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


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Link to the News page for Spring 2003
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LATEST NEWS
 

28 December 2003
A rorqual whale of over 30 tonnes is washed up dead on the sandy shore of the bay of Audierne, between Tronoën and the Torch, near Plomeur near Quimper, southern Brittany, France. Samples have been taken by Oceanopolis, Brest (Public Aquarium) who identified the species as a Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalis, that had recently died and measured 19.5 metres in length. 
Full Report


19 December 2003
A "superpod" of thousands of dolphins was spread over about two and a half miles off Nare Head, on the Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall. The species involved is the Common Dolphin, Delphinus delphis, of all age groups including calves and mothers. Other small cetacean species were possibly present. These superpods are a rare once in a lifetime event around the British coast, but very large pods have been seen off the Cornish coast in recent years, the previous one occurring at the beginning of the year. The superpod was accompanied by hundreds of sea birds including Guillemots and Gannets feeding on Mackerel.

First News Report by Franck Dupraz et Océane Grège via UK Cetnet
"Western Morning News" Report
Large Pods of Dolphins off Cornwall in January 2003 (1)
Large Pods of Dolphins off Cornwall in January 2003 (2)
BMLSS Cetacea

18 December 2003
Two Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaengliae, were seen near The Hague (Den Haag), Zuid-Holland. They were discovered by the local department of the lifeboat association who prevented the whales from swimming towards the coast. At dusk they lost the animals near ´s-Gravenzande, some 10 kilometres south of The Hague. The animals were estimated to be 8 and 18 metres long. They were not seen by any of the local sea-migration watchers; the Humpbacks were identified by the pictures made by one of the members of the lifeboat. The identification was confirmed by Kees Camphuysen.
This is the first record of living Humpbacks for the Netherlands. 
Full Report on UK Cetnet

Two large whales swam along the Dutch coast near Scheveningen. They were identified as Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaengliae, from the photographs.
Report (in Dutch) with links to Photographs
Report by Jan Wouter via UK Cetnet
Previous Record (September 2003)
Tragically, on 20 December 2003, a pair of Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaengliae, a male and a young whale, were caught in a fishing net and died.
Report by Jamie Duffie via UK Cetnet
Carcass Photographs
BMLSS Cetacea

5 December 2003
A medium-sized Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was landed at Plymouth Fish Market. It was caught about 24 nautical miles east of Lizard Point, SW Cornwall in a mid-water pair trawl. Adult Bluefin Tuna are no longer caught regularly caught off England and the last one on record was caught in 1968

Full Report
BMLSS Tunnies

4 December 2003
Walkers along the coast at Bovisand in Devon were treated to a rare sight as a five metre long whale was temporarily stranded close to the shore in Heybrook Bay. It has been identified as a Northern Bottle-nosed Whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus, after originally being identified as a Pilot Whale. The malnourished whale was spotted by a walker, Steve Blackhouse, who quickly rang the Coastguard. Bottlenose Whales are rarely seen in the English Channel, normally preferring in waters up to 1,000 metres deep, off the continental shelf.
"Western Morning News" Report
Marine Mammals of the UK Smart Group
British Marine Life Rescue Report
BMLSS Cetacea

31 November 2003
A Cornish long-line fishermen has caught a total 115 Porbeagle Sharks, Lamna nasus, on two long-line fishery trips to their feeding grounds off Cornwall. The largest one weighed 60 kg (132 lb), but is unclear if this was the weight before on after it was gutted. It was two metres long, probably including the tail fin. These look like a pre breeding stock of Porbeagles with females that do not attain maturity until they are two metres in length. This mass capture has raised the ire of environmentalists as the large species of sharks and even some of smaller species like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, are vulnerable to excessive fishing. In the 1960s the Newfoundland fishery for Porbeagle was seriously overfished as ceased as a commercial activity. Hundreds of Porbeagle Sharks are caught off northern France each year. 
BBC News Report
BMLSS Sharks

