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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Winter 2014 News Reports, January - March
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Link to the News Reports, October to December 2014



14 June 2014
Adur World Oceans Day
World Oceans Day was first declared as 8th June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Events occurred all around the world on and around this day.

Adur was one of the UK leaders in presenting the fifteenth environmental exhibition of World Oceans Day on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea. The British Marine Life Study Society presented the usual exhibition of lobsters and crabs. The Friends of Shoreham Beach (FOSB) took an active role with their display of the wonders of Shoreham Beach. Wildlife writer Steve Savage presented the whale and dolphin exhibition. Nikki Hills on behalf of the Sussex Wildlife Trust produced an interactive display on the sea and seashore for the younger age group.  Exhibitors are available to find the time to answer questions about marine life.
Other participants will include Southwick Camera Club with an exhibition of seascapes and marine life, and Shoreham Sea Scouts

World Oceans Day on facebook
Adur World Oceans Day on facebook
United Nations: World Oceans Day.



30 December 2014

Photograph by Senga Millar

An adult Dealfish (Ribbonfish family), Trachipterus arcticus, was spotted actually swimming offshore in Scapa Flow at Bu in Orphir, Mainland, Orkney. "It was alive as we watched it swim inshore then we went back down with the camera it was on the rocks." Alas, this large 150 x 30 cm (5 ft x 1 ft) and rather distinctive silvery fish, with a long bright orange dorsal fin, perished as would be expected out of its normal deep sea  environment. This unusual fish usually lives at depths of over 300 metres.

Previous Report 2014
BMLSS Strandline
BMLSS Beachcombing facebook

24 December 2014

A virtual skeleton of aKemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, was discovered washed up on a beach at Tarbet in the North West Highlands of Scotland.

21 December 2014
Two young Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, were discovered on the shore near Formby on Merseyside and Cumbria's Walney Island, north-west England on coasts facing the Atlantic Ocean. The critically-endangered turtles usually inhabit the Gulf of Mexico, but may have been "cold-stunned" by a drop in ocean temperatures. These young turtles were still alive but in poor condition. These endangered turtles breed on the coasts of Mexico and are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico and were thought to have blown across the Atlantic Ocean. The turtles are likely to have suffered in the cold seas and would have succumbed if they had not been rescued.

Another one was washed up starving and dying on the Dutch coast at Den Helder Beach

BMLSS Turtles

27 November 2014

Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps
Report & Photograph by Rohan Holt

The Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, washed up alive on Anglesey a week ago has now washed up dead at Dinas Dinlle Beach on the Welsh mainland coast, south-east of Anglesey. Cetacean experts were busy examining the corpse. 

This whale is classified as a Vagrant in the British Cetacean List.

25 November 2014

Derbio, Trachinotus ovatus
Report & Photograph by Matt Round
on Fishing News facebook

Pompano (also called a Derbio), Trachinotus ovatus, was caught off Plymouth. This is a warm water fish that is only rarely seen or caught in British seas, a moderately common shoaling fish in shallow water in areas of surge in the Mediterranean Sea and the adjacent Atlantic shores. This small fish (about 35 cm long) is found in clear waters over sand or mud bottoms in the surf zone and also caught by anglers from rocky shores from the Bay of Biscay southwards. 
Previous Record 2005

It is classified in the family Carangidae, known as Jacks and Pompanos.

20 November 2014
Rescuers of a stranded cetacean on Newborough Beach, Anglesey, were surprised to discover a rare Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, washed up alive on the sand. At three metres long it still look a team of people to transport the whale to the sea where it swam off successfully into deeper water. The Pygmy Sperm Whale is found in tropical seas worldwide but there have only been about a dozen records in British seas, mostly strandings as this whale is not often seen from boats. 

BMLSS Cetacea
BMLSS Pygmy Sperm Whales

4 November 2014
A tropical Oceanic Pufferfish, Lagocephalus lagocephalus, was discovered washed up dead on Chesil Beach, Dorset, by Richard Fabbri, having been swept on to pebbles by the high tides. The fish was 30 cm along from head to the base of the caudal fin, but was actually longer than this because this fish inflates itself like a balloon to make it bigger to discourage predators. It does not make a good meal, especially for humans, because the fish more than likely contains a toxin tetrodotoxin sufficiently harmful enough to cause death to anyone eating the fish without expert culinary preparation. It is advisable not to even touch the fish.

Oceanic Pufferfish
Photograph by Richard Fabbri

The Oceanic Pufferfish is normally found in tropical seas and is a very rare and surprising discovery in the English Channel. 

Previous Report 2006
Poisonous Fish

23 September 2014
An epic natural tragedy in the sea was witnessed off the Ards Peninsula, north-east Ireland, when a bull seal was spotted by Lena McVea from Ballywalter with a large item of living prey in its mouth, described as pink with a large dark shadow and as big as another seal. This action was seen through binoculars in a deep channel with pladdies, between the Long Rock and the shore. Eventually, a three metre long juvenile Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, was discovered dying on the sandy shallows. The freshly dead shark was taken away for post-mortem.

Full Report on Manx Basking Shark Watch facebook
Shark Trust Basking Shark Project
BMLSS Basking Shark
Queen's University Marine Laboratory web pages

23 September 2014

Sea Spider, Endeis
Photographs by David Fenwick Snr

An extraordinary red Sea Spider, Endeis species, was discovered on the lower shore at St. Ives, Cornwall. There were quite a few of these miniature pycnogonids rarely recorded before this year on British shores. Sea Spiders are occasionally discovered on the shore and in the seas around the British Isles but they are usually of the genus Nymphon or the bulkier and widespread species Pycnogonum littorale. But this year this slender species, without chelifores or palpus, has also been recorded at St. Abbs Nature Reserve by Shaun West (in August 2014) and other reports from the east coast of England (by Dawn Watson) and the first ever records from the Netherlands (Marco Faase). This specimen was examined microscopically by Dr. Paul Gainey and identified as Endeis spinosa. The are 10 records of this species in Cornwall, the first in 1912, but confirmed by Bamber in 1983.

