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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January to March 2013

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Vernal Equinox: 20 March 201311:02 GMT

8 June 2013

Adur World Oceans Day
Family event. Find out what lives in the sea and seashore, with live lobsters and crabs, a rock pool aquarium, whale and dolphin exhibition, touch table and activities for children.

The thirteenth Adur World Oceans Day 2013 will take place in the marquee on Coronation Green, by Shoreham Footbridge at the High Street end on the second Saturday of the Adur Festival

World Oceans Day on Facebook
United Nations: World Oceans Day


30 March - 8 April 2013

Sperm Whale blowing in Oban Harbour
Photograph by Wendy Clark Photography

A 10 metre long deep water Sperm Whale, Physeter catodon, made an unexpected and surprising visit to the shallow waters of Oban Bay in south-west Scotland. It has been unable to negotiate its way out of the horseshoe-shaped bay and has attracted many visitors over a sunny Easter. 

23 March 2013  - 3 April 2013 et seq
A Bearded Seal, Erignathus barbatus, made an appearance at TBS Salmon farm in Basta Voe, in Yell in the Shetland Isles. This Arctic seal is a rare visitor to even the most northernmost Scottish islands.

Bearded Seal
Photograph by James Simison
Click on the image for a set of six photographs


5 March 2013
Two Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaengliae, were seen blowing off Ushat Head near Brims Ness, Caithness, the northerly tip of mainland Scotland. This is unusual in winter and not seen often even in summer. 

Whales & Dolphins in British Seas (by Steve Savage)

3 March 2013
A Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus, was spotted hauled out at Brides Ness, North Ronaldsay, the most northern of the Orkney Islands. It's thought to likely be a male due to the pinkish nodules on the neck and shoulders. The animal does not appear to have sustained any injury and could just be not used to encountering humans; probably why we got so close. The Walrus is an Arctic sea mammal and is only very rarely seen in the seas surrounding the British Isles. It feeds mostly on molluscs

Report and Photograph by Gavin Woodbridge  (BBC Radio Orkney) on facebook
with Fleur Warren and Mark Twitch Warren

"The sandy sea bed around North Ronaldsay has food for him too, they will take Spoots,Ensis, but are especially fond of Blunt Gaper, Mya truncata, and there's plenty around there." 

Comments by Martin Gray
"This is the first confirmed sighting since 1986 in Orkney."
Comments by Lorna Whittle
North Ronaldsay Bird & Walrus Sightings
Walrus Report from Ireland in 1999

BMLSS Seals and other Pinnipeds

25/26 February 2013
At the meeting of the European Commission Agriculture and Fisheries Council the decision was made to make a decisive stance on the important matter of fishery discards. Ministers said a ban on "discards" should be phased in, starting in January 2014 for pelagic fish, and for white fish stocks from January 2016. There was agreement in principle but there were complicated management procedures to discuss and implement. 

EU Fishing Rules

25 February 2013
A juvenile 2.3 metre long Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus, was washed up dead amongst the rocks at Lamorna Cove in west Cornwall by members of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network.  As it was such a young dolphin it didn't carry the heavy scarring typically seen in older animals of this species. The sparse number of teeth, which are found only in the bottom jaw, helped to confirm the identification.

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)

23 February 2013
James Isbister struggled for 20 minutes to land a huge two metre long Ling, Molva molva, while fishing off Muckle Flugga, Shetland, It weighed 30 kg (67 lb) and is awaiting confirmation as a new British angling record. The current record fish weighed 27 kg and was caught in 1989.

A line fishermen, Ingibergur G. Thorvaldsson, caught a Ling of 51 kg in 2009 off Iceland. 
World Angling Record 2002

17 - 19 February 2013

Fin Whale washed ashore on the sand of Wigtown Bay
Photographs by Keith Kirk on flickr

A malnourished sub-adult Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus, washed up dead in the shallow Wigtown Bay in south-west Scotland. The 17.5 metre long whale was discovered on the mud flats near Carsluith on the Solway coast.

