MARINE LIFE NEWS 2015

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
 
 

July - September 2015

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EVENTS:

25 July - 2 August 2015

Members of the public are invited to take part in dolphin, whale and porpoise surveys around the UK as part of the 14th National Whale and Dolphin Watch. The data collected during the event will help in developing a snapshot of the distribution of dolphins, whales and porpoises around the UK. This is an opportunity for everyone to become involved in the research which goes into understanding and protecting these magnificent creatures.
Sea Watch Foundation
 


LATEST NEWS: 

September 2015
Bren Whelan captured some rare video footage of a Basking Sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, jumping clear of water off Malin Head, Donegal. 

BMLSS Basking Sharks

September 2015

False Catshark
Scottish Tagging Programme Image

A deep water species of shark was caught in Scottish seas by scientist from Marine Scotland. The False Catshark sometimes known as a Sofa Shark, Psuedotrakias microdon, is the 72nd species of elasmobranch recorded from around Scotland. The 2 metre long 60 kg shark was caught close to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. This bottom dwelling shark would be normally be expected to live at depths of 1000 metres or more. 

Scottish Shark Tagging Programme  facebook

22 September 2015
A huge Atlantic Halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, was caught in Andfjorden, north Norway, by Reed Marianne, which weighed in at 270 kg (595 lb). The report did not give the length but the photograph showed it to be over 3 metres in length. This may be a new record weight Halibut caught on rod and line. 

BMLSS Halibut
BMLSS Large Halibut File Notes

9 September 2015

Fractured Limestone Cliff at Portland
Photograph by Diana Sergent

If you look closely at the photograph, you will realise why the footpath is closed to the public. Large parts of the limestone cliff are imminently liable to collapse into the sea. 
Click on the image for more photographs by Diana Sergent. facebook

A large section of the cliff near Westcliff, on the Isle of Portland, on the Dorset coast suddenly crumbled into the sea. Ominous cracks on the limestone cliff had been seen for sometime before the cliff collapsed suddenly. The Jurassic Coast of Dorset is prone to erosion and landslides

Portland Geology
West Cliff Geology
Pictures of Portland  facebook

31 August 2015
Two Beluga Whales (=White Whale), Delphinapterus leucas, were spotted and videoed by Deb Powis off Warkworth Beach, on the Northumberland coast, north-east England.


28 August 2015
A vagrant Red-billed Tropicbird, Phaethon aethereus, made an extremely rare visit to Cornwall and this pelagic sea bird, widespread over tropical seas, was seen from Gwennap Head on the extreme southernmost tip of Cornwall for five minutes by a dozen birdwatchers. Reports of this bird occur less than once a year from over British seas. 


24 August 2015
A spectacular and very rare sighting of the a Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus, occurred over very deep water 250 miles off the Irish coast was made from the RRS James Cook on a a five week scientific expedition in the NE Atlantic. "The largest creature on the Earth surfaced from the murk of a deep-sea canyon, lingered just long enough for observers to grab a few pictures, and then vanished from sight into the fog and rain." This was only the fourth sighting in the seas surrounding the British Isles since these great whales were hunted to near extinction nearly a century ago.  The Blue Whale was spotted by the oceanographers over the Whittard Canyon which varies from 200 m to 4000m in depth and is an important little explored biodiversity route from the very deep sea to the Continental Shelf. A previous scientific sonar record had discovered the presence of Blue Whales off Fastnet in 2000. There were twenty Fin Whales, Balaenoptera physalus, including seven seen around the research vessel when the Blue Whale surfaced. The survey team also recorded a Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, several hundred metres below the surface using ROV Isis

Blog of the Expedition
Submarine Canyons
Previous Sighting 2012
BMLSS Cetacea

22 August 2015
A shoal of over five hundred Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus, was spotted off the coast of Cornwall. The shoal was spotted by Duncan and Hannah Jones who described the sea as heaving with these large predatory fish. British fishing vessels would not be allowed to target this protected species but French or Spanish vessels might be able to land them legally. A shoal of this size has not been seen for over 50 years. Tunnies, or Tuna, used to be  found in sufficient numbers to make the North Sea, especially off Scarborough, an area famous for captures of the massive Blue-fin Tunny. Their current decline since the early 1960ís was because of low recruitment rates (whether natural or because of overfishing).

