Monday, 22 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Initially it was thought the two events were not related, as winter storms can wash ashore large numbers of all sorts of small marine creatures (such occurred locally back in March this year). Since then it has been suggested that the porpoise and other marine animals at Worthing may have been the result of a trawl. The remains of the porpoise was picked up by the Natural History Museum in London and I hope to receive an official report on the cause of death.
While porpoise are not common in the eastern channel in winter they are occasionally observed, for example a pair of harbour porpoise were reporetd at Hastings (East Sussex) in January 2007. Over the years we have had the occasional winter stranding of porpoise off Sussex, in one year a baby porpoise with the umbilicus still attached.
Friday, 21 November 2008
Friday, 7 November 2008
Bills first sighting of the seal was at 2pm as he was cycling along the Peacehaven undercliff promenade on 31st October. It was a warm sunny afternoon with calm sea and the seal was basking on the groin as you can see below.
It seemed to be in good health and condition, with no sign of injury or distress. Bill took several pictures with a long lens from the promenade, the seal simply turned to keep a wary eye on him, making no attempt to go into the water. (see below)
Seals have an oily tear that runs across their eye to protect it against the salt water. This makes them look like they are crying, when they are dry and hauled out on the beach
Flipper waving, a friendly warning not to come any closer.
Looking at this photograph I am almost certain that the seal is female. Bill managed to measure a section of the groin shown in the photograph and we were able to estimate that the seal was about 1.2 metres. Female common seals are 1.2 to 1.7 metres and males 1.4 to 1.9 m, so it is probably an adult or young adult female.
The following morning was overcast and drizzly and Bill checked for the seal from the cliff top at about 11am on Nov 1st. To his surprise it was still there. The seal seemed more cautious today and slipped into the sea which was right up to the groin as it was high tide. It popped up a few yards offshore then dived again and appeared a hundred yards or so offshore, where it stayed for the quarter of an hour or so that Bill was there. It did occasionally dive for some lengths of time so it may have been feeding.
When Bill went back the following day it had gone and he hasn’t seen it since. In Bill's own words, a fascinating first encounter with a sea mammal in the wild.
Check out earlier blog entries for more Sussex seal sightings.
If you would like to see more spectacular pictures of the coast, visit Bill Carters website at
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
This is particularly interesting as seals do not usually seem to swim further up the Adur than the Norfolk bridge (just south of where the seal was spotted). I do however receive reports of seals several miles up the River Ouse and the River Arun as part of my role as Sussex County Recorder for Sea Mammals. Now that common seals are a biodiversity action plan species, sightings are even more important and its always good to receive observations.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Two cormorants startled from a rest place on the quay
One of the more secluded sandy beaches below. Most of the beaches are long stretches of sand with few people. Many are backed by sand dunes.
Dune insects fighting near a hole (not sure what they are)
There are lots of sea shells laying on the sand, wexford mussel, razor shells and large otter shells. This shell has a hole made by a predator, probably a neclace shell.
There were many seabirds including several gull species, fulmar, gannets, oystercatchers and terns. The terns were diving for fish, this one was successful.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
We mingled with the visitors to the events and answered questions ansd pointed out things of interest. We set a few tanks and containers up at the top of the beach to house a few animals temporarily and discussed these before they were retrned to the tide pools. There was a lot of interest and many of the people said they would come back and explore the beach themselves - which is really the main aim of such an event, raising awareness and encouraging people to enguage with their coastline.
15 June 2008
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Saturday, 15 March 2008
We walked to the end of the harbour arm where a couple of fishing boats chugged along underneath a cloud of seagulls wheeling overhead. Within the harbour mouth a great crested grebe dived periodically beneath the water. Not a common bird in this area but I have noticed reports over the years of Great Crested Grebe on the sea at Shoreham.
On the way back to the car we explored the strandline. The most common strandline objects were the clumps of whelk eggs. Usually washed ashore after the eggs had hatched, due to the stormy seas some of the egg capsules still had eggs. There were also large piles of slipper limpet shells that had been washed up together. There was also a dead spider crab and numerous dead starfish amoungst the debris.
There were numerous empty dogfish eggcases and a few ray egg cases (Dogfish egg case below)
We also found about a dozen scallop shells (below) and several oyster shells, the latter had both halves (valves) still intact.
Afterwards we drove along the coast to Hove beach for a hot drink and to further explore the strandline. My wife Sharon and our friend Xena had visited this beach yesterday and said there was lots to see.
There were many slipper limpet shells on this beach as well. I also found a stack of live slipper limpets, 5 stuck together in a stack.
The bottom slipper limpet is a female the rest are males. If the female dies, for example if they are dislodged in a storm, the next male will change sex and become female. Unlike the common limpet, slipper limpets are plankton feeders.
There were also numerous whelk eggcases here too (see above). A few dogfish eggcases and a larger number of ray eggcases (see below), 14 which I found on just one area of the beach.
I found the remains of a small sea urchin (below). Not an empty test (this is what the shell is called) unfortuantely but the dead remains with the spines missing. If you look carefully at the image below you will notice the tube worm on the slipper limpet shell, top left.
The other unusual find was a clump of eggs about 10 cm across. The nearest thing I had seen to this is lumpsucker fish eggs. The female lumpsucker lays her eggs close to shore and leaves them to be guarded by the male.
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
The Friends of Shoreham Beach (FoSB) display explained why Shoreham Beach had been made a Nature Reserve (because of its rare vegetated shingle habitat) and the work of the FoSB.
The FoSB display also included an exhibit about marine litter. This consisted of a variety of litter items cast ashore by the tide which were tied to a piece of fishing net (also marine litter). Each label had a tag with information about how long it takes each item to biodegrade.
There was also a display that I had worked on (based on te outraech work I had done with local schools earlier in the year) which depicted elements of coastal geography.
This looked at how the local coastline was formed and how it is shapeed by natural forces. This included how chalk and flint were formed and how the shingle beaches contain flint scoured from the chalk and deposited on the coast after the last ice age. Some are the result of more recent coastal erosion. The display also looked at vegeated shingle; the animals that are attacted by this habitat, how the plants have adapted to live in this harsh environment and the threats this habitat faces. These was also information about strandline objects and some examples that could be handled.
The main focus of the Sea Watch Foundation display was a life sized bottlenose dolphin, the species most frequently seen along the Sussex coastline.
Infomation about local dolphin sightings (including pictures) were displayed down the left side of the display while the right side provided information about dolphin natural history. There were also some fact quiz questions.
The remainder of the display looked at the science of studying dolphins and whales focusing on photo-identification (recognising individual whales or dolphins) , DNA sampling and satellite tagging whales to study migrations and populations. We also displayed a dolphin skull, sperm whale tooth, baleen killer whale vwertebrae (all on loan from the local Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton. The event was well attended and there was a lot of interest and divese questions.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
On the mud flats on the far side of the river there were several redshank feeding. Redshark have relatively long legs and stride over the soft mud probbing every now and then with their long beaks. The display will be mainly about the Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve and will also be run by the Friends of Shoreham Beach (FoSB).
Anyway, more about the shingle. People often this that the shingle is boring but it is infact very interesting. 98% of the pebbles are flint washed into the English Channel at the end of the last ice age or have been left behind as the chalk coast eroded in more recent times.