MARINE LIFE NEWS 2014

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 2014

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Winter 2014 News Reports, January - March
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LATEST NEWS: 

30 December 2014


Dealfish
Photographs by Senga Millar

An adult Dealfish (Ribbonfish family), Trachipterus arcticus, was spotted actually swimming offshore in Scapa Flow at Bu in Orphir, Mainland, Orkney. "It was alive as we watched it swim inshore then we went back down with the camera it was on the rocks." Alas, this large 150 x 30 cm (5 ft x 1 ft) and rather distinctive silvery fish, with a long bright orange dorsal fin, perished as would be expected out of its normal deep sea  environment. This unusual fish usually lives at depths of over 300 metres. 

Previous Report 2014
BMLSS Strandline
BMLSS Beachcombing facebook
NAFC Marine Centre: Dealfish

26 December 2014

A large stranding of Heart Urchins, or Sea Potatoes, Echinocardium cordatum, occurred off the west coast of Scotland on including Troon and also Prestwick Beach. They were not freshly dead as the tests had lost their spines. The tests washed ashore in the gales. 


24 December 2014

A virtual skeleton of a Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, was discovered washed up on a beach at Tarbet in the North West Highlands of Scotland.


21 December 2014
Two young Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, were discovered on the shore near Formby on Merseyside and Cumbria's Walney Island, north-west England on coasts facing the Atlantic Ocean. The critically-endangered turtles usually inhabit the Gulf of Mexico, but may have been "cold-stunned" by a drop in ocean temperatures. These young turtles were still alive but in poor condition. 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 suffered in the cold seas and would have succumbed if they had not been rescued. 

Another one was washed up starving and dying on the Dutch coast at Den Helder Beach BMLSS Turtles

20 December 2014
A huge wreck of jellyfish and pelagic jellyfish-like animals occurred on the north coast of Cornwall with tens of thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, washed ashore on various shores, and a thousand plus Mauve Stinger Jellyfish, Pelagia noctiluca, at Sennen Cove, Watergate Bay and Fistral Beach (Newquay). The stranding also included thousands of Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera.

BMLSS Jellyfish
BMLSS Beachcombing
BMLSS Barnacles

18 December 2014

 

An Ivory Gull, Pagophila eburnea, visited the carcass of a Cuvierís Beaked Whale at Benbecula
Photograph by Yvonne Benting
Birdguides Report

 
Another Cuvierís Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was stranded dead at Borve Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. 


13 December 2014
A five metres long female Cuvierís Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was stranded dead at Portballintrae in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The whale was underweight. Cuvier's Beaked Whales are a deep water species and are not usually observed from the shore and strandings are infrequent.

 
Another Cuvierís Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was stranded dead on Frobost Beach in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. BMLSS Cetacea
Whales & Dolphins in British Seas

9 - 10 December 2014

New Brighton, Merseyside, on the high tide
Photograph by Ade McCabe

An explosive cyclogenesis, known colloquially as a "weather bomb", hit northern England and Scotland, produced gigantic waves (up to 18 metres over open water in the Atlantic) and swell, storm force winds and excessive thunder and lightning especially over Scotland. A wind speed of 144 mph was recorded on the outlying islands of St. Kilda off the west of Scotland.


8 December 2014

Diminutive Goby
Photograph by George Brown

A miniature (25 mm) goby, a female Lebetus scorpiodes, known as the Diminutive Goby, was photographed on silt covered bedrock on a night dive at Wolf Rock, in Loch Duich, western Scotland. This goby is rarely recorded because it it is small and overlooked with a local distribution in seas around the British Isles. 

BMLSS Gobies

5 December 2014
A two metres long Shortfin Mako Shark*, Isurus oxyrinchus, was washed ashore dead on the vast sandy shore at Barmouth, Cardigan Bay, west Wales. (* ID not 100%).

Barmouth Shark
Photographby Harry Allday



Identification of the the Mako and Porbeagle, Lamna nasus, is difficult and I determined it to be the rarer Mako from the shape of the first dorsal fin lacking a white patch. It is difficult because of the pointed snout and position of the secondary dorsal fin I first thought it was a Porbeagle. Teeth may indicate a Porbeagle?
Porbeagle & Mako ID
BMLSS Sharks

The post-mortem confirmed the identification as a Mako Shark and the stomach contents contained the remains of a Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena

Shark, Head and Teeth
Photograph on the flickr gallery hosted by Hugh Griffith Roberts

Shane Huxter found a blue-coloured Velvet Swimming Crab* (Lady Crab in Guernsey), Necora puber, in Belle Greve Bay, on the east coast of Guernsey. 

Blue Velvet Swimming Crab (=Lady Crab), Necora puber
Photograph by Richard Lord
Sealord Photography

The shell colour of Necora puber is normally blue but the crab is usually covered in a fine brown 'hair' which gives it an olive-green colour. This individual's bright blue shell colour might be a genetic variation to the normal colour.

(*This crab if often known by other names, including the Devil's Crab.)

4 December 2014
 

Greater Forkbeard
Photographs by Traff Cammish

A Greater Forkbeard, Phycis blennoides, was discovered in a crab pot out of Bridlington, Yorkshire. The Greater Forkbeard is a fish normally found in deep water of over 100 metres and only abundant much further south. There is only one fish in the North Sea that has such elongated pelvic fins

Report by Traff Cammish


27 November 2014

Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps
Report & Photograph by Rohan Holt
facebook

The Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, washed up alive on Anglesey a week ago has now washed up dead at Dinas Dinlle Beach on the Welsh mainland coast, south-east of Anglesey. Cetacean experts were busy examining the corpse. 

