MARINE LIFE NEWS  2012

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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Winter 2012 News Reports, January - March
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Link to the News Reports, October to December 2012

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EVENTS:


LATEST NEWS: 

November 2012
An incredibly rare all white Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, spotted by engineer Dan Fisher off the coast of Norway on a boat trip to Svalbard in the Arctic north. He climbed the mast to take some photographs of the white whale amongst a pod of the normal grey whales. This rare event has only ever been seen in one adult Humpback Whale before

27 October 2012

Shale Cliffs at Rope Head Lake, Purbeck
with the baleen whale (inset)
Photograph by Dom Greves

A large baleen whale was spotted by Ilay Cooper, (author of Purbeck Revealed), at Rope Lake Head, Purbeck, Dorset, beneath the vertical shale cliffs. He discovered the 13.6 metre (44.6 ft) long carcass whilst walking along the shore at low tide. Its inacessible location and the position of its head and blowhole made it difficult to identify. Dorset Wildlife Trust’s marine conservation officer, Emma Rance, believed it could be a juvenile Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, which would be a first discovered on a Dorset shore. 

More Images by Steve Trewhella (Link)
BMLSS Cetacea

6 September 2012
As the sun rose above the ocean on the edge of the continental shelf off south-west Ireland (on the Porcupine Bight, west of Dursey Island in County Cork), the team on the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's new marine research vessel Celtic Mist were greeted by several Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalus, and shortly afterwards had the amazing opportunity to witness two Blue Whales, Balaenoptera musculus, surface within 500 metres of the boat. This is only the third discovery of Blue Whales off Ireland on a week long trip in which eleven cetacean species were recorded. 

BMLSS Cetaceans
Bathmetry (British Isles)

2 September 2012
An extremely unusual of an angling capture of a Long-billed (Atlantic) Spearfish, Tetrapturus pfleuger, off a beach known as the Knap, Barry Island, south Wales, was the first known record of this tropical pelagic fish in British seas. 

Long-billed (Atlantic) Spearfish

"This fish was caught around 1 hour 45 minutes after high water, The fish was very clean an lively an even had a sticky fish stuck to it. It was then put back alive but wasn't very strong so I got in the sea to help it out. It the swam off alive, minus the sucker fish which I lost."

Sea View Lads Angling Club

2 September 2012
 

Pilot Whale Stranding
Photographs by Jacqui Hetherington

A mass stranding of 26 Long-finned Pilot Whales, Globicephala melas, was discovered at the foot of the steep cliffs at Pittenweem (near Anstruther), Fife, east Scotland, at 7.10 am in the morning. Thirteen of the Pilot Whales which were already dead and probably only nine of the remaining animals were likely to survive. The survivors were being attended to by the medics and volunteers of British Divers Marine Life Rescue. At mid morning, reports came in of another 24 Pilot Whales in the shallows three miles along the coast at Cellardyke on the north coast of the outer Firth of Forth. By the late afternoon three of the surviving whales perished, but ten of them swam off strongly into open water on the high tide, two of them with help from the human volunteers to join the pod as they had stranded again. 

Pilot Whale Stranding & Rescue in 2011
BMLSS Cetaceans
 

24 August 2012
An exceptionally large 7 kg (15 lb 4 oz) European Lobster, Homarus gammarus, was found by divers, Mark Corp and Mark Reed, and donated to the Blue Reef Aquarium at Portsmouth. It appears to be the largest and heaviest Lobster caught off the British coast since 1931

BMLSS Lobsters

A very rare leucistic all white Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, was photographed in the Moray Firth, off NE Scotland.

13 & 14 August 2012

Fin Whale & Boy (Photograph by Robin Leath)

Fin Whale floundering in the surf at Carlyon Bay
Photograph by Robin Leath

On successive days two Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalus, became stranded alive but dying on the Cornish and Irish coasts respectively. 
Full Reports & Links
 

14 August 2012
An 18 metre long Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, swam into Baltimore Harbour, County Cork, early in the  morning and stayed virtually motionless at the bottom of the pier all day. Fishermen tried to coax the huge mammal back into open water without success. As crowds of people arrived to watch, experts realised that the whale must be ill to behave in such a strange manner.
Pádraig Whooley (IWDG) said "the whale’s behaviour suggested it was very unwell and would almost certainly die. If this was a healthy whale she could probably reverse out of harbour. It looks somewhat emaciated, and thrashing throughout the night has caused some injuries." 
The whale died in the harbour on 15 August 2012 Irish Whale & Dolphin Group (IWDG)
IWDG Facebook Discussion
Whales & Dolphins in British Seas

Fin Whale blowing, trapped in Baltimore Harbour
Photograph by Keith Kingston





13 August 2012
An unusual report was received of a tropical Smalltooth Sandtiger Shark, Odontaspis ferox*, washed up on the southern coast the English Channel (la Manche) and found alive on the sandy shore at Agon-Coutainville on the Cherbourg Peninsula (west coast). (So extraordinary was this report that I did not include it until the identity of the fish could be verified.) The 2.5 metre long shark, weighing in excess of 200 kg was pushed back into the sea and was not recovered for identification. 
(*probable ID only, not verified.) 
Discusssion on the Marine Wildlife of the NE Yahoo Group

BMLSS Smalltooth Sandtiger Sharks
 

24 July 2012
A large 400 tonne cliff fall occurred at Burton Bradstock on the Jurassic Coast, Dorset; unfortunately killing and burying a young woman walking underneath. The soft crumbly limestone cliffs have a predilection for landslides after periods of heavy rain. 


