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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For more reports click on the seasonal buttons below:

Link to the News Reports, October to December 2006



14 December 2006
At Sennen, Cornwall, two species of Violet Sea-snails, Janthina janthina and Janthina pallida, as well as two sea beans Entada gigas and Caesalpina bondoc were discovered on the strandline.

Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk
on the Cornish Mailing List
BMLSS Beachcombing

1 - 9 December 2006
The prevailing winds of autumn and the recent gales have washed more unusual pelagic animals on to the shore (with the millions of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, and multiple thousands of Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera) notably the small (size of a 10 pence piece) pelagic Columbus Crabs, Planes minutus, with five discovered on the Dorset coast at Southbourne (near Bournemouth) and a further 15 at Hengistbury Head, Dorset. The latter was discovered inside a large shipworm-riddled, Teredo, pole in cavities created by the tiny burrowing mollusc. The Columbus Crabs were found with the Goose Barnacles and there are clues that the buoys, wooden pallets, fish boxes etc. have been floating around the Atlantic Ocean for two years or more and are American in origin. The live crabs were placed in the aquarium at the Foundation Marine Centre at Kimmeridge

Report by Steve Trewhella
Previous Report from the Channel Islands
Previous Report from Belgium

2 December 2006
My dog discovered a strange fish partially buried on the North Gare Sands, Hartlepool, (near the power station) part of the Teesmouth National Nature Reserve; the fish was one metre long, 30 cms wide and laterally very thin with a tapering tail. I have identified this fish as a Deal Fish, Trachipterus arcticus

Report by Colin Hatch
The Deal Fish is a deep sea fish which very occasionally is washed up on the shore. 
Previous Report

November 2006
At least two specimens of the large pelagic swimming crab known as Henslow's Swimming Crab, Polybius henslowii, were brought in by a commerical fishman from Poole Bay. This crab is an active predator of small fish and is usually found over deep water further south. The same weather conditions which have brought in the By-the-wind Sailors are likely to have blown this crab into the shallow bay. 

Report by Steve Trewhella

26 November 2006

Velella (Photograph by Helen Lee)

Thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were washed up on Welsh beaches, notably a narrow but continuous line of Velella velella washed up on the high tide mark at Borthwen, Rhoscolyn, Anglesey (southern end of Ynys Cybi - Holy Island), north Wales (Ian Wright); literally thousands stranded on a small bay at the Mumbles, Swansea (Jess Pitman); a swarm amounting to about two hundred were washed up on Porthllysgi beach off the coast of St. Davids in south west Wales (Eleri Davies) with hundreds, possibly thousands, stranded and dead on the pebbles on the nearby Newgale Beach (Helen Lee); thousands, if not millions, of By-the-wind Sailors were washed up on a beach at Criccieth (on the southern coast of the Lleyn Peninsula), Gwynedd, north Wales (Eilir Daniels); and an armada, a thick layer of jellyfish about a metre thick on the strandline in both directions at Cefn Sidan Beach at Pembrey, south west Wales (Bella).
BMLSS Velella

19 November 2006
An extraordinary report of an Oceanic Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, discovered washed up dead on the shore by Christopher and Morwenna Smart at Treyarnon Bay, near Padstow, on the north coast of Cornwall. 
"At first I thought it was a plastic toy fish, but then realised it was real and so we carried it home in an old fishbox we found. It was a really beautiful fish, blue, silver and white with a green stripe through its eye and quite different from fish we normally see around here."
There were also By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, washed up.

Report from the Western Morning News

In the period 31 October 2005 to  8 December 2006 there were seven Oceanic Pufferfish recorded in Cornwall, compared to 17 in Cornwall and about 40 in the whole of Britain and Ireland from about 1760 to 2004.  In this same 13 months there were three found stranded in Ireland and three caught by French fishermen in Biscay.

