Marine Life News Bulletin

September 2013

ISSN  1464-8156

On-line connection to the British Marine Life Study Society web pages
Index for the Torpedo News Bulletins
Link to the forum for marine wildlife of the NE Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas
GATEWAY:  Further European Links
New EMail address
Link to the British Marine Life Study Society Facebook page
Courses (Marine Life)
Link to the Fishbase web pages
Marine Information Service
(Marine Life Information Network)
World Register of Marine Species
National Biodiversity Gateway
National Biodiversity Network
World Oceans Day
Link to Sealord Photography
Link to the Aphoto pages

Norwegian Marine***

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Silver Dolphin Centre, Helston, Cornwall

Link to the Porcupine Society web pages

Marine Life Society
South Australia ***

De Strandwerkgemeenschap

Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning

Marine Wildlife Reserve
Link to Jim Anderson's Scottish Nudibranch (and other sea slugs) web pages

7-14 years
Oakley Intertidal 
on facebook
Fish & Sharks of the 
NE Atlantic
New Photographic Gallery 
on flickr
Link to the Sealife Survey on facebook (Marine Biological Assoc. of the Uk.)
Link to Coastal Topography on flickr
Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
How to obtain the book and review



Monthly electronic news bulletin for the marine life of the NE Atlantic Oceans including the seas and seashore around the British Isles.
The bulletin is designed for Microsoft Internet Explorer using medium fonts at a resolution of 1024 x 768.
Subscribe and unsubscribe options are at the foot of this page.


Reports of marine wildlife from all around the British Isles, with pollution incidents and conservation initiatives as they affect the flora and fauna of the NE Atlantic Ocean

20 September 2013
Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus were spotted chasing Mackerel off the Outer Hebrides including one jumping out of the sea. 

19 September 2013
A rarely caught Skipjack Tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis (=Euthynnus), in English seas was accidentally stranded on a Devon beach near Budleigh Salterton. Leo Curtis and friend Ian Carrott had been fishing on the beach when they spotted the 60 cm long fish in 15 cm of water in the River Otter estuary. Skipjack are the smallest and most common of all the tunnies but they are native to tropical seas. This is the first record on the BMLSS News Pages.

"There have been angling catches of the south-west coast of Ireland and stranding reports on Scottish western island shores in the past."

BMLSS Tunnies

18 September 2013 
A rare female Sowerby's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon bidens, a mother with its calf, has died after it got into difficulty, on the remote shores of Hirta island in the St. Kilda archipelago. Rescuers managed to refloat the five metre long whale, but it later died. The calf found open water but it is unlikely to survive without its mother. This oceanic whale is rarely seen in British seas and strandings only occur in the extreme west near deep water. 

14 September 2013
Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis, suffered a horrible death after it was washed up alive on the sandy beach at at Waterfoot Pier, north-east County Antrim, south-east of Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. It was about nine metres in length so that indicated a sub-adult. 

Beached Sei Whale
Photographs & Report by Cathal McNaughton

Colour is spot on for a Sei Whale, dark leaden grey; fin had a very pale right side to the throat and this pattern is asymmetrical as is the colour of the baleen which looks evenly coloured here; the erect and 'shark-like' dorsal fin is classic, the Fin Whale tends to be much more swept back and streamlined looking. 

BMLSS Cetaceans

13 September 2013
Leatherback Turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, have been spotted off the south Cornish coast, notably a reported two metre long specimen in Falmouth Bay

Cornish Leatherback Turtles

The Leatherback Turtle is the largest of the turtles (Chelonii). Adults can attain over 1.8 metres (6 ft) in length and 680 kg (1,500 lb) in weight, but they are usually smaller. Leatherback Turtles breed on sandy beaches in the tropics but they are great travellers and can be found in the temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world where they feed almost exclusively on jellyfishes and gelatinous zooplankton (salps, hydrozoans etc.) captured with delicate scissor-like teeth. They can also accidentally consume floating plastic bags which will probably result in their death. Unlike other turtles its carapace is not a hard shell (exoskeleton), but is covered by a layer of rubbery skin strengthened by bony bits which makes it look leathery. The turtle discovered in Falmouth Bay probably swam across the Atlantic Ocean from a breeding site in Florida or elsewhere in the Caribbean
The IUCN classifies the Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, on the Red List as critically endangered.
IUCN Red Listing
BMLSS Turtle Reports

12 September 2013
Three True’s Beaked Whales, Mesolpodon mirus, were spotted around 100 km off the southwest coast of Ireland.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group has said photographs taken during a research expedition to the Porcupine Seabight area showed that they were almost certainly this rarely recorded species classified as a vagrant oceanic whale around the British Isles. Sighting records of this whale are only from off the west coast of Ireland and the Scottish islands. A Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, was also spotted on the of the eastern edge of the Porcupine Bight, which includes the Belgica Mound Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for deep water corals.