BMLSS Tunnies

c 20 August 2015
A 1.5 metre (5 ft) long Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was seen off St. Bees Head, Cumbria, during assessment work for a new nuclear power station planned to be built in the area.

BMLSS Turtles

17 August 2015
A rather unusual sea bird encounter occurred over Agger, Denmark, when a pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles, Haliaeetus albicilla, attacked a vagrant Black-browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys, which managed to escape predation.


16 August 2015
 

Angel Shark
about to be returned to the sea
Photographs by Michael Griffiths

A large two metre long (including the long tail) Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, was caught by Michael Griffiths on road and line off Shell Island, north Wales. This very rare and protected shark is thought to be extinct in the English Channel and still extremely rare in Cardigan Bay.

Previous Report 2015
BMLSS Squatina  facebook

30 July 2015
A Beluga Whales (=White Whale), Delphinapterus leucas, was spotted and videoed by George Watson swimming close to shore near Dunseverick, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. This Arctic species is rarely (one every three years) recorded around the British Isles. (Not all records are shown on the BMLSS News pages.)

Previous BMLSS Report 2005

July 2015
Basking Sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, are seen every year off the western shores of the British Isles as the they follow the plankton on which they feed in enormous quantities. 

Dorsal Fin of a Basking Shark, St. Kilda
Photograph by Jim Frost

Basking Shark Scotland reported fifty of these huge sharks off the Hebrides in a day's sailing. 

BMLSS Basking Sharks
 

July 2015
With large numbers of jellyfish recorded washed up and in the shallow seas around the British Isles, there were also numerous sightings of the Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, which feeds on jellyfish and other medusa. The photographed Sunfish was caught off Dorset. 
Barrel Jellyfish Reports

19 July 2015
A Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, with a measured weight of 123 kg was caught on road and line by Dai Pig off Milford Haven and the measurements made it the largest recorded Thresher Shark angled off Wales. It was returned to the sea.

BMLSS Thresher Sharks

July 2015
The "low bushy blows from a snow-white Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae," was reported by skipper Pat Collins and crewman Gerard Minihane about 14 miles off Baltimore, West Cork, south coast of Ireland  The whale surfaced close to their fishing vessel.


16 July 2015
A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was spotted at sea near the Skerryvore Lighthouse, (12 miles SW of Tiree), Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

BMLSS Turtles

15 July 2015

Starry Smooth-hounds
Photographs by George Heath
Selsey & Medberry Blog

An exceptional sighting of a group of over fifty sharks seen in a shallow sandy pool at RSPB Medmerry, near Selsey, West Sussex, were seen on a rising tide in the morning. The pack of adult sharks were identified as Starry Smooth-hounds, Mustelus asterias, and many of these predatory sharks was about up to 1.5 metres (5 ft) in length, and with the typical triangular shark fins sticking out of the knee-deep water. The consensus opinion that this was a hunting pack that had possibly followed prey into the shallow water and got trapped at low tide. 


12 July 2015
An extremely rare vagrant, a Black-browed Albatross, Thalassarche melanophrys, made an unexpected to visit to RSPB Minsmere, Suffolk. It was likely that the albatross was blown off course. This large pelagic bird is globally endangered and normally found over the southern oceans, and breeds on various islands throughout this extensive region. 

9 July 2015
Thousands of Moon Jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, were washed ashore at Westward Ho! north Devon. And probably in other places on the rocky shore facing the Atlantic Oceans. It was a prelude to numerous strandings all around the British coasts, depending on which way the wind was blowing. 

Moon Jellyfish
Photograph by Thiago Bosque


 

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