Marine

Conservation of the Angelshark in Welsh waters

A master of camouflage, the critically endangered Angelshark is a fascinating resident in the shallow coastal water off Wales. Here, Jake Davies and Joanna Barker describe the ecology of the Angleshark and its distribution in the north-east Atlantic, and introduce the Angel Shark Project: Wales, a conservation project that aims to safeguard Angelsharks in Welsh

Looking for that spark: bioluminescent plankton in British seas

Ocean bioluminescence has captivated observers for hundreds of years, with the first account originating from Ancient Greece in around 500 BCE. Guy Freeman reviews early observations of this phenomenon and the attempts to unravel its mystery, and explores the occurrence of ocean bioluminescence in British seas. It is past 1am, but the seafront is still

The Plymouth Sound National Marine Park: what’s in it for wildlife?

Plans for the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park are well underway, and here Keith Hiscock describes the diversity of marine life that currently exists within the boundaries of the proposed park and discusses the potential benefits of the new National Marine Park status.   The proposal for a National Marine Park in and around Plymouth Sound

The wandering Walrus and other Arctic vagrants

The arrival of Wally the Walrus in 2021 caused quite a stir, and the Walrus’s journey was closely followed in the media. But this is not the first time an unexpected visitor has reached our shores. Jonathan Mullard explores the historical records of Walruses in British and Irish waters, and describes other Arctic vagrants that have been

The Humpback Whale’s tale – a cetacean in hot water

Humpback Whale sightings in British and Irish waters are increasing year on year, but despite the thrill associated with spotting these majestic creatures so close to home, the reasons behind this increase are not so positive. Jon Dunn takes a look at the history of whaling in Britain and discusses the role of climate change in the rise in Humpback

The European Spiny Lobster in south-west Britain – back from the brink?

As a result of overfishing, the Spiny Lobster suffered drastic declines in the 1960s. But extraordinarily, the Spiny Lobster has returned to south-west waters in an impressive way. Keith Hiscock explores the life history, biology and the past decline of the Spiny Lobster to discuss how we can maintain these populations to prevent the repetition

The Basking Shark – the changing fortunes of Britain’s biggest fish

The Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus featured in volume one of British Wildlife, 29 years ago, at which time ‘the natural history of this spectacular creature… [was] still largely a mystery’ and an active fishery existed in British waters (Earll 1990). In the time since, enormous progress has been made in our understanding of the biology

A natural history of seabed habitats

The past 50 or so years have seen an enormous increase in our knowledge of what lives in the hidden world beneath our seas. Scuba diving in particular, including work by the statutory nature-conservation bodies and by volunteer divers through the Seasearch programme, has revealed the character of seabed marine life in our shallow seas.

Bluefin tuna off Britain and Ireland: return of the giant tunny?

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna have occurred sporadically in British waters over the past century, but have recently been recorded in high numbers in areas where they had been absent for many years. Tom Horton, Lucy Hawkes and Matthew Witt provide an account of the history of bluefin tuna fisheries and describe the current status of these

Sea change

Ten years after protected marine areas for cetaceans were first designated, what have we learnt, and what should we put into practice for the future? Legislation and resulting protection of the marine environment have advanced exponentially in the last five years. It has often been said that these remain decades behind terrestrial measures, but, with

Are Eels a declining food source for Otters in Scotland?

In the UK in recent decades, the native Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra population has gone through considerable changes. From the severe declines in the 1960s to a recent recovery (Kruuk 2006), it appears that its status can be considered one of the successes of the British conservation movement. Recently, however, new information has come to light which

The Native Oyster: Britain’s forgotten treasure

Aside from the odd oyster shell scattered here and there along the Essex coast, there are few signs of the many succulent treasures tucked safely below the waves. Yet these muddy estuaries and sheltered shores are the ideal location for the Native Oyster Ostrea edulis, and historically this bivalve mollusc was a dominant feature of the

Sea-level rise: implications for people and wildlife

Much of our coastline has been modified by man. Sea walls hold back the tides, rock armour counters coastal erosion, groynes arrest sediments transport, and navigation channels provide access for bigger ships.

An undercurrent of change for Norfolk’s seals

The UK is of international importance for its two breeding seal species, the Harbour Seal Phoca vitulina (formerly Common Seal) and Grey Seal Haliochoerus grypus, supporting 33% and 45% of their respective EU populations (SCOS 2007). 

Solitary-sociable dolphins in the UK

In 2006, there were at least four 'solitary-sociable' dolphins in the UK and two others nearby on the adjacent French coasts. These animals presented very significant challenges for those attempting to manage their welfare, and by the end of 2006 two of them had been killed, almost certainly as a result of their unusual behaviour; in

Life in marine meadows: the communities of eelgrass beds

One of the most mesmerising sights in the seas around Britain is the luxuriant green of a thriving eelgrass meadow. Eelgrass grows in very shallow water, so the beauty is visible not only SCUBA divers, but to snorkellers and swimmers, too. 

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