8 October 2003
The ascidian Perophora japonica was collected from crab pot rope off the south coast of Guernsey by Clive Brown. Colonies of this sea squirt live on fucoid seaweeds, pontoons and other hard substrates. The small translucent zooids (approximately 4 mm long) are budded from stolons and generally rather closely packed. Young parts of colony are yellow or greenish-yellow. 
This ascidian was first recorded in the British Isles in Plymouth Sound in 1999. It had been discovered on the French coast of Brittany a few years earlier. There has also been a further discovery in the Fleet Lagoon, Dorset (near Chesil Beach). 
Report Message
Further Information (Marlin)

Information and first ID by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group


29 September 2003
A large whale, initially identified as a Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, was reported floating 8 km west of Hoek van Holland. Subsequently, it was decided to tow the whale out of the way. However, after an analysis of several photographs by Kees Camphuysen, the whale was identified as a Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae. This the first record of this species in The Netherlands! 
Three Images

Report by Jan Wouter on UK Cetnet


27 September 2003
An outlandish and completely unexpected addition to the Portland Island (Dorset) mammal list came today in the form of a Harp Seal, Pagophilus groenlandicus, that was found hauled out on rocks along the East Cliffs at the Bill during the afternoon; it remained there for three hours before being flushed off by the incoming tide. 
Photograph
The Harp Seal is an Arctic species that is hunted (cf. culled) in the frozen north of Canada. 

Report by Martin Cade via John Young via UK Cetnet
Report on Portland Wildlife News
ORCA (Organsation Cetacea) Report with previous sightings
BMLSS Seals

14 September 2003
Off Worthing (West Sussex), on a shallow water dive site known as the Worthing Lumps, a small school of Rock Cooks (Small-mouth Wrasse), Centrolabrus exoletus, were seen shyly swimming by the rock face, quite unlike the bolder Corkwing, Symphodus melops (=Crenilabrus), and Goldsinny Wrasse, Centrolabrus rupestris

Rock Cooks (Photograph by Paul Parsons)

Rock Cooks (Small-mouth Wrasse), Centrolabrus exoletus
Photograph by Paul Parsons

These inconspicuous wrasse have not been recorded off the Sussex coast before and the books state that is fish is only known from the southern and western coasts of Britain. They may have been overlooked, but they are certainly not a common occurrence. There have been no records of juvenile fish in Sussex rock pools, where the Corkwing first year fish are very common and Ballan Wrasse, Labrus bergylta,  juveniles occasionally discovered. 

BMLSS Wrasse

3 September 2003
large whale skull was landed at Shoreham (Monteum's Wharf, River Adur) from a small (under 10 metres length) trawler fishing three miles off Brighton Marina, Sussex.

  Further Details and Photographs

The whale skull was eventually identified as that of the Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalis. 

Report by Dr Gerald Legg (Booth Museum)
BMLSS Cetacea

30-31 August 2003
National Whale and Dolphin Watch
Sea Watch Foundation 

The Sea Watch Foundation organised the UK's National Whale and Dolphin Watch Weekend, aimed at providing a snapshot picture of the numbers and variety of whales, dolphins and porpoises to be seen around the British Isles.
Details

27 August 2003
Two Melon-headed Whales, Peponocephala electra, became stranded alive near La Rochelle, western France (Charente-Maritime département, Poitou-Charentes région) in the central coastal area of the Bay of Biscay (latitude 46°). Both stranded whales were helped back to sea, but one of them was discovered washed up dead on a nearby beach on 29 August 2003. When the live beached whales were discovered, neither was outwardly seen to be ill or injured. 
This is the first record of this whale seen alive in European seas as this is a tropical species that usually lives and hunts in large schools in the open oceans. 
The dead specimen was an adult male that measured 2.43 metres long and weighed 123 kg (the other whale measured approximately the same length). This is nearly its full size and although they are called whales they are actually 30% smaller than Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus. 