18 February 2013
A small pod of Sperm Whales, Physeter catodon, were spotted by creel fishermen off the north-east coast of Scotland, between Loch Torridon and South Rona (Inner Hebrides) "Groups of Sperm Whales had been seen off Scotland in the summer, but it was unusual for them to be spotted at this time of year," said Nick Davies (Hebridean Whale Cruises) who identified the whales from photographs. 
Dr Peter Evans (Sea Watch Foundation) said: "In past decades, most records of Sperm Whales in British seas have been of lone adult males around Scotland, mainly off the Orkney Islands, Shetland and the Hebrides. Increasingly, however, adolescent males have occurred in our waters, sometimes in groups of five to ten individuals. The latest sighting was notable not just because it was made in winter, but also because of how close the whales were to shore."
Sperm Whales are very deep divers and may stay submerged from 20 minutes to over an hour so they are not often seen at the surface,. They are only occasionally seen around the British Isles in deep water areas. 
Dr Evans added: "The increased occurrence of winter sightings in Scottish waters could be a reflection of climate change, with their main prey, squid, becoming more abundant locally in recent years, resulting in animals staying through the winter to feed rather than travelling into warmer southerly latitudes."

BMLSS Cetaceans

6 February 2013
The European Parliament voted for ambitious reforms of the controversial EU Common Fisheries Policy in order the protect the fish stocks. 

Gales at Force 9 batter north-east England. 
Waves crash against Seaham Harbour, County Durham, ahead of a spell of snow and wind in Britain (Image)

4 February 2013
Gales batter the Scottish coast and storm force winds create some very high waves out in the north-east Atlantic Ocean, one (200 miles west of the coast of Scotland) recorded at 14.3 metres (nearly 47 ft) and the highest in the world for the day.
NB: the same buoy K5 recorded a wave of 17.4 metres (57 ft) in 2007.
Mega Seaweed Swell Report for 24 January 2013

2 February 2013
A badly decomposed 20 metre long whale washed up on Putsborough Beach, North Devon. A backbone, part of a rib and tailbone were identified but the remains were not enough to identify the species.
Picture Gallery

30 January 2013 >
A sea bird wreck occurred along the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and further away off Devon and Cornwall.  Hundreds of birds have been washed ashore in a poor condition because they were coated in an oily waxy substance. Most of the hundreds of bird victims were Guillemots, Uria aalge, who dive under the water far out to sea. 

The sea was very very rough and these two Guillemots were looking bedraggled and tired in a sheltered cove on Portland Bill, and so I thought that was the reason they were there but have now been informed that there have been hundreds of these found covered in a waxy substance between Cornwall and Hampshire so its likely that these two have been affected.

Photograph and comments by Pam Parsons on flickr

This Guillemot was washed ashore dead at West Weares, Chesil Beach, Isle of Portland, Dorset. There is not always an obvious cause of death, but the bird probably perished because it got caught in the polluted sea. Even small coatings of the waxy substance would have prevented the bird fishing and preening. Guillemots will live and feed offshore in the first two months of the year rarely coming close to land, unless injured or blown in by a gale

Photograph and comments by Jason Hoad on flickr

Plymouth University have identified the sticky substance as a form of polyisobutene (PIB), which was used as a lubricating additive in oils to improve performance. It is slow to biodegrade and difficult to remove from the affected birds which will die without treatment. Many of the birds were washed ashore already dead. 

History of the Spillage

23 January 2013
Very large Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua, have been caught off the Sussex coast. A notable specimen fish landed by Dominic Camilleri of the South Coast Angling Club, based at Shoreham Harbour, weighed in at 18.5 kg (40 lb 12 oz). The English Channel is not usually noted for its Cod

The record rod and line caught Cod in British seas was caught off Whitby in 1992 and this fish from the North Sea weighed  26.5 kg (58 lb 8 oz). The largest angling catch in the English Channel weighed in at 19.8 kg (43 lb 9 oz), caught as recently as 2012 and exceeded the second largest at the time of 15.9 kg (35 lb). 

A massive Atlantic Cod weighing 44 kg was caught by an angler off Lofoten, Norway. A 41 kg (91 lb) Cod was caught by an angler off the island of Sørøya
Big Fishes of the World

According to Wikipedia, the Atlantic Cod can grow to two metres in length and weigh up to 96 kg (210 lb). i.e.   this largest Atlantic Cod ever caught was landed by a long-line fisherman off the Massachusetts coast in 1895

A 41.7 kg (91 lb 15 oz) Cod was caught by an angler off the island of Sørøya, Norway in 2012. 
Largest European Cod 2012 (Daily Mail Report)

History of Cod Fishing


British Marine Life News 2012

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