BMLSS Cetaceans

Early September 2013
A most extraordinary report of a Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis, was caught on rod and line off Dover Breakwater, Kent. This is an unusual report because this is a coastal anadromous fish native to the east American coast. 

Introductions of Morone saxatilis
5 - 6 September 2013
A Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, stranded alive on Torry Bay, near Crombie Point, Fife, in the Firth of Forth. The rescue attempts to save the four metre long juvenile whale were unsuccessful and the whale was euthanised. 

Late July 2013
Five newly born calves of the Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus, with their parents, were spotted off the Calf of Man, Isle of Man

Whales & Dolphins in British Seas (by Steve Savage)

Risso's Dolphin from the Isle of Man
showing the distinctive scarring on the body
Photograph by Tim Ellis

Risso's Dolphins can be distinguished from the latter by its grey body colouring which is often criss-crossed with white scars. Risso's Dolphins are usually solitary or found in small groups and are widely distributed from the western areas of the English Channel to the north of Scotland.
Whales & Dolphins in British Seas (by Steve Savage)


Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Mailing Groups

Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean 
Yahoo Group
New Group:

Link to the British Marine Life Study Society Facebook pageBritish Marine Life Study Society
facebook Page:

This Wall is now working properly and members can now post on it. This is designed for quick less important chatty news items. Photographs can be uploaded quickly which is only possible on the Yahoo Group by going to the web page.

Images can be uploaded to flickr.

Wet Thumb (Marine Aquariology) Forum Link
Lots of marine wildlife reports from Shetland on facebook
Photographs include undersea, sea mammals and birds. 
Click on the image to connect


All reports by Andy Horton unless the credits are given 
to other observers or reporters.

Cornish Marine Wildlife (Ray Dennis Records) 2009


Each month, at least one special marine image will be published from images sent to the BMLSS. This can be of the seashore, undersea world or any aspect of the marine natural world, especially the underwater life, but not restricted to life beneath the waves. Topical inclusions may be included instead of the most meritorious, and images will be limited to the NE Atlantic Ocean and adjoining seas, marine and seashore species and land and seascapes.

Northern Stone CrabLithodes maja
Photograph by Jim Greenfield

The Northern Stone Crab is a northern species found in the seas around Scotland including this specimen from the seas around St. Abbs Head, south-eastern Scotland. 

 Spider Crab, Maja brachydactyla  (=M. squinado)
Photograph by Andy Horton

The Spider Crab, Maja brachydactyla is southern species found in large numbers in the English Channel including this intertidal specimen at Shoreham-by-Sea
There has been considerable confusion between these two species. and records of this crab in Scottish seas need to be re-examined as they more likely to be Lithodes maja.

Maja brachydactyla was until recently considered to be conspecific with Maja squinado. Maja squinado has a Mediterranean distribution, while Maja brachydactyla is found in the northeast Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Scotland. (two species text by MarLIN)

BMLSS Maja Spider Crab

Click on the images for the original photographs


Shorewatch Biological Recording


Shore Topography Series

The name of the particular coast should be included and any other interesting information including the grid reference, if known. Print photographs can be included in Exhibitions and on the BMLSS Web Sites and electronic publications. Electronic images in *.jpg format can also be considered for the web site. They should not exceed 350K in size.

Boreray and Stac an Armin, St Kilda
Photograph by Annette Hepburn

An amazingly calm day for a trip around Boreray and the Stacs at St Kilda. Normally the waves are crashing up the rocks and you dare not go too close. This day was eerily hot, sunny and calm.

St. Kilda Gallery by Annette Hepburn

St. Kilda Gallery by Annette Hepburn

Click on the images for the original photographs

The remote islands of St Kilda
Montage Photographs by James Stringer

Rising from the sea floor as part of an ancient Tertiary volcano, the archipelago of St Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles, lies 41 miles (66 kilometres) west of the small island of Pabbay (in the Sound of Harris, Outer Hebrides), across the often wild Atlantic Ocean. The nearest inhabited island is of Benbecula

The seas surrounding these outlying islands are rich in fish that support the vast million strong colony of seabirds: Gannets, Puffins, Leach's Petrel, Guillemots, Fulmars and other sea birds that nest on the craggy rocky promontories. The highest sea cliffs of Britain, Conachair at 427 metres, rise from the depths on the largest island of Hirta.

In September 2013 Bluefin Tuna Thunnus thynnus were spotted chasing Mackerel between the Outer Hebrides and St. Kilda.

St Kilda was inhabited until 1930
29 September 2013
Norman John Gillies, the last St Kildan, has passed away in the morning. He had been unwell for some time.

Report by Martin Gray

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray.