Report from Olivier Van Canneyt, of the Centre de Recherche sur les Mammifères Marins (based in La Rochelle), via ORCA, via UK Cetnet
Full Report and Photographs

BMLSS Cetacea

25 August 2003
Crab potter Micky Guille captured an orange European Lobster, Homarus gammarus, in 60 metres of water about ten miles south-west of Pleinmont, south coast of Guernsey. 

Photograph   Richard Lord

The unusual lobster was kept alive in his vivier, until put on public display in the Guernsey Public Aquarium on 10 September 2003. 

Report from Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Abnormal Lobsters (BMLSS)

20 August 2003
Emergency protection was introduced for the Darwin Mounds, a deep water cold water coral reef off the north west of Scotland near Rockall. The main coral species forming the rare and interesting habitat is Lophelia pertusa but Madrepora oculata is also known to be present. The protection forbids all fishing and oil exploration in the area because of the damage such activities would cause. 
JNCC Report Page
JNCC Committee Paper
Extending Offshore Habitats Protection


c 20 August 2003
Two specimens of the square-carapaced crab, Hemigrapsus penicillatus were caught on the Belgian shore at Koksijde. This Japanese immigrant which has been known from France (1994) and The Netherlands (2000), is a new arrival for the Belgian carcinofauna.

Report by Hans Hillewaert and Francis Kerckhof 
(Biological Monitoring, Sea Fisheries Department, Belgium)
via the CRUST-L (Custacean Discussion Group)
About the same date, some more specimens were discovered on the Belgian coast by Emmanuël Dumoulin.
More Information on this crab
Images
Marine Science Portal

14 August 2003
A Black-faced Blenny, Tripterygion delaisi, was discovered in a rockpool at Les Écréhous, Jersey. This warm water fish fish is more likely to be found in the shallow seas to the south of the English Channel. It is a small secretive fish and although not a true blenny, it hides in crannies and will rarely feature in fishermen or angler's catches. However, diver's are beginning to see more of this attractive fish and they have been reported notably from off the coast of Dorset. This is my first record of this fish discovered on the shore. It was about 55 mm in length.

BMLSS Black-faced Blenny page
 

Rhizostoma octopus off Chesil Beach (Photograph by Peter Glanvill)

Rhizostoma octopus off Chesil Beach
Photograph by Peter Glanvill (Dorset)

6 August 2003
Doing a few boat transects today we saw absolutely loads of the jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus  off the Rhossilhi/Llangennith beach, Gower, south Wales and further into Carmarthen Bay. I'm not even going to attempt a number, but unless they were all stretched out in lines which corresponded exactly with our transects there must have been tens of thousands.

Report by Adam Cooper
BMLSS Jellyfish
 

DEFRA LAUNCHES CONSULTATION ON 
EXTENDING HABITAT AND BIRDS DIRECTIVE 

A Government consultation is to look at increasing protection for important offshore sites such as the Darwin Mounds, Nature Conservation Minister Ben Bradshaw announced.

The 12 week consultation puts forward proposals to extend the protection afforded to important species and habitats under the Birds and Habitats Directives, which currently does not go beyond 12 nautical miles of the UK coastline. 
[extract]
Full Press Release
 

2 August 2003
An ovigerous (with eggs) female Slipper Lobster, Scyllarus arctus, was caught just off the Eddystone Lighthouse, south Cornwall, by Looe-based fishermen Richard Chapman. This strange crustacean is only a rare discovery in British seas, normally found in waters to the south. However, it is now suspected there could be a small breeding population off the coast of Cornwall. It measured 14 cm long and was identified by the experts at MarLIN (Marine Life Information Network).
The exact date of capture was probably a few days before this newspaper report in the Western Morning News
2001 Report

5 July 2003
Whilst angling off Rotunda Beach at the base of Folkestone Pier, Kent, I caught the following fish which I think is an Twaite Shad, Alosa fallax. It was 38 cm (15 ") long and weighed 624 grams (1lb 6oz).  (However, it is possible that this species is the Allis Shad, Alosa alosa, as the only reliable method of differentiating the two species is by counting the gill rakers.)

