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 - March 2016

News 2016

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For more reports click on the seasonal buttons below: 

Link to WINTER 2015 Reports
Spring 2016 News Reports (Links)
SUMMER 2016 News Reports
Link to Autumn 2016 Reports


9 February 2016
"Life Between the Tides" ANDY HORTON, founder member of the British Marine Life Study Society, introduces the fascinating world revealed at low tide, how to enjoy a visit to a rocky shore, the biology and behaviour of some of the most interesting examples of the British fauna, concentrating on what can be discovered between the tides on the Sussex coast. Andy is a freelance writer and photographer with a specialist interest of the seashore around the British Isles, writing regular monthly articles for the "Aquarist & Pondkeeper" magazine until it ceased in 2000. He was editor of Glaucus, Shorewatch, now replaced by the Torpedo News Bulletin, as well as consultant for seashore books.

Worthing Camera Club


March 2016

Sea Hare
Photograph by Paula Lightfoot

Huge numbers of the large Sea Hares, Aplysia punctata, were discovered on the shore at Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire  "They are all over the shore, not just in rockpools, we had to be very careful not to step on them!"
They have also been found at Filey Brigg, Selwick Bay, Flamborough Head, South Bay Scarborough, Selwicks, South Landing and Boggle Hole, all on the Yorkshire coast. The first ones were found in November 2015

The interesting and newsworthy aspect of this prevalence is that occurrences in these vast numbers are are highly variable from year to year.  Only in rare years are the spawning aggregations seen in such enormous numbers.
BMLSS Aplysia

12 March 2016
A tiny and brightly colourful hermit crab was discovered by volunteers on a Cornwall Wildlife Trust Shoresearch survey at a Castle Beach, Falmouth. The tiny hermit crab measuring only six millimetres in length hasn't been recorded in Cornish waters since 1985. The species which doesn't have a common name is only known as Clibanarius erythropus (from the Latin meaning soldier, clad in mail with red legs!) This is a southern species which is common in Channel Islands and along the French coast. 

BMLSS Hermit Crabs in Devon

7 March 2016
A Bluemouth Rockfish, Helicolenus dactylopterus, was captured in a creel in the Minch, western Scotland. This deep water fish is common off Norway but not so often caught in shallow water. 

Previous Report

2 March 2016
A young male Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaengliae, was washed ashore dead at Traigh Hamara at the southern end of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. The whale looked like it had perished after becoming entangled in fishing nets. 

BMLSS Cetacea

A Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta, was rescued on Vazon Beach, Guernsey, Channel Islands. It was accompanied by a Columbus Crab, Planes minutus

BMLSS Turtles

11 February 2016
A 12 cm long Mantis Shrimp, Rissoides desmaresti, was washed ashore on the Kent coast. This is the first known record from Kent. The discovery was made at Greatstone on the English Channel coast.

9 February 2016
The first tiny Columbus Crabs, Planes minutus, ever recorded along the Sussex coast were discovered by Graham Lyons on the chalk rocky eastern part of Brighton Beach amongst a clump of Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera, that had floated in after the storm and found near the Brighton Marina wall. 

5 February 2016
A Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris, was washed ashore dead at at St John's Point, County Donegal, Ireland. 
This deep water species of dolphin is only rarely seen alive. This specimen showed the rasping marks of a Sea Lamprey, Petromyzon marinus attachment. 

4 February 2016

Second Sperm Whale 2016 at Hunstanton
Photograph by Eric Y202

The stranding tragedy reached even further epic proportions with another large Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, that was discovered alive one and a half miles out on the vast sandy flats between Old Hunstanton and Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. The huge whale was noted breathing in the early morning, but was not expected to survive. The tide came in but the whale was still unable to escape the suction of the sand and it finally died about 8:00 pm

Sperm Whale from Hunstanton Cliffs
Photograph by Paula Sparkes

Previous Stranding

2 February 2016
Another Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, in an advanced state of decomposition was found stranded on the sandy beach of Hemmes-de-Marck near Calais, France. The whale was about 14 metres long. 

1 February 2016
Eight further young bull Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus, were discovered found stranded dead near the northern town of Friedrichskoog, Schleswig Holstein, northern Germany. The young bull whales were around the same age and size as the animals discovered three weeks ago at various North Sea spots. They were lying close to each other in the mudflats of a restricted area of the Wadden Sea National Park.  Two further Sperm Whales were discovered on 3 February 2016 raising the total recent southern North Sea strandings to 28 (including the one above).
Since the 1990s, a total of 82 Sperm Whales have been found stranded in the Wadden Sea in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.

