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Posts Tagged ‘coast’

The sea is a mysterious place – millions and millions of gallons of water home to marinelife both above and below the sea’s surface. I am at my most relaxed and chilled when I am on a boat watching anything from dolphins to birds. And a bird you can almost guarantee to see is the Gannet. It is huge, very white and definitely my favourite.

Image of a Gannet by Richard Towell Flicr

Its’ long body, pointed wings with black tips and summery yellow head make it unmistakable. The bill is the Gannet’s most important tool. When they find a shoal of fish they hold their wings back and become a straight, pointed dagger. Dropping at speed, they plunge the water, catch their fish and rise to the surface to eat their prey within seconds.

This year I went out on a boat to see thousands of Gannets breeding on the small island, Bass Rock, in Scotland. It was certainly a sensory experience. The smell (very smelly and fishy!), the sight (a spectacle), the sound (a grating cacophony) and the taste (seasalt on your lips).

If you’d like to see your own Gannet watch from a coastal vantage point looking out to the horizon, get out onto a special boat trip or if you don’t like boats watch young Gannets currently still in their nests at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire.

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Did you guess what Marine-life species this is? It’s a…. CORNISH SUCKER!  I wonder how everyone in the North did?

Did you know….Outside of the UK the Cornish Sucker is known as the Shore Clingfish.

Guess the Species Revealed- Marine Cornish Sucker

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Ed Drewitt has a series of hobbies and professions all of which seem to involve getting up very early in the morning. When he’s not out bird ringing he’s dolphin watching! Hear from Ed about the mysterious White-beaked dolphins living of Scotland’s Western Isles:

Up until a few years ago I had never heard of a white-beaked dolphin.

I was on an old fishing boat travelling from the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland to the remote Flannan Isles, some 40 miles, west into the Atlantic.  Suddenly a small group of large dolphins joined us – they were swimming closeby and had a distinctly tall dorsal fin. I took some photos and later inspection revealed the distinctive white beak of these deep water dolphins.

White Beaked Dolphin breaching

Three years later I am involved in helping to publicise MARINElife, a charity co-ordinating and developing a growing portfolio of cetacean and seabird research and monitoring projects, chiefly in European Waters.

Only in 2007 did they discover a population of white-beaked dolphins living in Lyme Bay, in deeper waters 20 miles out to sea from the famous, fossil-rich Lyme Regis. Out here, the cooler depths provide ideal feeding opportunities – the 3 metre long dolphins love to eat cod and whiting. Sometimes over 60 individuals have been seen and many can be identified by markings on their dorsal fins. Another population has also been found living in the deep waters of the North Sea.

White beaked Dolphins

The species is threatened by warming sea waters and it is predicted that over the next fifty years they will shift from the UK coastline and be found further north around Iceland and Greenland, to be replaced by an increasing population of Common Dolphins.

White beaked Dolphin – photo courtesy Alistair Knock

If you’d like to see your very own white-beaked dolphin Naturetrek and MARINElife work together to provide trips out into Lyme Bay (www.naturetrek.co.uk). Meanwhile, you can record sightings of any dolphin or whale via the MARINElife website, www.marine-life.org.uk

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The Marine Conservation Society is campaigning for 127 Marine Conservation Zones – it’s essential that we achieve this minimum level of marine protection so please find out more by visiting this page, then share the link by email and on social media, and pledge your support – we only need a moment of your time.

Anyone visiting the coast has the chance to see some amazing native species – the UK, and the South West in particular, is home to sharks, jellyfish and turtles… visit the sightings surveys page

Yes. These amazing species are found in the UK! Click on this image to view all the beautiful images on the MCS site of UK wildlife near you!!

These are just two of the ways that long term volunteers support MCS – there’s no minimum time requirement, but we need you to show you care by signing up to the group – receive our monthly Sea Champions bulletin and let us know which activities interest you and suit your availability… Sea Champions – volunteering to save our seas.

For more info contact Patrick Joel at the MCS
Email: patrick.joel@mcsuk.org

More beautiful images from the MCS site follow the link on the picture to see more!

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Officially launched in 2012, the Wales Coast Path is one of the great long distance walks on the planet.  Whether you’re enjoying a section of the path or walking its entirety, we’re sure you will be struck by the richness of the wildlife that can be encountered along the way.

Wildlife Trusts Wales has put together a map of the Wildlife Trusts reserves that can be found along the way to help you see the best of Welsh wildlife.  At 870 miles long, the path passes through a range of diverse habitats, and provides so many opportunities to spot interesting species, from rare birds and beautiful butterflies to playful seals or passing porpoises.

Look out for a copy of the map at Wildlife Trust reserves or centres around Wales.  Alternatively, for an electronic version, click here

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Seasearch divers visited Runswick Bay in North Yorkshire last Saturday to record the wildlife and habitats at this beautiful site which has been recommended for designation as a Marine Conservation Zone.  Seasearch divers love a challenge, so we gave them the additional task of finding species on the Meet the Species list to help with the final lap of the project!
The divers recorded over 60 different marine species, including 12 from the Meet the Species list that had not been recorded at any previous events.
One of these was Obelia geniculata, a small hydroid that is known as ‘kelp fir’ because it grows on the fronds of kelp plants, sometimes creating a dense ‘fuzz’ of white zig-zag stems which are each 2-3cm long.  It was recorded on forest kelp, Laminaria hyperborea, so we got two Meet the Species target species for the price of one!

Kelp fir growing on a frond of Laminaria hyperborea kelp

Hydroids are related to sea anemones, corals and jellyfish.  Most hydroids are colonial, consisting of lots of tiny polyps connected together to form a stalked, branching or bushy structure – which is why hydroids are often mistaken for plants!  Each feeding polyp has stinging tentacles to catch food as it drifts by in the current.

Close-up of Obelia geniculata kelp fir showing the fine tentacles extended to trap passing food

If you want to take a closer look at this fascinating group of species, we strongly recommend the newly published Seasearch Guide to Bryozoans and Hydroids by Dr. Joanne Porter, which is available from the Marine Conservation Society online shop.


Seasearch is a national recording scheme for recreational SCUBA divers co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society.  Dedicated Seasearch volunteers have already made over 350,000 species records fully publicly available through the NBN Gateway.  For more information visit the Seasearch website.

Check out the Yorkshire Naturalists Union facebook page for more info on the event and pictures.

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