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World Oceans Day 2003



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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26 June 2003
I caught a Twaite Shad, Alosa fallax, from off the beach at Brighton.

Twaite Shad from Brighton (Photograph by Gareth Stephens)

Twaite Shad (click on the image for a closer look)

"It was about 48 cm long and like an oversized herring. Its scales were very large (I kept some as they came off easily on handling).

Report by angler Gareth Stevens

The Twaite Shad is a rare endangered migratory fish rarely caught in the English Channel. It is the commoner of the two shad species found in British waters. The other species is the Allis Shad, Alosa alosa
Both the Twaite Shad and the Allis Shad are listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annexes II and V of the Habitats Directive. They are protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
Further Information and Later Report

Pelagia noctiluca, Connemara, W. Ireland. Sept 1999 Jim Greenfield23 June 2003
There was a mass stranding of 500+  Mauve Stingers (small jellyfish), Pelagia noctiluca, at Porthcothan, Cornwall.This is the most unusual of the British species of pelagic jellyfish to wash up, but large swarms occur in years of abundance. 
Despite being a small jellyfish, it has a reputation as a stinger, in the Mediterranean.
Amongst the Sea Rocket, Orache etc, on the strandline, a Peanut Plant has taken root.

Pelagia Stings
Sea Beans page
BMLSS Jellyfish

22 June 2003
Photograph by Paul HarringtonWe captured a large Lobster, Homarus gammarus, off a Portland (Dorset) wreck which weighed about 5 kg, but it only had one claw. The human foot in the picture is size eleven. Specimens over 5 kg are only occasionally caught incidentally in other fisheries as large lobsters cannot get into the pots. They are often covered in keelworms.

Report by Paul Harrington
BMLSS Lobster Page
BMLSS Crustacea

20 June 2003
David Blackford reports an Ocean Sunfish, Mola mola, in St Ives Bay, Cornwall.  It was about a metre long, and think it is the first for the year. 

BMLSS Sunfish page

19 June 2003


Local shrimper Peter Talbot-Elsden, from Southwick (Sussex), has produced a small booklet called “Shrimping for Food and Fun” about catching the brown shrimp around the coasts of Britain. The shrimps are caught in nets and the book features the various methods, firstly the push-netting seen over the sand in shallow water in spring off the Sussex coast. The famous Morecambe Bay shrimps were originally captured by cart shanker shrimping with a horse and cart in deeper water off the Lancashire coast, later replaced by a tractor. At Formby, they experimented with amphibious vehicles after World War II. Nowadays, most commercial shrimping on the east coast around King’s Lynn trawls from small boats using a net off the stern. Shrimps are often cooked on board.

The 28 page book contains 40 photographs of shrimping through the ages. It is available through Bookworms of Shoreham and other booksellers and museums at £3.50. 
The booklet is also available through the British Marine Life Study Society, but at £4 including postage and packing. 

Peter Talbot-Elsden manned the shrimp display at Adur World Oceans Day.

15 June 2003
Whilst netting the River Hayle, Cornwall, at low water for sandeel bait, the first sweep brought a mixed bag of Greater Sandeels, Hyperoplus lanceolatus, and Lesser Sandeels, Ammodytes tobianus,plus quite a few Lesser Weevers, Echiichthys vipera. The unusual aspect was the large number of lice on the sandeel and free swimming in the bunt. Whilst ejecting the Weevers we noticed one fish had two lice stuck inside its mouth. My mate caught a louse and promptly let it go as it bit him. They were about 8 mm long. At this size they are only half the size of the adults. 

Parasitic isopods (Image by Treve Opie)

These are isopods (wood-lice) and expert Tammy Horton has confirmed that they are the parasitic species Ceratothoa steindachneri. Other Sand-eel netters have said that they have caught these parasites for years, which have to be removed as they are capable of killing the Sand-eels. 

Report by Treve Opie originally on the Cornish Mailing List
Link to Thumbnails (Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group)

14 June 2003
A jellyfish with a bell diameter of 45 cm and one metre long was spotted off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, at 7:00 pm. It was creamy white with a pink-blue rim so it was almost certainly the Barrel Jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus. These large jellyfish are only occasionally encountered off the Sussex coast. 

13 June 2003
We have had four separate incidents of Sandeel (family: Ammodytidae) mass mortality in Ramsey Bay, Isle of Man (a lump of rock in the middle of the Irish Sea) over the last two or three weeks. Two events co-incided with rising new moon springs and the most recent with rising full moon springs. There were no obvious causes and as with the events in other areas we can only speculate on the cause. The main question is why only these small fish? The mortalities were, not surprisingly, accompanied by frenzied gull activity.

A massive bloom of plankton has turned the seas around the Shetland Isles a turquoise colour, stretching at least 60 miles, almost the whole length of the islands, from Yell the second most northern island to Sumburgh Head the southernmost tip. The organism was the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi  which is responsible for vast blooms covering up to 40 thousand square miles of the oceans and can be seen from a space shuttle. Blooms this large can change the climate. This plankton bloom is non-toxic not thought to pose a threat to the salmon farms on the Shetlands.

News Report
Reference Book (see Chapter 6)
1999 Report of a bloom off Cornwall
    4 April 2003
    The second Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, of the year is washed up dead on Breasts Sands (a remote sandbank next to Terrington Marsh) on the southern coast of the Wash, East Anglia, to the west of King's Lynn. 
    Newspaper Report
    BMLSS Cetacea



The Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Forum commences. 



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