Click on the picture (on-line) for some images by Paul Whiting
 

The spots along the side of the body present in the Twaite Shad were absent, but these spots are often missing. (Andy Horton)

From the scale pattern on the fish I am pretty sure that it is a Twaite Shad and a spent one at that.  (Miran Aprahamian)

Further Information

15 June 2003
Whilst netting the River Hayle, Cornwall, at low water for sandeel bait, the first sweep brought a mixed bag of Greater Sandeels, Hyperoplus lanceolatus, and Lesser Sandeels, Ammodytes tobianus, plus quite a few Lesser Weevers, Echiichthys vipera. The unusual aspect was the large number of lice on the sandeel and free swimming in the bunt. Whilst ejecting the Weevers we noticed one fish had two lice stuck inside its mouth. My mate caught a louse and promptly let it go as it bit him. They were about 8 mm long. At this size they are only half the size of the adults.

Parasitic isopods (Image by Treve Opie)

These are isopods (wood-lice) and expert Tammy Horton has confirmed that they are the parasitic species Ceratothoa steindachneri.

Report by Treve Opie originally on the Cornish Mailing List
Link to Thumbnail Images

13 June 2003
A massive bloom of plankton has turned the seas around the Shetland Isles a turquoise colour, stretching at least 60 miles, almost the whole length of the islands, from Yell the second most northern island to Sumburgh Head the southernmost tip. The organism was the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi  which is responsible for vast blooms covering up to 40 thousand square miles of the oceans and can be seen from a space shuttle. Blooms this large can change the climate. This plankton bloom is non-toxic not thought to pose a threat to the salmon farms on the Shetlands.

News Report
Reference Book (see Chapter 6)
1999 Report of a bloom off Cornwall

Pelagia noctiluca, Connemara, W. Ireland. Sept 1999 Jim Greenfield10-12 June 2003
Large numbers of pelagic scyphozoan Pelagia noctiluca, the Mauve Stinger (small jellyfish), were spotted all along the east coast of Lundy, Bristol Channel. I was participating in an English Nature drop-down video survey and I found dense shoals of this beautiful pelagic jellyfish. The density was probably in the region of 15 to 20 individuals per square metre at the surface.
NB: Swarms of this jellyfish are unusual in British seas. 

Report by Ian Reach (Maritime Protected Areas Officer, English Nature)
on the  Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
Pelagia Stings
BMLSS Jellyfish page 2

6 June 2003
Millions (literally) of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, (a jellyfish-like animal) are being washed up alive to perish on the shores of Cornwall, now reaching up the English Channel as far east as Polperro and Looe.  All are very small, around 15 mm in length, and still have fleshy body parts attached.

More Cornish Reports

4 June 2003
I was on Charmouth beach in Dorset doing a little fossil hunting and suddenly found myself lying (best way to find tiny crinoids etc) in a wreck of tiny jellyfish. They had a bizarre transparent float and were a vivid blue being only around 25 to 30 mm long. These are By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella.

Report by Dave Walters
Velella page
Velella Notes
MARLin Velella Web Page

3 June 2003
The famous Boar Fish, Capros aper, died after its aquarium sprung a leak in the middle of the night. (It was caught from the Sussex shore at Hove in November 2002).

Vital Statistics
Fishbase Morphology

31 May 2003
Shoreham bathed in a heatwave up to 24° C for the opening of the Adur Festival and Adur World Oceans Day 2003 on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea. About 3000 people attended the event that was steady and busy throughout.

Adur World Oceans Day 2003
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Popular Information File on Adur World Oceans Day 2003
Acrobat Information File on Adur World Oceans Day 2003
Adur World Oceans Day 2003 Images (by Ray Hamblett)

from 20 May 2003
Hundreds of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, (a jellyfish-like animal) are washed up on Cornish beaches.

