Saturday, 5 December 2009
Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
I am hoping to obtain photographs of this seal. Looking at the picture that appeared in the Shoreham Herald it is almost certainly the same seal we have seen in the past in the nearby River Ouse where it swims many miles up river above Lewes.
Monday, 12 October 2009
As you may know from earlier blog entries, its not uncommon for common seals to swim up river, especially the Ouse and the Arun. Its thought that these seals travel up river following fish. Unlike whales and dolphins, seals are quite happy up river, being able to haul out from time to time and rarely get into trouble.
A common seal was also seen just outside the Brighton Marina in East Sussex last Saturday 10th October.
Friday, 9 October 2009
We started with general information about sea mammals including important biological information about dolphins.
The children were then shown some stranding case studies and we discussed why dolphins become stranded. We discussed the problems a stranded dolphin may face and the children used this information to create their own first aid manual.
Checking the that the dolphin is alive by checking for breathing. A dolphin may breath once every 15 - 30 seconds.
Dolphins react very well to being stroked and spoken to softly.
Another couple of children were digging sand from around the flippers to help reduce pressure from gravity.
The tide is now coming in. Final check before attempting to release the dolphin into the sea.
We finished with an activity about marine litter, especially plastics. We looked at how long different items take to biodegrade and the dangers to marine wildlife from plastics and other marine debris.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Right at the beginning of the morning we asked the children to do a "true or false" quiz. These included statements such as "sharks only live in saltwater", "Sharks eat about 200 people a year", "Great white sharks are endangered", "shark meat is poisonous to eat"and "sharks are the most dangerous animals in the sea". We did not tell the children what the right answers were, they would find out during the course (and we would test them again at the end of the day).
One of the worst thing people do to the sharks is to kill them for their fins to make shark fin soup. The sharks are caught and the fins cut off and the rest of the shark thrown back into the sea, sometimes while it is still alive. Its is unbelievable cruel.
We showed the children some picture of great white sharks leaping out of the water. They do this when they speed up from the sea bed to catch seals on the surface. This only happens in a few places in the world and is really spectacular. A sea shaped decoy is pulled along the surface of the water encouraging teh shark ton attack so they can study this behaviour. The children also got to handle one of these decoys that had been chewed up by great white sharks. It was donated to the course by Chris and Monique Fallows who study the sharks and donated some of the pictures they had taken. The children were very lively and enthusiastic and I think they all enjoyed their day. Sharks really need our help and hopefuly the next generation will treat the earth and oceans with more respect and in a more sustainable way.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
In late August a possible Minke whale was reported off Rottingdean. We have not been able to confirm this identification, but it may have been the bottlenose whale currently off Bournemouth. This is a deep water species and not usually found in the English Channel however it is of course the species that became trapped in the River Thames a few years ago in 2006. There was also a bottlenosed whale stranded on the mud flats near Chichester Harbour at the end of July Last Year. Sadly the whale did not survive. The bottlenose whale currently off Bournemouth is being monitored and it is hoped it will head off west and out of the English Channel. This is a deep water species more at home in the open waters of the Atlantic where it feeds on deep water fish and squid.
A humpback whale stranded in the Thames and was found dead near Dartford Bridge Kent on Saturday 10th September. It was first seen alive on Thursday and was originally mistaken for a minke whale. This is also a possible candidate for the cetacean seen at Rottingdean. A few years ago, I am guessing about 2001 (I do not have the data to hand) a juvenile humpback whale stranded and later died on a beach in Kent. This occurred around the time that we had a report of 3 large cetaceans off Hastings (which is to the west of Kent). These were reported as Humpback whales, but unfortunately we could never verify it. However it was a week or so later that the juvenile humpback whale stranded in Kent. We do not have a huge quantity of cetacean sightings in the south compared to some parts of the UK but we do get some unusual/strange sightings from time to time.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Monday, 17 August 2009
A compass jellyfish stranded on the beach. I carefully moved it to a rockpool to see if it was still alive, but sadly we discovered it too late. A volunteer stayed by the jellyfish to make sure no one touched it (as they can still sting when dead) and also to tell people about the jellyfish.
A dead eel was also discovered on the beach. It appeared to be partly eaten but the skin was still quite shiny in places and the fish did not smell so it must have died very recently.