Tuna Reports 2013

" We'd been cruising west for over a couple of hours into a seemingly endless ocean when the majestic outline of St. Kilda suddenly appeared through the mist like a huge castle on the horizon.  I’d seen many photos of it before, but none had prepared me for what I was about to witness.  At first it was difficult to get a sense of scale of the place as there are no features of known size to give reference.  The first clue however was the fact that for what seemed like ages it didn’t get any closer despite rapidly speeding towards it.  Then eventually it loomed big and tall in the sky before we turned into the shelter of Village Bay." 
from A Trip to St Kilda (by Marcus Macadam)

Sea Harris: Boat Trips to St Kilda

The precipitous Stac Lee
Photograph by Rhonda Surman

St Kilda Gallery by Rhonda Surman

Stac an Armin (191 metres) and Stac Lee (165 metres) are the highest sea stacks in Britain. 

Basking Sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, can seen around these remote islands
Photograph by Rhonda Surman

John Sands (1826–1900) of Ormiston was a Scottish freelance journalist and artist who also had an interest in archaeology and folk customs, especially the way of life on Scottish islands. He spent almost a year on St Kilda and lived on several other remote islands.
John Sands on St Kilda

Click on the images for the original photographs

British Coastal Topography

British Coastal Topography

First enquiry by EMail to

New EMail address


Photographers submitting pictures should indicate if they wish them to be considered for inclusion as confirming permission takes work and time and can delay publication of the news bulletins. 

Link to more marine life photographs

Click on the album for more links (On-line link)



In chronological order, the most recent events are at the top of the page. Events open to the public, free or for a nominal charge only are included. Most Seminars need to be booked in advance.

Link to the Porcupine Society web pages
For details of the Porcupine Marine Nature History Society meetings click on the link on the left


 Public Aquaria List
?  What to do if you find a stranded whale or dolphin  ?

If you find a LIVE stranded or injured whale or dolphin on the beach you must send for help QUICKLY. A whale or dolphin stranding is an emergency and the speed of response by a professional rescue team is perhaps the most crucial factor in determining whether or not an animal can be returned to the sea alive.

0300 1234 999
0300 1234 999
0131 339 0111
0845 201 2626
01534 724331
00 44 1481 257261

Would you know what to do if you found a whale stranded on a beach?

Each year anywhere between five and 50 whales, dolphins and porpoises are washed up on Britain's beaches.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue, a volunteer charity, was set up in 1998 to rescue them.

BBC News Report

01825  765546







Series: Collins Complete Guide
Collins Complete Guide to British Coastal Wildlife
Paul Sterry and Andrew Cleave
384 pages, approximately 1600 colour photos
Harper Collins

List price is £17.99   Offers available

This comprehensive guide contains all the information for the the beginner seashore enthusiast and plenty for the experienced rockpooler, snorkeller and seashore visitor to make it an essential and first or second choice purchase.

A full review will appear in the November issue of Torpedo

Popular Guide Books (Link)

Links to the online fish key


Publisher: marine scotland

Scotland's Marine Atlas

Scotland's Marine Atlas is an assessment of the condition of Scotland's seas, based on scientific evidence from data and analysis and supported by expert judgement.

Click on the image for the free publication

Published: 27 March 2013 
ISBN (EPUB): 9781782564485 
ISBN (MOBI): 9781782564478 

EBook Reader Software (Adobe Digital Editions)
Change the font size to small for square monitors.


This is a book about an ocean that vanished six million years ago: the ocean of Tethys, named after a Greek sea nymph.  The oceans are important to climate and environment, and therefore to life on Earth. The story of Tethys is also a story of extinctions, and floods, and extraordinary episodes such as the virtual drying up of the Mediterranean, before being filled again by a dramatic cascade of water over the straits of Gibraltar. 
Click on the image for a review of this book

Dorrik Stow
300 pages, 15 b/w illustrations and maps.
Oxford University Press
ISBN-13: 9780199214297

A Field Guide to Marine Fishes of Wales and Adjacent Waters

by Paul Kay & Frances Dipper 
£19.95 incl. p&p
Soft cover

With 256 pages and numerous photographs supported by drawings, this book is the most comprehensive photographic guide to marine fish currently available in the UK. Published for the Marine Conservation Society with support from the Countryside Council for Wales.

Click on the image to order this book through the Marine Conservation Society


July 2010

PS: A second revised edition of the book has been published. 


Publisher: Graffeg
Publisher's Review (click on this text)
Review by the City and County of Swansea

This is the book I should have written (and I dare say a few others as well) and is a much needed introduction to the world of the seashore and the hobby of rockpooling. It is a photographic guide to most of the common species encountered which is much appreciated as newcomers and even experienced rockpoolers will try and match up what they have seen to a visual image (and photographs work better than line drawings) and this will usually get them the correct species, (unless there are two very alike species and then you will need a specialist identification guide like the Collins Guide to the Seashore).