This whale is classified as a Vagrant in the British Cetacean List.

25 November 2014

Derbio, Trachinotus ovatus
Report & Photograph by Matt Round
on Fishing News facebook

Pompano (also called a Derbio), Trachinotus ovatus, was caught off Plymouth. This is a warm water fish that is only rarely seen or caught in British seas, a moderately common shoaling fish in shallow water in areas of surge in the Mediterranean Sea and the adjacent Atlantic shores. This small fish (about 35 cm long) is found in clear waters over sand or mud bottoms in the surf zone and also caught by anglers from rocky shores from the Bay of Biscay southwards. 
Previous Record 2005

It is classified in the family Carangidae, known as Jacks and Pompanos. 

20 November 2014
Rescuers of a stranded cetacean on Newborough Beach, Anglesey, were surprised to discover a rare Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, washed up alive on the sand. At three metres long it still look a team of people to transport the whale to the sea where it swam off successfully into deeper water. The Pygmy Sperm Whale is found in tropical seas worldwide but there have only been about a dozen records in British seas, mostly strandings as this whale is not often seen from boats. 

BMLSS Cetacea
BMLSS Pygmy Sperm Whales

15 November 2014
Another Oceanic Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, was discovered on the rocks at Paignton, south Devon.


10 November 2014

Sea Hare and eggs
Photographs by Walter Low Fisher

A huge Sea Hare, Aplysia, laying eggs, was discovered at Belcroute on the south coast of Jersey. It weighed in at a massive 900 grams which ruled out the normal species Aplysia punctata found around the shores of Britain. Its huge bulk and appearance almost certainly means it is the southern species Aplysia fasciata which is only rarely recorded around the Channel Islands with at least one record off Cornwall and others from Devon and Dorset
BMLSS Aplysia

4 November 2014
A tropical Oceanic Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, was discovered washed up dead on Chesil Beach, Dorset, by Richard Fabbri, having been swept on to pebbles by the high tides. The fish was 30 cm along from head to the base of the caudal fin, but was actually longer than this because this fish inflates itself like a balloon to make it bigger to discourage predators. It does not make a good meal, especially for humans, because the fish more than likely contains a toxin tetrodotoxin sufficiently harmful enough to cause death to anyone eating the fish without expert culinary preparation. It is advisable not to even touch the fish.

Oceanic Pufferfish
Photograph by Richard Fabbri

The Oceanic Pufferfish is normally found in tropical seas and is a very rare and surprising discovery in the English Channel. 

Previous Report 2006
Poisonous Fish
BMLSS Beachcombing

In celebration of Earth Science Week, the Geological Society of London named its top 100 geological sites in the UK and Ireland, including 10 "people's favourites".

Geological Society: Final 100 List
Geological Society: Coastal List

11 October 2014

A splendidly marked Almaco Jack, Seriola rivoliana, was caught by angler Scott Shepherd from a boat out of Ilfracombe, North Devon. It was a large specimen weighing 1 lb 14 oz and it was returned to sea. This Caribbean fish is rarely recorded in British seas. 

BMLSS Amberjacks
 

9 October 2014

Aiptasiogeton pellucidus var. comatus
Photographs by Rob Durrant
on NE Atlantic Cnidaria on facebook

A tiny 6 mm long sea anemone was collected from Ilfracombe Beach, north Devon, from low down on the shore amongst some Kelp holdfasts and it was only noticed when the seaweed was placed in an aquarium. Its initial identity was a puzzle and it did not fit the appearance of any of the young or miniature versions of sea anemones normally found in the shallow seas around Devon. Only after a fortnight in captivity did the anemone settle down and discovered to be an anemone that was initially suspected that was so rarely recorded that none of the general marine life experts were familiar with the tiny species from personal experience. I am still not positive about the specific name. 

Notes on the montage:
Top left:  Disc and tentacles with a brownish-orange mouth. In contrast, all specimens from Brittany have a pink disc and tentacles.
Top right:  The white inside is a small piece of whitefish ingested.
Bottom right:  Acontia emitted from the mouth. 

Click on the image for the ongoing report and dialogue of the discovery.

Aiptasiogeton pellucidus var. pellucidus (Mer et littoral)
Aiptasiogeton pellucidus (R L Manuel)
Aiptasiogeton pellucidus (Marine Life Encyclopedia)
NE Atlantic Cnidaria on facebook

BMLSS Sea Anemones

5 October 2014

22 Spoonbills out of a flock of 31 (Photograph by John Dixon)

Flock of Spoonbills at Arne Bay, Poole Harbour
Photograph by John Dixon

An unprecedented 47 Spoonbills, Platalea leucorodia, were seen at Brownsea Island Lagoon, Dorset. The Spoonbills are thought to have flown in from Belgium and Holland where there is a breeding population. Their numbers grow every winter and have gradually increased up to this record tally. A juvenile (with a yellow bill) Great White Egret, Ardea alba, was also seen from Brand's Bay in Poole Harbour, Dorset. 

Birds of Poole Harbour
Brownsea Island Lagoon Reserve (and webcam)
Brownsea Island Nature Digest for October 2014
DWT Brownsea on Twitter
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT)

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