January 2016

Calm seas lapping against 
Shoreham Beach
Goose Barnacles
Photograph by Denise Johnson

The first month of the year was characterised by frequent gales interspersed with calm weather. The gales blew in the usual debris of seaweeds and shells on to the strandline, including unusually high numbers of pelagic animals especially thousands of clumps of Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera, attached to floating objects have been washed ashore all along the south coast from Cornwall to Kent and on west facing Atlantic shores. Beachcombers have discovered the tiny Columbus Crabs, Planes minutus, amongst the wrecks. Other wrecks include moribund Loggerhead Turtles, Caretta caretta, Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus, and more Barrel Jellyfish, Rhizostoma octopus. Clumps of the poisonous mineral oil were also washed ashore in large unsightly amounts on most of the south coast of England. 

List of trans-Atlantic rafting species (Aphotomarine)

BMLSS Strandlining/Beachcombing
BMLSS Barnacles
BMLSS Turtles
BMLSS Jellyfish
83 tiny Columbus Crabs, Planes minutus, were discovered on a large rope and floating dock on Bournemouth beach, Dorset. The largest was 27 mm, smallest 9 mm.

Columbus Crabs Reports
on Beachcombing (British Coastline)  facebook

25 January 2016
A fifth (seventeenth in total) Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus, was discovered washed up dead on the inaccessible coast at Wainfleet, Lincolnshire. 

Expert and observations seem to conclude that the original pod of the 17 Sperm Whales entered the shallower North Sea from deeper  northerly seas and that the complete pod perished in two weeks. 

Click on the map for the full illustrated report by Philip Hoare for the Daily Mail.

New Scientist Report

Once a Sperm Whale or group of Sperm Whales has entered the North Sea and continues due south, the animals will reach progressively shallower waters. The North Sea, and particularly its funnel-shaped southern sector less than 50 metres deep, is totally unsuitable for Sperm Whales. Although they must be able to go without food for quite some time, a prolonged stay in these waters will eventually prove fatal, if the animals do not find their way out in time. 
Historical Records

Sperm Whales in the Firth of Forth 2013

24 January 2016

Sperm Whales stranded at Skegness
Photographs by Graham G.N. Cummings

Calamitously, the other three Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus, in the pod (see below) were found washed ashore dead at Skegness. Two were stranded together on the sandy beach. 

Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP): UK Strandings

22 January 2016

Sperm Whale stranded at Hunstanton
Photographs by Bull of the Bog

Four Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus, were seen very close inshore under Hunstanton cliffs, Norfolk at night. Three swam back out into The Wash and one a big bull got stranded. It was probably already injured it was bleeding heavily from its tail, as the tide ebbed away so did its life. The following day a team of vets from  Zoological Society of London (ZSL) raced against the tide to carry out a field necropsy and crowds of curious sightseers gathered to view this stranded leviathan

Previous (2011) stranding at Hunstanton

15 January 2016
A Kemp's Ridley Turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, (national reference T2016/6) was found dead stranded at Poppit Beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Marine Environmental Monitoring recovered the body for post-mortem examination. The turtle was found with a satellite tag glued to its back. Subsequent investigation by MEM established that the turtle had previously stranded on the French coastline and been taken in for rehabilitation in La Rochelle, before being released after being tagged with both a satellite tag and a PIT (passive integrated transponder) tag. The satellite tracking had shown the turtle initially moving north, before the signal stopped transmitting last October. The necropsy of the juvenile female turtle showed that it had reasonable deposits of fat, but no gross evidence of disease was noted. Subsequent bacteriological culture of tissues found the pathogenic bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida in the bladder and follow up tests are pending.

BMLSS Turtles

12 January 2016

Five Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus, beached on the Dutch Wadden Sea island of Texel all died overnight as expected. The whales were spotted in difficulty close to the shore and rescue efforts continued until midnight, without success.

8 January 2016
Two male Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus, washed ashore dead on the island of Wangerooge in the shallow waters of the German Wadden Sea. The largest whale measured 13 metres and the smaller whale at 12 metres.

Sperm Whales are huge whales that inhabit deep water and are unusual and out of place in the shallow part of the southern North Sea. 

Altogether, the count of dead Sperm Whales on the Dutch and German coasts was 12. A fishing net was discovered in the stomach of one of the dead whales. 

5 January 2016
A Killer Whale, Orcinus orca, called "Lulu" and a recognised member of the only resident British Killer Whales called the "Hebridean or Western Community" was discovered washed ashore dead on the Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides. It was thought that Lulu become entangled in fishing gear and then drowned.  BMLSS Cetacea

11 June 2016
Adur World Oceans Day

Adur will be one of the UK leaders in presenting the seventeenth environmental exhibition of World Oceans Day on Coronation Green, Shoreham-by-Sea. The British Marine Life Study Society will present the usual exhibition of lobsters and crabs. The Friends of Shoreham Beach (FOSB) take an active role with their display of the wonders of Shoreham Beach. Wildlife writer Steve Savage presents the whale and dolphin exhibition.   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.

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

British Marine Life News 2013


BMLSS Oil Disasters page


The Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Forum


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