Geology of the Wessex Coast
 
 

Photographs by Graham Wiffen Photography

Cliff Fall at Burton Bradstock
Photographs by Graham Wiffen
Graham Wiffen Photography
Graham Wiffen Seascapes

23 July 2012

A juvenile Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus,  was observed swimming in very shallow water (swimming amongst bathers!) at the coastal town of De Panne (Belgium) . It’s length was estimated at around two metres, and it could be identified through the photographs provided by deputy-chief lifeguard Filip Jongbloet.


Photograph by Nic Faulks15 July 2012
An Arctic Rigid Cushion Star, Hippasteria phrygiana, was spotted on a dive off the Northumberland coast in the proposed Marine Conservation Zone between Coquet and St Mary’s. This northern species is one of only two records off an English coast. It usually inhabits the seas off Greenland and all over the northern Atlantic although it it is present in the seas around the Shetland Isles and it has been trawled off St. Abbs further north on the same North Sea coast. This cushion star was around 10 cm across and was recorded at 20 metres depth on a cobble/pebble seabed. 

Marine Conservation Zone Project Interactive Map
BMLSS Echinoderms
 

9 June 2012

Adur World Oceans Day 2012
Understanding and celebrating our marine environment

The twelfth Adur World Oceans Day 2012 took place in the marquee on Coronation Green, by Shoreham Footbridge at the High Street end on the second Saturday of the Adur Festival. Len Nevell of the British Marine Life Study Society presented the usual exhibition of lobsters and crabs. The Friends of Shoreham Beach (FOSB) took an active role with their display of the wonders of Shoreham Beach. Wildlife writer Steve Savage presented the whale and dolphin exhibition with the life sized replica of a Bottle-nosed Dolphin

More Photographs on Facebook
World Oceans Day on Facebook
United Nations: World Oceans Day

30 May 2012
A Silver Dory (=Sailfin Dory), Zenopsis conchifer, was caught by Pierro Le Cheminant from his trawler, Amy Blue, at the northern end of the Big Russel to the north of Sark, in the Channel Islands. The trawl at the edge of a reef netted this deep water (mesopelagic) Atlantic Ocean fish which is very rarely caught in British seas. The fish could be mistaken for John Dory, Zeus faber

Previous Record 2002 (from Cornwall)

29 May 2012
A pod of five to seven Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, were spotted by anglers from their boat off Hastings, East Sussex. Minke Whales are a very rare sight off the Sussex coast at any time of the year.

Video Link

 The encounter lasted 15 minutes and this one minute clip showed three of the whales.
24 May 2012
This blenny was spotted at a depth of 12 metres at Eastern Kings, Plymouth. Its body was narrow, not deep like the Tompot, Parablennius gattorugine, about 150 mm long, has head tentacles, as you can see, but lacks noticeable dark face markings.
Report & Photographs by Martin Palmer


This is the Variegated Blenny Parablennius pilicornis. It is out of the known range of the latter blenny. It has been seen before at Plymouth on the same dive site

Comments by Andy Horton

23 May 2012
An exceptionally large Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, was caught on road and line by Wayne Comben and Graeme Pullen and released 300 metres off Boscastle, north Cornwall. It was measured at about 10 ft (3 metres) long with a girth of about 2 ft (60 cm) which experts think was likely to be a pregnant female with an estimated weight of 550 lb (250 kg) and this would have exceeded the previously largest shark caught by an angler in British seas beating the previous 1993 world angling record for the species of 230 kg. The shark towed the small boat for a mile before it was hauled alongside. Even if it was possible to land the fish on to the boat, the Porbeagle is now a protected species under European Union (European Commission on Fisheries) legislation. 

 BMLSS Sharks

18 April 2012

Dolphins in Cardigan Bay 2011
Photograph by Rhys Thatcher

New evidence has emerged of the distances Cardigan Bay’s Bottle-nosed Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, choose to travel during the winter months. Experts have found at least some of them head north and like to spend their winter breaks in the seas around the Isle of Man. Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre’s (CBMWC) science officer Sarah Perry has been studying photographs taken by Manx conservation groups in Douglas Bay in January and has managed to identify at least eight of the animals previously seen off New Quay (SW Wales). 
The images were taken by the Manx Wildlife Trust marine officer Eleanor Stone(Extract)


9 March 2012
A spectacular cliff fall occurred between Langdon Cliffs and South Foreland Lighthouse on the Kent coast when an area the size of a football pitch suddenly fell away, sending thousands of tonnes of chalk crashing 100 metres down on to the shore in an area known as Crab Bay, part of the white cliffs of Dover


Discovering Fossils (Dover, Kent)

View of the Crab Bay cliff fall, from Langdon Heights

Photograph on the left by Kevin Mudge-Wood/TAT Photography

View of the cliff fall from the bottom of the cliffs
Photograph by Lee Pelling Photography

Click on the image for the report

January 2012
There has been an influx of Arctic gulls seen in the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands and further south off the Scottish mainland and islands and off Ireland and on English coasts as far south as the English Channel. 
Full Reports
 

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

16 January 2012
The largest ever Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua, angled in the English Channel weighed 19.8 kg (43 lb 9 oz) was landed by boat by Chris Proctor and caught 20 miles off Pevensey Bay, East Sussex,


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
The consensus seems to think it was likely to be a Basking Shark althought I thought it could be a Blue Shark, Prionace glauca.

9 January 2012
A juvenile 26.4 cm long Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was discovered alive on the rocks at along Widemouth Bay on the north coast of Cornwall. This young ocean traveller was likely to have been washed in by the recent gales. Reports are rare in all months of the year, but especially so in the first months of the year when the sea is too cold for their survival around the British Isles. 

UK Turtle Code
BMLSS Turtles

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
MCS Turtle Report Forms
 

British Marine Life News 2011
 
 

Cornish Marine Life Records 2009
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