However, the seashore is a rich and interesting habitat with a myriad of species and 225 pages of this large pocket guide are comprehensively covered to suit the enthusiast.

Extract from the foreword by Keith Hiscock:
"Being able to names to what you see and, better still, to use your observations to add to our knowledge about the natural world is what this book is about."

But the book for a popular audience is more than this. It starts from the assumption that the parents and teachers and older children are unfamiliar with the seashore environment.


by Andy Horton (August 2010)

Oakley Intertidal on Facebook

BMLSS Guide Books

June 2009

My larger shrimp net, the same design that appeared on River Walks

The Edible Seashore (River Cottage Handbook No. 5)
by John Wright was published

Not just a cookery book: you have to go down to the shore and catch or collect the food yourself. The 240 page hardback book (with an index) is exceptionally well produced in quality of the binding, paper as well as the quality of writing, information and clear useful colour photographs. It is well organised into nine chapters:

Conclusion: Highly recommended, essential purchase ***** (highest five star rating).

BMLSS Shrimping

Marine Fisheries Science Yearbook  2010

Publisher:  defra

Click on this text

Sharks in British Seas

Richard Peirce
138 pages, colour illustrations, line drawings, colour & b/w photos.
Lots of newspaper reports.

Publisher:  Shark Cornwall
Softcover | 2008 | £9.99

ISBN: 978-0-955869402 

by Lucy Beckett-Bowman

Consultant: Andy Horton
Usborne Publishing   £3.99

Usborne Beginners Series
Level One (very young children)

ISBN 978-0-7460-8864-7

BMLSS Notes for a Primary School Teacher

Whales & Dolphins
of the European Atlantic
The Bay of Biscay, English Channel, Celtic Sea and coastal SW Ireland
by Dylan Walker and Graeme Cresswell
with the illustrations by Robert Still
WILDGuides  2008
£ 12.00 (includes standard UK P&P)
ISBN:  978-1-903657-31-7

This is the second fully revised and updated edition of this comprehensive guide to the identification of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) in the European Atlantic. Until very recently, most researchers and whale-watchers were unaware of the great variety of cetaceans that can be seen so close to the shores of western Europe. Indeed, it is only during the last decade, when detailed cetacean surveys have been carried out in earnest, that we have discovered how important this area is for cetacean biodiversity.

This field guide describes all of the 31 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise that have occurred in the European Atlantic.

BMLSS Cetacean Book Reviews

(Collins New Naturalist) (Paperback)
by Peter Hayward
Collins 2004

ISBN:  0-00-220031-7

Amazon Web Site

Paperback. Pp 288. Colour & b/w photographs, illustrations, charts, maps and bibliography. Fine copy. "New Naturalist" Seashore is a comprehensive, authoritative account of the natural history of the seashore.

BMLSS General Guides
BMLSS Advanced Guides


Working to reduce Marine Pollution and to help the birds caught in it
Quarterly Newsletter
Registered Charity  803473


Decision-making in Marine Mammal
Rescue and Rehabilitation

Eastern English Channel Habitat Atlas for Marine Resource Management
is available for download from

Encyclopaedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland

Marine Fauna of Norway

WET THUMB (Marine Aquariology)

BMLSS: Marine Life Articles in Publications (Link)

The British Marine Life Study Society are responsible for producing the journal GLAUCUS, which is the first publication exploring the marine life of the seas surrounding the British Isles available to the general public. In future, I expect the publication to be in an electronic format. 
    We also publish the SHOREWATCH Newsletter and
    the TORPEDO Electronic News Bulletin.

    The Glaucus 2002 CD-ROM was sent out to Premier BMLSS members in January 2003.

EMail Address

New EMail addressEMail address for messages to the British Marine Life Study Society 


Membership 2012
Plans have not yet been finalised for the publications and subscriptions for year 2011. Back copies of previous issues are still available. 

Bulletin Details

For technical reasons, TORPEDO is no longer being sent out by EMail. It is simply easier to view the bulletins on the web pages.

To save download times, only new images are included with each Bulletin.
The Bulletin is designed to be viewed on Internet Explorer using medium fonts at a resolution of 1024 x 768. 
Viewing should be possible on Mozilla and other browsers.

Printing the two column version of Torpedo (from issue 28)

These pages are not designed for the default settings on the Page Set-ups of your browser. I recommend viewing in Microscope Internet Explorer and altering the right and left hand columns in the Page Set-up menu to 9 mm (from 19 mm).
The page set-up can also be amended in other web page editors.

Torpedo compiled by Andy Horton
Background design by Andy Horton and other contributors
     27 September 2013
Addenda 2 October 2013
Copyright  2013   ©    British Marine Life Study Society 
Compiled on Netscape Composer 4.6 and other programs