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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SUMMER 2009 Link to the News Reports, October to December 2009



Link to the Porcupine Society web pages27-29 March 2009
Porcupine Marine Natural History Society Annual Meeting 

Topic: Seashore to Sea Floor 

Venue: University of Plymouth, Davy Building Main Hall on Friday and Saturday 

Coxside Marine Centre in Plymouth on the Sunday, with access to microscopes and running seawater. 



9 December 2009
The very first positive record of a Greater Amberjack, Seriola dumerili, for the seas around the island of Guernsey was caught by commercial fisherman Steve Fallaize off Rousse, off the north-west coast of the Channel Island. It weighed 585 grams. 

Greater Amberjack
Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Sealord Photography

Only twelve of this fish have ever been recorded caught around the British Isles dating from the first one caught off Salcombe in Devon in 1951. It can be mistaken for the rarely caught Guinean Amberjack, Seriola carpenteri. (This species was only described in 1971.) The differences between the Greater Amberjack and the Guinean Amberjack are minor. They differ in gill raker count and ratio of second dorsal fin lobe height to fork length ratio. 

Full Report
BMLSS Amberjacks

12 November 2009
The Marine and Coastal Access Bill received Royal Assent

The Act will create a new marine planning system designed to bring together the conservation, social and economic needs of our seas. A network of Marine Conservation Zones will be created that will protect rare and threatened species and habitats. Four regional projects have started working with local groups and businesses to identify which areas will be designated as Marine Conservation Zones.

DEFRA Press Release
DEFRA: Legislation Page
DEFRA: Key Areas

2 November 2009

Sperm Whale washed ashore at Balmedie
Photograph by James Ross on flickr

30 October 2009
A 40 tonne, 13 metre long Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, was found dead on Balmedie Beach in Aberdeenshire, north-east Scotland. 

Stranding in the Moray Firth 2008
Whales & Dolphins in British Seas
BMLSS Cetaceans

22 October 2009

About 5:00 pm on the shore of Barry Island beach, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, a chap spotted a fin sticking out of the water and hauled in a dead Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, watched by a swarm of congregating gulls. The last British report was also washed up on Barry Island in July 2008

Report and Photograph by Jim Nettleton
BMLSS Swordfish

27 September 2009
On a dive out of John o' Groats (the most northerly settlement of mainland Scotland) I discovered the rarely reported free swimming tunicate Thetys vagina as well as the Mauve Stinger Jellyfish, Pelagia noctiluca, both seen in shallow (10 metres deep) water, within two or three metres of the surface. Thetys was observed swimming by opening and closing its mouth and propelling itself along under the cliffs at Skirza Head (eastern coast). 

Thetys vagina has been rarely recorded in Irish waters. The species was reported for the first time in Irish waters during November 1988 when hundreds of specimens were taken in trawls at offshore. A few specimens were also found stranded on Ventry Beach, near Dingle, County Kerry during July 1987 & 1988

BMLSS Tunicata
BMLSS Jellyfish

10-12 September 2009
A 9.5 metre long Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, was discovered washed up dead at Erith, Greater London, in the River Thames. On 10 September 2009 a large whale was spotted at Tilbury at least ten miles to the east (where the river narrows to 732 metres wide) and this is believed to be the same one. The young male Humpback Whale is believed to have starved to death. 
This is the first record of a Humpback Whale recorded in the Thames, although a large whale of this species was washed up dead on the north Kent coast at Deal in 2006. The Humpback Whale is a deep water species but these whales occasionally wander into the southern North Sea where they can become disorientated and starve to death. In 2006 another young whale became lost and died in the Humber. In 2006 it was a Northern Bottle-nosed Whale that was washed up dead up at Lambeth in London
BBC News Report
BDMLR Report
Whales and Dolphins in British Seas (by Steve Savage)
BMLSS Cetacea
Whale Watching (Britain)

12 August 2009
Thousands of fish have died of suffocation in the seas of St. Austell Bay in south Cornwall. 
"The more we looked, the more dead fish we found, mainly small ones, but eventually even about half a dozen Cuckoo Wrasse, Labrus bimaculatus, - a beautiful red and blue fish, and some others which someone identified as baby Dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, all unmarked but dead in rock pools or on the shoreline. One chap even hauled out a large Conger Eel, Conger conger, from a pool, obviously dead."
The dead fish coincided with a large bloom of plankton that had been blown into the bay. The bloom had turned the water brown and left sludge deposit on the shore. The exact species has not yet been identified. 
Western Morning News Report
Wild About Britain Forum (Report)
Web Site Report by David Fenwick
Selected microphytoplankton species from the North Sea