Reports on the Cornish Mailing List
    Giant Goby (Photograph by Nicolas Jouault)19 April 2003
    The discovery of a Giant Goby, Gobius cobitis, found in a rockpool above the half tide mark at Les Écréhous, Jersey, was a notable discovery. This goby is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act Schedule 5. It has always been known from the shores of Jersey but it is virtually unknown on the northern English Channel coasts with occasional records from Cornwall only. As it name indicates this goby is a 'giant' amongst the Gobiidae, a family of small fishes. The Giant Goby attains lengths of up to 25 cm. 
    BMLSS Gobies
      15 April 2003
    Actinia fragacea (not the one observed) Photograph by Andy HortonThe Strawberry Beadlet Anemone, Actinia fragacea, has been observed discharging eggs in an aquarium. This method of reproduction has been suspected but there have been no observations in print before. 
    Full Report Link Reproduction in British Sea Anemones

    5 April 2003
    The third Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, of the year is washed up dead on the Norfolk coast. This time a 15 metre long whale became stranded on an isolated sandbank on Stiffkey Marshes, on the north coast of Norfolk. 

    Newspaper Report
    BMLSS Cetacea
    Sperm Whale (First Report 2003)

    c. 20 February 2003
    Angler Val Fletcher struggled for 40 minutes to reel a unique shore capture of the deep oceanic fish known as the Oarfish, or Ribbon Fish, Regalecus glesne, off the north-east coast of England at Skinningrove, Cleveland. This rare fish caught on a squid bait came as a bit of a shock, even scary, as first the head and then the whole length of its 3.3 metres emerged from the sea. This elongate silvery fish, with red fins weighed in at 63.5 kg, which actually meant it was rather a small one for arguably the largest, certainly the longest bony fish in the mostly deep oceans (found down to 1000 metres) attaining a normal length of 7 metres and a maximum of over 11 metres, and a maximum weight of 272 kg.
    So unusual was this discovery that it ranks as perhaps the most unusual of all records on these news pages. 
    Link to Photograph
    An alternative story is that the Oarfish became trapped in a net and was brought ashore dead. This seems a more likely occurrence. 

    Report from Richard Lord (Guernsey) from News Reports


    I have serious doubts about the authenticity of this record and it is thought that it could only be a Dealfish (Ribbonfish family), Trachipterus arcticus.  

    Original Report and Discussion (Link)
    Times Report
    Fishbase Entry

    16 February 2003
    A 117 cm pup long of a Bluntnose Sixgill Shark, Hexanchus griseus, was landed at Mevagissey, south Cornwall. The shark weighed 6.3 kg before gutting. The Bluntnose Sixgill Shark is principally a deep water species, usually found offshore and near the bottom at depths of up to 1,800 metres.  Young specimens can however occasionally be found inshore in cold water at depths as shallow as 25 - 50 metres, especially near rocky coasts or islands where deep water occurs close by.
    Sixgill Shark pups measure 65 cm - 70 cm at birth and can grow up to at least 4.8 metres (over 15 ft) long. This grey coloured sharks is unusual in that compared with most species of shark, they have an extra pair of gills. Females are thought to have 22 - 108 pups per litter.
    Full Report 

         
    13 February 2003
    One adult and one juvenile Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, are seen 100 metres off Cove, near Aberdeen, north east Scotland. They swam slowly north past Girdleness breaching about one mile offshore in Aberdeen Bay. This large whale is regularly seen around the Shetland Isles but rarely ventures further south. A solitary Humpback Whale was also seen the Firth of Forth and this similar to one described recently from the Moray Firth so this 13 metre long whale may be the same animal that was seen in company off Aberdeen.  30 January 2003
    From around 3:00 pm to 4.30 pm, I witnessed a very large pod of dolphins swimming eastwards up the English Channel past Polperro, Cornwall. It was impossible, even through my telescope, to firmly identify the species, but there were a mix of (probably) Common Dolphins, Delphinus delphis, and Porpoises, Phocoena phocoena. They were leaping from the water from about a half mile from the coast to the horizon, and spread over the four miles or so that I can see from my window. Numbers must have been well over a thousand. A fantastic sight to witness, and one I have not seen before in my nine years in Polperro. Recent Report of Huge Pods of Dolphins
    BMLSS Cetacea