This is the first confirmed report of an Oceanic Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, on these Marine Life News web pages. There have been unconfirmed reports of live ones seen briefly by divers. This fish is a common pelagic species of sub-tropical and tropical seas worldwide. 

15 September 2006
Fisherman Geoff Blake was stunned when he discovered an unusual 30 cm long fish in his regular morning catch off Ventnor, southern Isle of Wight. The fish was  identified* by the fishermanas the first ever Lesser Amberjack, Seriola fasciata, to be found in British seas. All four of the Amberjacks of the North Atlantic Ocean are vagrants in British seas and there are only 17 confirmed records of the other three species. This fish was caught in 6 metres of water, just 200 metres from the shore. 
(*Identity to be confirmed. These fish are difficult to identify, sometimes requiring a count of the gill rakers. Recent fish caught have been the Almaco Jack, Seriola rivoliana.)

2004 Amberjack Report
BMLSS Amberjack Notes

13 September 2006
A vagrant Atlantic Tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis, was caught in a stake net on
the banks of the River Severn near Newport. The fish is now in the National Museum and Galleries of Wales with the Curator of Vertebrates, Peter Howlett.
This tropical fish is likely to be the first one ever caught in British seas. 

31 August - 1 September 2006
A pair of Northern Bottle-nosed Whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus, were washed up alive on the Lincolnshire coast (North Sea east coast of England) and despite strenuous attempts by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue using pontoons to float the whales, the female died on the scene, and the male towed 1.2 km out ot sea and seen to swim away, was found washed up dead at Seacroft, near Skegness,  on the second day. Previous Stranding in London

13 - 14 August 2006

Buoy Barnacles on White Park Bay beach (north Antrim)
Photograph by Dave Harrison

Large numbers of Buoy Barnacles, Dosima fascicularis, were found stranded on the north coast beaches of Northern Ireland, e.g. Portstewart Strand and White Park Bay (County Antrim). There were at least six of these batches seen on the White Park Bay beach during the walk

Buoy Barnacles are attached to floats that they had secreted that have a texture like that of expanding foam.

BMLSS Barnacles

c. 9 August 2006
A vagrant 18 kg (40 lb) Big-eyed Tuna, Thunnus obesus, was a rare capture by a commercial net fisherman 70 miles off Land's End and 2,000 miles adrift of its usual habitat in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It is only the third capture on record from British seas.

BMLSS Tunnies

7 August 2006
Peter Dent spotted a two metres long Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, (58 lb = 26 kg) thrashing about in his salmon net a mile off Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland (north-east England). Because of its size and the damage it was causing the fish had to be killed. 

Peter Dent (with Phillip and Imogen) and the Swordfish (Photograph by Alan Charlton)

Peter Dent with the Swordfish
Photograph by Alan Charlton
Northern Federation of Sea Anglers Society (NFSAS)

This is the first recent record of a Swordfish being caught off the British mainland coast, although there have been both sightings and Swordfish washed ashore dead this century. This fish was thought have to have been following the Mackerel shoals. 

BBC News Report
Notification from Doug Herdson, (National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth.)
BMLSS Swordfishes

3 - 7 August 2006

Bouy Barnacles (Photograph by Alison)

Buoy Barnacles from Connemara
Photograph by Alison

Thousands of the stalked Buoy Barnacles, Dosima fascicularis, are washed ashore on the beaches of Connemara, County Galway, south-west Ireland. They were stranded all along the west coast of Ireland. 

Report and Photograph by Alison
BMLSS Barnacles

17 June 2006

Swordfish (Photograph by Paul and Angie Symons)

Admidst so much excitement that the camera could be found immediately, a three metres long (including the sword) Broad-billed Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, swam past our dive boat off the south coast of Devon, off Teignmouth (near the wreck of the Galicia). 

Report by Jackie Hazel & Paul Fenton (Tiger Charters)
Photograph by Paul and Angie Symons

In neither case above was the precise species of swordfish identified, it is assumed from other confirmed records as the most likely species. 