We set up a small tank and containers at the top of the beach to temporarily house some of the discoveries so we could talk about them at the end of the event.
We identified and kept a record of the marine life discovered during the event.
These included lugworm, sand mason worm, shore crabs, common prawns, sand hoppers, edible periwinkle, chitons, barnacles, dogwhelk, bass fry as well as animals mentioned above.
Another fish design
Friday, 31 July 2009
Sadly this year (as Sussex regional Co-ordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation) I was unable to organise a manned watch site during the event. As always I have encouraged my volunteers and requested sightings through the press so we may still get further results. As with last year, much of the week was plagued by poor weather.
We did sadly receive details of a dead dolphin (probably common, I am still awaiting images to confirm this) at the mouth of the Cuckmere River. Only live sighting was a probable bottlenose dolphin at 12:35, 25/7/09 near Cambrian wreck buoy, 50/44/42N, 001/03/40W in the Solent.
For further information about the event or UK whales and dolphins in general, check out the Sea Watch Foundation website at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
The tagged seals provided the basis for another course for the Gifted and Talented Programme in West Sussex. This course features Sussex Sea Mammals and as usual we used the life sized inflatable dolphin.
The pupils were looking for data about how the seals used the area that could be used to help protect them. The pupils discovered that the 5 tagged seals moved around quite differently using different areas that overlapped. They also discovered two possible haul out areas and two possible foraging areas
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
This sightings was also made from a vessel about 1.5 miles off the coast and may have been the same dolphin as yesterdays report (as this sighting occurred a few miles west of yesterdays sighting).
Monday, 15 June 2009
Saturday, 6 June 2009
In June 1992, over 150 Heads of States signed the Convention on Biological Diversity at Rio de Janeiro. They did so to express a shared belief that action must be taken to halt the worldwide loss of animal and plant species and genetic resources. World Oceans Day was first declared as 8 th June at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, events have occurred on or around this day all around the world.
I took a sea mammal display again this year. This year it was made up of 2 main themes, the inflatable dolphin and local dolphin and whale sightings and the seal tagging project included on this weblog.
The life sized inflatable bottlenose dolphin represents the species most commonly seen in Sussex. The display included biological information about dolphins and information and pictures of local sightings.
We also had a static display including a dolphin skull, whale vertebrate and a sperm tooth.
The seal display included information about the seal satellite tagging project. Between 2000 and 2007 the UK common seal populations declined by 56% and continue to decline. The display also included information about local seal sightings including a picture taken about 100 m away from the marquee in the adjacent River Adur.
I also presented a dolphin rescue re-enactment demonstration with participation from the audience.
The scenario for the stranding was a dolphin entangled in a piece of old fishing net. The children were asked to suggest what we might need to do to provide first aid for the stranded dolphin and volunteers helped in the demonstration.
It was decided the first thing we needed to do was to check the dolphins breathing to see if it was a live. The breathing rate should then be monitored to see if it speeds up or slows down, a sign that there could be a problem.
Dolphins have blubber that reduces the loss of their body heat when in the sea. A stranded dolphin can easily die from heat exhaustion so a row of 4 children keep the dolphin wet and cool with buckets of water (not real water of course). Dolphins control their body heat by loosing heat through their tail and fins. Water poured onto these can also help to cool the dolphin down.
Dolphins can also die from the effects of gravity, so another volunteer dug holes around the flippers to help alleviate this problem. Two volunteers filled in the stranding form and identified the species from an ID chart.
Other information was recorded such as injuries and natural markings, and the dolphin was measured.
The dolphin was returned to the sea, the volunteers walked the dolphin around until it could swim under its own steam. Back on the display stand, we answered many questions about dolphin strandings and the problems of marine mitter - especially plastic.
There were also many other very interesting displays including
The county rangers presented a fascinating display about the various shells, bones and egg cases that wash up on the beach
The Friends of Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve (FoSB) display depicted the rare vegetated shingle beach habitat on the nature reserve and a display about marine litter and the threats to wildlife and the environment.
The British Marine Life Study Society had several displays where you could come face to face with a variety of marine life.
There were also various experts on hand to answer questions.
It was a great day with much interest and lots of questions from both the adults as well as the children.