MARINE LIFE NEWS 2013

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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October - December 2013

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24 December 2013
Gales eroded the Dorset cliffs on the Jurassic Coast and uncovered a 1.5 metre (5ft) long ichthyosaur skeleton (in pieces) at the base of Black Ven near Charmouth. It was discovered by Richard Edmonds, who works for the Jurassic Coast world heritage site team. He found an unprecedented three ichthyosaur skeletons last year due to increased coastal erosion caused by bad weather. 

     
December 2013
Four animals previously unknown to science have been discovered in deep water off Scotland during surveys by Marine Scotland. All were discovered around Rockall, the rocky islet 260 miles (418 km) west of the Western Isles at a suspected cold seep at depths of up to one mile (1.6 km). The new gastropod mollusc Volutopsius scotiae and bivalve mollusc Thyasira scotiae have been named after the research vessel MRV Scotia. Another clam, Isorropodon mackayi, was named after mollusc expert David Mackay. The probable new species of marine worm Antonbrunnia has still to be named as a species.  Scotland's Marine Atlas
 

17 December 2013
A sub-adult Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was washed ashore dead at Splash Point, Worthing, Sussex in the afternoon. It was a rainy day and I cycled past this point west of the amusement pier, I noted a flock of twenty Crows on the shingle but I did not look down on the syenite rock sea defences or else I might have spotted it. Credit for the discovery goes to Andrew Cole who was photographing a landscape shot of the rocks in poor photographic conditions. This may be the first discovery of a Loggerhead Turtle off Sussex as it was unexpected and I have not got records of a previous discovery. The turtle was damaged with a missing flipper and it had died out at sea and had been washed along until landfall on to this small promontory.Shoreham Herald Report
Loggerhead Turtle (Photograph by Andrew Cole)
15 December 2013
Leucistic Lobsters, Homarus gammarus, and Spiny lobster/Crayfish/Crawfish, Palinurus elephas, housed in a commercial holding aquarium at Cushendall, County Antrim.

These larger than normal Lobsters (> 2 kg) were caught around Rathlin Island, (north of Ballycastle) Northern Ireland. 

Photographs by Cathal McNaughton on facebook

BMLSS Lobsters

10 December 2013
New shellfish regulations have been introduced in Scotland and the islands to protect and regulate the fisheries. A Designation Order identifying 84 waters as ‘shellfish water protected areas’ has been made.


8 December 2013
In the aftermath of the flooding on the east coast of England, seals were seen scattered all over the dunes of Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. Grey Seals, Halichoerus grypus, are with pups at this time of the year, but most seemed to be with their mothers, although a few were found dead and others isolated, which happens every year. 

BMLSS Seals

5 - 6 December 2013
A Storm Surge coinciding with a high spring tide caused floods and coastal erosion on the North Sea coast of England and some minor floods on the eastern English Channel shore. The environmental impact on wildlife seemed to be minimal but there were social consequences with homes flooded and some houses washed into the sea, notably at Hemsby, Norfolk, where the the soft cliffs collapsed. 

Hemsby Beach after the Storm Surge


Photograph by Alex George

Tidal Surge Aftermath Gallery
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Photograph by Cameron Self

Coastal Erosion in Norfolk Gallery
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Happisburgh Gallery

The elevated sea level was higher than the devastating floods of 1953 but the damage was much less because of improved sea defences and advanced warning

Environmental Agency Flood Damage Gallery
More Images of Norfolk Shore Erosion

22 & 25 November 2013

Dead Minke Whale on Cromer Beach
Photograph by Tom Insole on flickr

Two dead Minke Whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, were washed up, one each on the beaches of Cromer and Sea Palling on the Norfolk coast.


2 November 2013

A metre long Siberian Sturgeon, Acipenser baerii, was caught on rod and line by Peter Johnson off Greenhithe Pier in the River Thames estuary. It is was released back into the sea after capture. This species is native to the Ob river systems that flow into the Arctic Ocean, in Siberia. In its native habitat it is considered anadromous and able to migrate the sea and live in salt or brackish water. but it is mostly to be found in the freshwater reaches of these large rivers. Therefore, it has been found suitable for aquaculture and the pet trade and the most likely reason for its appearance is that was accidentally or deliberately released from a captive specimen. 
 

Siberian Sturgeon
Photographs by Peter Johnson

BMLSS Sturgeon 1
Previous Sturgeon Record 2013
 
 

20 October 2013
A deep water Greenland Shark, Somniosusmicrocephalus, was found freshly dead stranded at Embleton Bay in Northumberland. The three metres long female shark was recovered by staff of Newcastle University and held frozen at their Dove Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats. The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) retrieved the shark whilst carrying out demonstration necropsies for undergraduates at Newcastle University and transported it to the Natural History Museum in London, who have (Autumn 2014) completed preparing the shark as a specimen for the national collectionThis large species of shark (> 7 metres & 1,400 kg) is usually found at depths of 1000 metres in the Arctic and boreal Atlantic and is both rarely recorded around the British Isles and relatively little is known of its biology and bionomics. 


30 October 2013
A Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, spotted in the North Sea off the Norfolk coast is the first on written record. The whale spent most of the morning swimming about two miles out to sea between Winterton and Horsey.


October 2013
Blackfish, Centrolophus niger, was caught in the North Sea by Andrew Innes, skipper of "Daisy 2". 


This Blackfish usually inhabits water of over 100 metres deep, and the North Sea is shallower. It is unusual, but not unknown, for Blackfish to be caught in the North Sea. Main sightings in catches are from off west Scotland and off Ireland in deeper waters. The facebook page includes a few other reports. It is classified in the family Centrolophidae.
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