16 June 2009

Six-gill Shark (Photograph by Leroy)
A rod caught Blunt-nosed Six-gilled Shark, Hexanchus griseus, was landed on board the Clare Dragoon out of Carrigaholt, County Clare, south-west Ireland. The fish which weighed in at 480 kg, (1056 lb), beats the existing European angling record which stands at 466 kg and was landed in the Azores. 
First Report and Photograph by Leroy Kulczynski
Report by David Proudfoot on Planet Sea Fishing Catch Report

BMLSS Six-gill Sharks Page 1
BMLSS Six-gill Sharks Page 2
BMLSS Sharks & Rays

12 June 2009
A most unusual capture of a 120 cm long (Mediterranean) Moray Eel, Muraena helena, weighing about 11 kg, was caught by West Penwith fishermen on their "Trevessa"  beam trawler just 60 miles off Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall. This is the first one this century and only ten are on record of this temperate-tropical fish being caught in UK seas, the previous ones being caught in the 1990s. They are a North East Atlantic fish being found from Senegal to the English Channel (and also in the Mediterranean). 

Mail Online Report & Photograph
Previous Report 2004 from Ireland
Earlier March 1999 Report from Newlyn Fish Market
Earlier Report from Herm, Channel Islands 1996

>16 May 2009
Billions of krill-like pelagic Hyperiid Amphipods (small crustaceans) were washed up on the strandline at Redcar and Saltburn in north-east England (North Yorkshire). The local people reported that the strandings of amphipods have occurred for several weeks prior to this report.

Amphipods (Photograph by Peter Tinsley)

A previous mass stranding of amphipods occurred on the North Sea coast in 1966.

Thousands more were discovered washed up at Whitby in North Yorkshire.

Report by Chris Whitehead
More Images

12 May 2009
A large native European Oyster, Ostrea edulis, weighing 1.36 kg,  width 180 mm, length 170 mm and depth 70 mm  was spotted on Plymouth fish market in a box of mixed fish bought by merchant, Peter Randall of Mevagissey, and is now in the Mevagissey Aquarium

2007 Previous Report of a large Oyster
BMLSS Oyster & Slipper Limpet
BMLSS Molluscs

30 April 2009
A Saupe, Sarpa salpa, was caught by the Looe trawler Guiding Light II, skipper Andy Giles about six miles south of the Eddystone reef (i.e. about 16 miles south of Plymouth). The specimen was 370 mm long, the body plump but elongated with ten longitudinal yellow stripes. This Sea Bream (Sparidae) has only been recorded once before in British seas at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands (on Zostera beds at a spring tide) in 1983

List of NE Atlantic Sparidae

1 March 2009
An unusual octopus was captured in a shallow water net off Brittany, France, by Nick Praed on the "Silver Dawn" fishing out of Newlyn, Cornwall. 

Expert opinion identified the octopus as the deep water species Haliphron atlanticus It was probably the smaller male as the females can grow very large
They are interesting animals which appear to only have only seven arms as the eight one is very small. Records of its occurrence in the eastern Atlantic are exiguous, with specimens caught off Ireland and off the Shetland Isles, Scotland. 

Comments by Dr Louise Allcock
Report and Photographs by Doug Herdson
Full Report
BMLSS Octopuses

24 February 2009
Another Oarfish (or Ribbon Fish), Regalecus glesnewas discovered near some cliffs at Tynemouth Pier, north-east England. This time the three metre long fish was in a good condition. 

Previous Report

1 February 2009
An unusual discovery washed up on the shore at Hauxley near Amble in Northumberland on the north-east coast of England was the decaying remains of an Oarfish (or Ribbon Fish), Regalecus glesne. This is a deep water species and the longest fish found in the oceans reaching a length of 11 metres. The last known record was from Skinningrove, Cleveland on the north-east coast in 2003

BMLSS Oarfish

29 January 2009
Commercial fisherman Steve Fallaize caught a Two-banded Sea Bream, Diplodus vulgaris, in a gill net set over night one mile off L'Ancresse off the north coast of Guernsey. It weighed 1011 grams. 

Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey) Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

Sealord Photography

This fish is a new record for the British Isles.  It is principally a Mediterranean species and is also found on the Atlantic Seaboard of continental Europe and North Africa including Brittany where it is rare.

January 2009

Photograph by Chris Fairchild
Photograph by Kev Tomlinson

Ray's Bream, Brama brama, continue their strandings on the east coast of England and Scotland. 
More Reports

British Marine Life News 2008

Cornish Marine Life Records 2008
BMLSS Oil Disasters page


The Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Forum


Nature Notes Webring

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