Endeis on MarLIN
Pycnogonida (Sea Spiders)
Fossil Focus: Pycnogonida

26 July 2014
Shoals of Anchovies, Engraulis encrasicolus,that normally inhabit warm waters have been seen swimming in the North Sea off the Essex coast. Angler Richard Holgate has caught this Mediterranean fish off Walton-on-the Naze pier for the first time. In historic times Anchovies were caught in large numbers off the coast of the Netherlands in summer when they entered the Wadden Sea and Zuiderzee. After the closing of the Zuiderzee they were still found in the Wadden Sea until the 1960s. They were also caught in the estuary of the Scheldt. There is reason to believe that Anchovies at the western end of the English Channel in November and December migrate from the Zuiderzee and the Scheldt in the autumn, returning there the following spring.

23 July 2014
A most extraordinary capture of a young Atlantic Croaker, Micropogonias undulatus, caught by an angler off the Dutch coast. This fish is a member of the Drum (Sciaenidae) family of fishes that make a distinct croaking sound
The Atlantic Croaker can be found along the east coast of the U.S.A. (between Florida and Massachusetts) and northern Gulf of Mexico, where it is one of the most abundant inshore, demersal fish species. Captures of this small fish (> 55 cm) in the North Sea are rare but have occurred before. They are most likely to have arrived in a ship's ballast water.

Historic Report 1998 (Journal of Fish Biology 2004)

2 May 2014

Asian Shore Crab
Photographs by Martin Burke

An immigrant Asian Shore Crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, was discovered by Martin Burke in a rock pool by the Aberthaw Power Station, in south Wales. This small intertidal crab  is a species of crab from East Asia. It has been introduced to several other shores, and is now an invasive species in North America and Europe. These crabs are known from the European mainland and have been reported in Guernsey, as far as we are aware this is the first record of Hemigrapsus on mainland GB and is therefore a significant record. 
GB Non-native Species Secretariat

Report by Davy Holt

19 February 2014 
juvenile Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was rescued after being washed up alive on Freshwater Beach West in Pembrokeshire, SW Wales. The 17 cm (6.7 in) male turtle was placed in a special quarantine tank at Bristol Aquarium where it is being treated before, hopefully, being returned to warmer Caribbean seas from where it had travelled across the Atlantic Ocean helped by the North Atlantic Gyre (Gulf Stream). 

18 February 2014
After the storms, a most extraordinary discovery of a rare Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, washed up on Saltdean Beach, east Brighton, East Sussex, It was unbelievable as it is both the world's rarest sea turtle and thousands of miles out of its natural range, and unprecedented in the seas off Sussex. 
Kemp's Ridley Turtles are listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union, with only 35 previous records of the Kemp's Ridley species in UK and Irish waters. According to the Marine Conservation Society the latest estimates suggest that only a few thousand adult females still nest on only one stretch of beach on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

BMLSS Turtles

3 -- 6 February 2014

The wreck of the railway line at Dawlish
Photographs by Paul Webber on flickr

More storms battered the coast of Cornwall combining with high spring tides, causing flooding and damage, notably at Looe, south Cornwall. On 5 February 2014, the waves wrecked the sea defences and resulted in the closure of the railway main line from Exeter to Penzance. The railway track was undermined at Dawlish by the collapse of the sea wall and ballast. 

6 January 2014

Porthcothan Bay
Photograph by Paul Challinor
Pom Pom Rock
Photograph by Mark Freeman
Dorset Landscapes

Exposed to the Atlantic swell, the Cornish coast suffered remarkable damage after a terrific pounding by the waves blown on to the rocky shore by gale force winds. On the northern rocky coast at Porthcothan Bay a scenic arch and free standing rocky outcrop was destroyed during the night. On the Dorset coast a substantial sea stack known as Pom Pom Rock at Portland was completely obliterated by the storm. 

3 January 2014
Waves battered the south and west coasts of Britain throughout the day, from Cornwall and the south coast, all up the western coasts to Scotland, propelled by high spring tides, gale force winds gusting to storm force and higher, and a small* storm surge.

Waves battering the cliff at Rock-a-Nore the day after the cliff fall 
Photograph by Jude Hutchings
Waves at Birling Gap
Photograph by Graham Huntley

The most dramatic storm damage occurred when a large area of sandstone cliff at Rock-a-Nore (now part of Hastings, East Sussex) fell into the sea at about 1:30 pm. There was also an appreciable chalk cliff fall near Birling Gap in East Sussex. 
(*The storm surge was 0.5 metres at Newhaven, Sussex.) 

Strandline at Dawlish (south Devon) on facebook
Photographic Gallery by Andrew Cleave

Starfish and sand burrowing molluscs like cockles were deposited on the strandline in addition to the usual collection of Mermaid's Purses, whelk egg cases, etc. A Grey Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, was washed onshore off the Gower, south Wales. The power of the waves was strong enough to move the sand in the shallow water and cause erosion of the shoreline and large displacements of sand and shingle. 
BMLSS Strandline

 1 January 2014
The New Year was heralded in by overcast and damp weather. Gales battered all the English and Welsh coasts.
Beaufort Scale

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