    29 January 2003
    The level of oil pollution on Belgium's west coast worsened as more and bigger oil slicks from the sunken vessel Tricolor washed ashore and strong winds hampered clean-up operations. A spokeswoman with a Belgian North Sea ecosystem management institute, BMM, said the situation at Zeebrugge and Blankenberge had worsened since yesterday and oil slicks several square metres in size were being washed ashore. The Knokke-Heist Council also reported that oil clumps had polluted the beach at Heist, but it was not yet certain whether the oil had infiltrated the De Baai Nature Reserve. Oil has also washed ashore at Bredene, but the town's Mayor, Willy Vanhooren, said the situation was not yet an environmental disaster.

    Additional Report
    Oiled Birds on Belgian beaches

    28 January 2003
    Thousands of By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella, are discovered washed up, alive or very freshly dead, on Perranporth Beach, Cornwall, together with the Violet Snail, Janthina janthina, (two shells) that preys on Velella. This gastropod is rarely recorded in British seas even when there are large numbers of Velella stranded. It is always worth looking for this attractive and fragile shell. 
    Exceptionally, between 100 and 200 of the small jellyfish called Pelagia noctiluca, the Mauve Stinger or 'Nightlight' jellyfish were also discovered. These swarms seems to occur about every five or ten years, and is easily recognised by the pustules that cover the small (rarely more that 75 mm across) dome or umbrella.
    The cuttlebones of all three species of large British cuttlefish, Sepia, and a Spirula (a tiny mesopelagic cephalopod) shell were also found in the squally conditions on the shore.
    Rory Goodall has also found large numbers of Velella, on Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall. 

    Report by Paul Gainey from Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List
    BMLSS Jellyfish & large Medusae
    BMLSS Cuttlefish
    BMLSS Molluscs

    24 January 2003
    A 14 metre long male Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, beached at the mouth of the River Ouse, near Kings Lynn, Norfolk, and died as a result of the stranding. The dead whale was present on Brest Sands in the Wash the following day when Rob Deaville from the Natural History Museum performed a post-mortem. The ultimate cause of the live stranding could not be determined but the animal appeared to be reasonably aged (very worn teeth) so this may have played a factor. This large whale is rarely stranded on English North Sea coasts, with the first of the 20th century in 1986 and four records thereafter. 

    BMLSS Cetacea
    Sperm Whale (southern North Sea, stranded dead) 2000

    A four metre long Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, is washed up dead on Shanklin beach on the east coast of the Isle of Wight. This could be the same whale that was spotted briefly stranded in Portland Harbour. 

    Report by Luke Richards
    23 - 28 January 2003
    Over a period of five days, at least 2,000 oiled birds have washed ashore on Belgian beaches, especially between De Panne and Ostend and more are coming in.
    The majority of the birds are Guillemots, but more than 100 Razorbills were also washed ashore.
    Report by Jan Haelters
    By 29 January 2003, the numbers are much greater than this and oiled birds are being found over a wider range. On Dunkerque (France) beaches we discovered 125 dead oiled birds (mainly Guillemot) and only four survivors. The count for Belgium is over 2000 surviving birds.  Additional Report
    BMLSS Sea Birds
    Oiled Birds

    13 January 2003

    Green Turtle found on Guernsey 1/2003 (Photograph  by Richard Lord, Guernsey)A live Green Turtle,Chelonia mydas, was stranded on the west coast of Guernsey (Channel Islands) in the afternoon. Elliot Green, was playing football with his young son, discovered the turtle on Saline Beach and reported it to the Guernsey Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA). Geoff George and Yvonne Chauvel (in the photograph) collected the turtle, and after it had been treated by veterinarian John Knight, transferred it to the Guernsey Aquarium at St. Peter Port until arrangements can be made to release it into the sea at a suitable location (preferably warm water).  The curved carapace length of the turtle is 75 cm and the curved carapace width is 68 cm. This turtle inhabits tropical seas including the Atlantic coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea. This turtle is only very rarely recorded in British seas. 