8 June 2006
World Oceans Day was first declared as 8th June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Adur World Oceans Day

7 June 2006
The largest* Atlantic Halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus, ever recorded was caught and landed by professional net fisherman Rolf Larsen (62 years old), at Stamsund, Lofoten, Norway (within the Arctic Circle but with seas warmed by the Gulf Stream). This massive fish weighed 282 kg and would have probably weighed 290 kg when first caught. The difference was because of the loss of blood after capture. Its total length was 262 cm. The fish was sold for display.

Nettavision News Report (with a photograph)

(* My current information has the previous largest as 266 kg and 365 cm long.)

BMLSS Halibut
BMLSS Large Halibut
Halibut (Wikipedia)

28 April 2006
An extremely interesting report of three Sea Horses, Hippocampus hippocampus reported by Southwick (West Sussex) fishermen; the fishermen say they are the first caught for several years and other fishermen are reporting them in their fixed nets several miles offshore. The identity of these fish has not been verified personally, but Sea Horses are known to be rarely captured from the Sussex coast.

Hearsay Report by Peter Talbot-Elsden
BMLSS Seahorses
27 April 2006
The small crustacean on the right was discovered on the shore at Eastbourne, Sussex.

This is Alpheus, the Snapping Prawn and not Axius. Note the absence of the triangular plate that extends to a minor rostrum between the eyes. It is Alpheus macrocheles, a scarce species found on the south coast of the British Isles (in British seas). 

ID help from the CRUST-L Forum

13 April 2006
My diving work boat Scavenger was engaged in mooring recommissions in the bay (natural harbour ) named Cove on the South side of St Agnes, in the Isles of Scilly, when Jolene Allsop, a professional diver working with me, disturbed a Puffer Fish at rest in a heavily kelped underwater marker buoy at about three metre depth and with very good visibility (in excess of 15 metres). Jo has seen Puffer Fish before in tropical waters and was able to observe this 15 cm fish long enough to have no doubt as to it's identity. 

The vagrant Oceanic Puffer Fish species rarely seen in British seas is Lagocephalus lagocephalus

14 March 2006

A Deal Fish, Trachipterus arcticus, was captured in a trawl (by Swedish trawler GG 348) at a depth of 200 metres in the northern Skagerrak off the south coast of Norway. The fish weighed 12 kg and was measured with a total length of 177 cm. The photograph above shows Swedish fishmonger Svante Wedin with the elongate fish.

The Deal Fish is a rare deep water fish with only a handful of North Sea coast reports of this fish on record

26 February 2006
A two metre long Deal Fish, Trachipterus arcticus, was reported caught by 16 year old angler Vibeke Thomasson at Sørevågen, Utsira, Norway. The full report includes a photograph showing the red dorsal fin.
Full Report
Another 1993 Report (in Swedish)

21 February 2006
A new record weight Angler Fish, Lophius piscatorius, weighed in at 78 kg with a total length of 164 cm, was captured in a net by Øystein Øye, from off Norway. 

15 February 2006
Another Sperm Whale, Physeter catodon, was spotted near North Shore Road, Skegness (Lincolnshire) on the North Sea coast during the morning high tide. It was clear that it was dead after the tide receded. 

Head of the Sperm Whale on Skegness Beach
Photograph by Karla Ryder (Wymeswold)

The Natural History Museum took photos and limited samples of two dead Sperm Whales, Physeter catodon, in the Wash. Paul Jepson visited the one at Skegness, quite decomposed, a male, 14 metres in length. This means at least four Sperm Whales have been washed up on the East Anglian coast of Britain in February 2006.

