August 2015 – News

The warmer sea temperatures this month have attracted some unusual species to the waters of the British Isles. Anglers fishing for mackerel from a boat off the coast of Lyme Regis, Dorset spotted a leatherback turtle. The species is usually found in the warmer seas of the Caribbean, and while they do occasionally come into British waters they are not usually spotted this close to land. Read more here.

Another unusual species was spotted when a beluga whale was seen off the coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The species has never been reported before in Northern Irish waters, and there has only been around seventeen sightings of the species across the whole of Britain and Ireland over the last thirty years. The sighting of the beluga whale is a mystery as this is an arctic species which lives in very cold water, and there is no logical explanation why the whale was found around the British Isles when the sea temperatures are at their warmest in August. Read more and see pictures of the beluga whale by clicking here.

A boat angler caught a ‘freak’ 64lb halibut off the coast of Hartlepool in North East England this month. Patrick Rogan, 34, had been fishing with a group of other anglers and catching cod, mackerel and ling when he thought he had snagged the seabed. After a battle he finally got the halibut to the surface where it was successfully gaffed and landed. The fish is thought to be a record for the North East of England. See pictures of the fish by clicking here.

There were horrible scenes this month as a trawler fishing off the coast of south west England caught an estimated ten tons of spurdog. The fish entirely filled the trawl net and were taken back to shore where they were discarded as they cannot be sold under current European Union rules. The spurdog is classed as Vulnerable with declining stock numbers by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, while the Marine Stewardship Council has placed spurdog on its fish to avoid list as they “are from unsustainable, overfished, highly vulnerable or poorly-managed fisheries.” Despite this there is a campaign by some commercial fishermen to allow spurdog which are caught to be retained and sold. See pictures of the haul of spurdog in the nets of the trawler by clicking here.

A species of salmon which is usually found in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans inexplicably turned up on the North East coast of England this month. Both anglers and commercial fishermen reported catching pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) in the River Tyne and in the North Sea off the coast of Tyneside. Environmentalists are unable to explain how the fish has been caught many thousands of miles away from its natural habitat, and the Environment Agency has requested anyone finding the species to report their catches. The Environment Agency also added that it is not thought that the presence of the species will have any impact on the native salmon found in the Tyne. Read more here.

The Daily Mail reported this month that cod stocks, in the North Sea at least, were on the rise. The paper reported that strict catch limits which have been in place since 2006 and paying off, and cod stocks have been continuing to rise. Despite the good news the paper spoke to Professor Callum Roberts – one of the world’s leading fisheries scientists – who pointed out that North Sea cod were still way below their historic biomass levels, and cod stocks along the West Coast of the UK and in the Irish Sea have massively declined and hardly shown any signs of recovery. Read the Daily Mail article on this topic here.

The adventurer and broadcaster Ben Fogle will present an ITV documentary which will investigate the presence of great white sharks in British waters. The documentary team will drag a 30ft whale carcass behind a boat rigged with cameras off the coast of Devon in an area of the sea called Celtic Deep. The whale carcass which is being used as bait washed up on a Scottish beach earlier this year and has been stored in massive commercial deep freezer since then. The team say they expect to find porbeagle and hammerhead sharks, but a great white would be the ultimate prize. The documentary is due to air sometime in 2016.