    Report from Richard Lord (Guernsey)
    British Marine Turtle Stranding Network
    Green Turtle Information Page
    BMLSS Turtles
     

    9 January 2003
    Already 32 dead cetaceans, have been washed up on the shores of south Cornwall this year, so that the recorders and helpers including David Ball of the Silver Dolphin Conservation and Diving Centre at Porthleven, Cornwall can hardly keep track of the 'tide' of carcasses. The dolphins have been in the sea for long enough for them to start to decompose. They are all tagged with with cable ties around the tail, so that if they wash out and re-beach, they can be identified. At least some of them have probably been caught in fishing nets. 
    By 18 January 2003 the number had risen to 55. Most have been Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis), one was a Striped Dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), Harbour Porpoises, (Phocoena phocoena), number about 10, and several carcasses were too decayed to be identified. 
    By 30 January 2003, the number had increased to 77.

    Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society
    BMLSS Cetacea

    4 January 2003
    Fishermen aboard the Polperro (south Cornwall) bottom trawler "Girl Jane" reported an extraordinary dolphin sighting whilst fishing some 13 miles west of Plymouth, and about two miles offshore, they encountered a pod of leaping dolphins estimated to be "many hundreds", perhaps a thousand. The species was not identified. At the same time they received a call on the radio from a sister ship fishing 10 miles east off Rame Head that they were surrounded by at least two hundred dolphins (obviously a different pod). 
    On 17 January 2003 Polperro trawler "Girl Jane" (again) reported another huge pod of dolphins and porpoises, whilst shooting nets some 20 miles off Rame Head. Trawler "Cazadora", three miles or so away at the time also recorded dolphins. In both cases the number reported was "hundreds". Also, the Plymouth mackerel boats off Eddystone reef stopped fishing as they were catching dolphins rather than fish.


    Triggerfish (Photograph by Andy Horton)1 January 2003
    My dog discovered a 25 cm (10 in) long Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, are washed up dead on the beach between Seascale and Sellafield (Cumbria). I recognised the body shape and the shell crunching type of teeth in the book.

    Reports on the north-west coast of England are unusual, although there have been specimens washed up on much more northerly Scottish islands. Even on the south west coasts, reports in the year 2002 were reduced in numbers. 
    BMLSS Triggerfish

    27 December 2002
    Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, is spotted just before midday stranded on some rocks in Portland Harbour, Dorset. The coastguards were called and they managed to push the whale back into the water and it spent the rest of the day swimming around the large natural harbour, but it has yet to be coaxed back out to the open sea.  This species of whale is rarely seen in the shallower parts of the English Channel. 
    BBC News Report
    Corrected Report by Clive Martin (Biscay Dolphin Research Programme)
    BMLSS Cetacea

    12 December 2002
    Early in the morning a young 8 metre long Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, entered the naval harbour of Frederikshavn on the northern Kattegat coast of Denmark. It remained in the harbour for the whole of the day and is believed to be feeding on the shoals of small fish seen. This large whale is regularly seen around the Shetland Isles but rarely ventures further south.

    Video Footage
    Cornish Humpback
    BMLSS Cetacea News

    5 December 2002
    In the last few weeks 640 oiled sea birds have been washed up on the East Anglian coasts of Suffolk and Norfolk. The source of the oil has not been discovered, but it is believed to have been released from an old wreck. 
    BBC Television News Report
     
     

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Boar FishBoar Fish, Capros aperBoar Fish