Cornwall during January
1997. Many show signs of being injured by fishing nets, not by the
locals, but by large trawlers fishing much further out to sea. One specimen
identified as a Common Dolphin was washed up at Looe on the 20th January.
A Common Dolphin, Delphinus
delphis, was trapped in Emsworth Harbour, West Sussex on 10
January 1997. Southern Marine Life Rescue (Andy Williams) and RSPB
attended. The dolphin was swimming around in circles and appeared ill or
injured. This species is seen in the summer months of the Dorset coast
but is uncommon as far east as Sussex. On Saturday 11
January 1997, the dolphin was rescued but died immediately after
A sea slug, Tylodina
perversa, was found at Hannafore, Looe in December
1996 by Jon Makeham. This is the first record in the British Isles
of this Mediterranean species. The specimen description has satisfied the
experts. In March 1997, Jon Makeham discovered
a further specimen. More information available. Please request by EMail.
Whales seen off Cape Cornwall, inside the Brisons Rocks SW344314
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1996.
Eel, Muraena helena, was caught in parlour pot (creel) just
north of Herm, Channel Islands (English Channel) on 3
October 1996. It is very rare in English Channel with perhaps 6
records in 100 years. More information held. It
was put on display in Guernsey Aquarium.
A Leatherback Turtle,
Dermochelys coriacea, is washed up dead on the Orkney island of
Xiphias gladius, was spotted in the Forth of Lorne, west Scotland,
in September 1996. The two metre long fish
jumped out of the water. It is very rare in British seas. Report by Andrew
Johnson. More .
The discovery of the Beluga
Delphinapterus leucas, swimming in Hoswick Bay (near
Sandwick) late in the afternoon was a first for the Shetland Islands. The
species is very distinctive being almost entirely white in colour and lacking
any dorsal (back) fin.
and Full Report (Shetland Isles Wildlife)
1996: A Fraser's Dolphin,
hosei, is washed up dead on the coast of South Uist, Outer Hebrides.
The identification has been confirmed by the Natural History Museum, London
Whales & Dolphin Report Numbers
A Grey Seal, Halichoerus
grypus, hauled up on the footbridge supports in Shoreham-by-Sea town
centre in Sussex in July 1996. It was well
off its beaten track where Common Seals, Phoca vitulina, are vagrants
and Grey Seals unheard of..
Photograph by Steve Savage (Portslade)
An Atlantic Bonito, Sarda
sarda, was caught by angler of the Marloes peninsula, S W Wales in
July 1996. It was only the eighth confirmed
record from Wales this century. Report by Kate Lock. More.
cabrilla, was captured in a crab pot in June 1996 off Cornwall, and
put on display at Mevagissey Aquarium (closed for the winter). It is very
rarely caught in British seas, but a breeding population could exist in
the English Channel as this was a young specimen. More.
A species of Cusk-Eel,
Lamprogrammus sccherbachevi, a deep water fish from the family Ophidiidae
is brought up from deep water 80 miles west of the Isle of Lewis, in the
Atlantic Ocean. This is only the fifth specimen ever recorded. This family
of fish normally inhabits the Continental Slope (slope from the Continental
Shelf to the Abyssal Plain).
February 1996 the Sea Empress grounded
at the entrance to Milford Haven, SW Wales. The next week resulted in a
disastrous spill of 73,000 tonnes into the rich and varied marine environment.
January 1996, a Short-nosed Sea Horse,
hippocampus, was caught by an Alderney fisherman in a lobster trap.
This is the rarer of two seahorses recorded in the English Channel (see
news below) and is caught with some frequency in deep water (over 30 metres)
around the Channel Islands. One individual was caught off Jersey a week
before, and another one just before Christmas off Alderney. There are 13
records from off Jersey for 1995. The latest specimen was returned to the
sea. Information from
Lord (Guernsey). More information held.
A Moonfish, or Torsk,
Brosme brosme, is found dead on an Orkney beach. This species is
fished extensively by the Norwegians and is perhaps common in these northern
a photographic portrait of this fish.
A male Leatherback Turtle,
Dermochelys coriacea, is landed by an Isle of Skye fisherman in
Aros Bay, Uig. It is over 2 metres long.
At least five specimens of the
Sea Horse, Hippocampus guttulatus (=H. ramulosus), were captured
in Weymouth Bay, Dorset, by a fishing boat obtaining specimens for the
Sea Life Centres in September 1995.
Records of this small fish in
the English Channel on the British side are very rare. A few years before
a specimen was discovered in a rock pool in the Fal estuary, Cornwall.
They were recorded in Victorian times. It is debatable whether they breed
in British seas. More information held.
The seas of the coast of Norway were exceptionally warm and several Triggerfish,
capriscus, were caught, possibly for the first time.
1995 There was a radio news report of a Sailfin
Dory, Zenopsis conchifer, being caught off the south
coast. This fish is a poor swimmer and normally lives off the west coast
The first confirmed British
record of the above fish, as described by Swaby &
record of this fish
The first record in British
seas of the Big-eyed Thresher Shark, Alopias
superciliosus, came from the largest recorded specimen in the world
from the Porcupine Bight in August 1995. The
full report by Teresa Thorpe is in the Vernal/Summer 1996 Glaucus.
In early July
1995 a giant jellyfish was found washed up on the shore outside
the Museum of Galloway Life in Gatehouse of Fleet (SW Scotland). It was
discovered by Neil Barclay and weighed 9 kg (20 lb). It measured
61 cm (24 in) in diameter. The species was not identified in the report,
but it was probably the Lion's Mane Jellyfish,
capillata. This species is dangerous with numerous stinging cells that
can be painful to humans.
Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, recorded in Shoreham
North American Lobster was brought up in a pot with a European Lobster
30 miles south of the Isle of Wight by a south Devon boat. It is a berried
female and was taken to the Marine Biological
Association at Plymouth where it has been put into quarantine until
the eggs are hatched and will be put on view to the public in their
later. The claws are a different shape and reddish on the underside and
the rostrum is rather longer than on the European Lobster.
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
Whale was observed for about one hour, feeding on Mackerel off the
Eddystone Lighthouse, an island off south Cornwall.
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
April 1994, a rare white whale was spotted in the sea to the east
of the Isle of Skye. This whale was believed to be the Beluga Whale,
Hydrothermal Vents eco-system discovered in the deep sea Atlantic Ocean.
The Autumn/Winter 1996 Glaucus
contains features on the Lesser Octopus, Diving in Ireland and Sussex,
The Educational Marine Aquarium, Book and CD-ROM Reviews, Wildlife Reports
in full, The Marine Biological Collector and
more. See Link for Contents list.
The Vernal/Summer 1996 issue
of Glaucus contain extensive coverage of the Sea Empress Disaster in February
of 1996. Wildlife Reports include a feature on Feather Stars, a Lobster's
Meal Time, Rockpooling on Gelliswick Bay, and Cushion Stars.
Wildlife Records 1996
Wildlife Records 1997
Wildlife Records 1998
Wildlife Records 1999
Wildlife Records 2000
Wildlife Records 2001
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1993
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1994
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1995
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1996
Marine Life Records (Ray Dennis) 1997