BDMLR Forum Extra Information
Skegness Humber Whale Report
UK Cetnet (Yahoo Group)
BMLSS Cetacea

It is the tenth anniversary of the Sea Empress Tanker spillage at Milford Haven.
British Oil Spills

12 February 2006

Bass with a blunt head (Photograph by David Wilkinson)

Bass with a blunt head 
Photograph by David Wilkinson

This most extraordinary looking Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, was caught off the coast of Guernsey, tagged and returned to the sea. Its blunt head looks like that of the Pagrus Sea Bream and several other fish. This Bass weighed an estimated 4.5 kg. 

Report by David Wilkinson via Richard Lord (Guernsey)

4 February 2006
A ten metre long Sperm Whale, Physeter catodon, became stranded as the tide receded on the Humber estuary mud off Kilnsea, on Spurn Point, East Yorkshire. It was first spotted alive at about 10:00 am blowing in the shallow water. It quickly died as it was left clear of water on the low tide at 3:00 pm

UK Cetnet (Yahoo Group)
Organisation Cetacea
BMLSS Cetacea

21 January 2006
A Boar Fish, Capros aper, is washed up alive on at Branksome Chine, Dorset (near Bournemouth). It was thrown back in the sea but it may get washed up again.

Boar Fish (Photograph by Robert Aquilina)

This attractive deep water fish is very occasionally washed up alive or found in rock pools and very occasionally caught by anglers. 

Report and Photograph by Robert Aquilina (Oxford Brookes University)
via Julie Hatcher (Secret Life at Low Tide)
and Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth

NB:  Although very tricky to keep and only recommended for advanced marine aquarists' these fish make fascinating aquarium fish. 
BMLSS Boar Fish
Wet Thumb (Marine Aquarium Study)

20-21 January 2006
A four tonne 5.8 metres long immature female Northern Bottle-nosed Whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus, swam up to central London and was seen as far upstream as Lambeth Bridge, Westminster, (within sight of the Houses of Parliament). Three adult whales were spotted east of the Thames Barrier the day before and at 8:30 am a man on a train spotted a whale in the Thames out of the train window. Rescue attempts by British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the authorities are being directed to persuading the whale to reverse direction and swim back out to sea and to avoid any further collisions with boats. This is the first time a whale had been seen so far upstream since records began in 1913.

On the second day, the whale looked in a poor condition and showed no sign of returning to the open sea. A decision was taken (by the BDLMR and authorities) to make an improvised pontoon, crane the whale on to it and tow the unfortunate sea mammal back out to the Thames estuary. The prognosis was poor. The whale died at 7:00 pm.
BDMLR Report & Chronology

BMLSS Cetacean Reports 2006

BMLSS Strandings Page (What to do if you discover a stranded cetacean?)

16-17 January 2006
Twenty four egg cases of the endangered Skate, Dipturus (=Raja) batis, were  discovered on the shore near the Dounreay nuclear power plant, Caithness, west of Thurso and Scrabster Harbour and John o'Groats on the northernmost coast of mainland Scotland, the first records reported to the Shark Trust and the first records on the mainland Scotland since these egg case occurrences have been recorded. 

Egg Cases of the Common Skate

The egg cases measured between 23 to 28 cm long and 13 to 16 cm wide in a dried state. 

Report by Paula Gent with photographs by Davey Benson

Egg Capsules of Rays & Sharks (Link to the Web Pages)
BMLSS Mermaid's Purses
January 2005 Report

6 -30 January 2006
A friendly Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, visited Maryport Harbour, Cumbria, on the Solway estuary in north-west England. Fishermen say the dolphin, nicknamed Marra, has been following them off Workington since summer and has always been on its own. Experts believe he may have followed fishing boats into the harbour. It has stayed around in the harbour for the month of January, but although it is feeding, there are fears that there is insufficient food of live fish in the harbour to sustain a large mammal. On 30 January 2006, it was captured and released into the open sea.

Sea Watch Foundation News

Magic Map now has a Coastal and Marine Resource Atlas

Cornish Marine Wildlife 2005 (Ray Dennis Records)


The Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Forum


Nature Notes Webring

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