2010 Section Meetings and events

November 2, 2009

Marine Biology Section             2010 Meetings

Section meetings on the first Monday of the month at 8:00 pm. in the Arthur Mourant Room, 7 Pier Road

1st February

1st March

12th April

May no meeting

7th June

5th July

August no meeting

6th September

4th October

1st November

6th December

Saturday March 6th

Société Jersiaise Open Day 10am – 4pm     7 Pier Road

Thursday March 25th

13:15 – 13:45  Lunchtime lecture “Channel Island Seashells” by Paul Chambers


Low tide walk and survey at Havre des Pas ~ Sunday 18th

October 2, 2009
Nebalia bipes

Nebalia bipes

Picture by Paul Chambers

The section met at the slip at the end of Green Street, Havre des Pas on Sunday 18th  to make the best of the low water spring tide which was 1.2 metres above datum.

Comparing the finds with that of a 19th century French marine biologist  Francois Rene Koehler (1860 – 1931) who studied the area under the guidance of Joseph Sinel who had his  Biological Station in the area.

The small group first started searching around the water outlet coming from the reclamation site, a variety of life was observed including a pipefish, there were a few bits of lost fishing tackle which was collected for disposal. Moving down the beach the silt built up into a thick mud which prevented further progress so the party headed across the tideline to La Crabiere a rock in the centre of the channel around here we found the shell of the invasive clam Tapes philippinarum which were introduced to the Island through an aquaculture venture in the 1980’s, these are now common on the South East coast, and also in parts of the English coast. Here the observant amongst us found several smaller specimens of Majidae familyMacropodia species., small Chancres Cancer pagurus , and Lady crabs Necora puber. Moving on a pristine empty ormer shell was found and a live scallop Pecten maximus, this side of the channel had a number of razorfish shells which were not to be found on the La Collette side, also here we found a chiton that is not that common as the Acanthochitona crinitus of which we found several of in the gullies. On an interesting isololated head we found a Spotted cowrie Trivia monacha. Lifting some of the stones within the sand uncovered a number of sea fleas Nebalia bipes. Venturing into the gullies we found several adult specimens of Rostanga rubra and a number of Cushion stars Asterina gibbosa

By this time the tide was coming in at a significant pace and we proceeded up the sandy channel that was almost covered.

Birds seen along the way were a red shank, little egret, curlew, 15+ Oystercatchers, around La Craberiere were numerous gulls foraging through the seaweed foraging for any stranded life.

It was pleasing to see that there was not a great amount of litter at the low water mark, there was a large cable buried in the sand which was probably dumped or left by one of the barges building the La Collette site. Sad to say higher up the beach there was litter near the slips.

Sea temperature 16C, weather sunny air 14C

End of the Line

September 21, 2009

End of the Line

As part of the Branchage Film Festival on Saturday 3rd of October at 16:00 “End of the Line” will be shown at the Jersey Museum – duration 95 minutes Tickets £6.50 available at the weighbridge.

The disregard of politicians, restauranteurs, and us, the consumer, is brought to the fore in this expose on the effects of over fishing. Cert. PG

director Rupert Murray

This is the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of over-fishing on our oceans, where we see firsthand the effects of our global love affair with fish as food. It examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna, brought on by increasing western demand for sushi; the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish; and the profound implications of a future world with no fish in the sea by approximately 2050 that would bring certain mass starvation.

Filmed over two years, the film follows the investigative reporter Charles Clover as he confronts politicians and celebrity restaurateurs, who exhibit little regard for the damage they are doing to the oceans. Filmed across the world – from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coasts of Senegal and Alaska to the Tokyo fish market – featuring top scientists, indigenous fishermen and fisheries enforcement officials, THE END OF THE LINE is a wake-up call to the world, and not the most enjoyable film you ever see, but then it’s not meant to be. With an ever increasing global population we need to act now.

New species of Isopod for the Channel Islands Ceratothoa steindachneri

September 13, 2009
Ceratothoa steindachneri

Ceratothoa steindachneri

On the 10 th of August Paul Chambers was part of a party of recreational anglers at Les Minquiers when he caught a lesser weever fish Echiichthys vipera (The word weever is believed to derive from the old French word “wivre”, meaning serpent or dragon from the Latin “vipera”). On returning to Jersey Paul discovered a large (1.8cm) isopod with his catch and at first glance thought it was Anilocra frontalis but after some research and finding a Victorian article he came across a paper by Tammy Horton ” on Ceratothoa steindachneri new to British waters he was able to confirm that it was this species and it was reported locally on the BBC and attracted national media attention.

The isopod (iso = same, pod = foot) is one of 4,500 of the species found in the marine environment, this one is a parasite which in this case attaches to its prefered host the weever fish, most notably on the tounge which it eventually replaces.

Family Cymothoidae Ceratothoa steindachneri (Koelbel 1879) was first noted in British waters in 1996. Findings by the Marine Biological Association were published  in a news article on page in the March issue, 2001, where it mentions the discovery of a breeding population at Whitsands Bay, Cornwall, and that the species was also recorded at Sennen and Perran Bay.

Why should this more southerly species now being found here?

This is open to conjecture: Global warming and rising sea temperatures, or they hitched a ride on a north bound vessel, or  just a natural progression and adaptaion of the species, or just an alert and informed section member noting something others may have missed, or that the parasite is a host of a very unpopular fish (unless in a Bouillabaise!) that gives a venomous sting may also have something to do with the lack of records of it.

Photograph and initial report supplied by Paul Chambers section secretary.

Marine life sightings

September 5, 2009
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) at Les Ecrehous

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) at Les Ecrehous

Bottlenose dolphins are being seen on a regular basis off the south, east, north coasts and offshore reefs like to one above pictured last week off Les Ecrehous.

The section now has an online report form which can be accessed from the Societe Jersiaise web site

or from the following URL: http://www.societe-jersiaise.org/marine-biology/report-a-marine-life-sighting.html

The section would very much appreciate sightings of any significant marine life and are also working on developing online resources for reporting general species to be found on and around our shore. This data is valuable for us to gain a better understanding of the habitats, movements, and changes (if any) of our local marine life. Data is also exchanged with national partners, most notably GECC in Normandy and the Cornish Seal Group.

The section now has a small team collating and working this data and they would welcome anyone with an interest in assisting them either in entering, publishing or collecting the data.

Jersey Post issue marine life series – VII Seaweeds

July 18, 2009

Jersey Post seaweeds issue

This month Jersey Post have issued their seventh marine life series depicting local seaweeds . The presentation pack features seaweeds on the Violet Bank with Seymour Tower in the background, the section was pleased to assist with  information on the species and where they are to be found around the coast. The series are painted by local wildlife artist Nick Parlett.

The set depict the following:

37p – Egg Wrack  Ascophyllum nodosum
42p – Gutweed      Enteromorpha sp.
45p – Red Rags     Dilsea carnosa
55p – Sea Lettuce  Ulva lactuca
61p – Laminaria hyperborean
80p – Velvet Horn   Codium tomentosum

A presentation set is available on the following link: Jersey Post

A Selection of Jersey Bryozoans

June 30, 2009

Bryozoan Schizoporella unicornis

A bryozoan is a minute animal (called a zooid) which encases itself inside a box-like cell which has a single opening through which it feeds using tentacles. Bryozoans live in dense colonies which are attached to hard surfaces, such as rocks and seaweed. They grow in the form of thin encrusting sheets or as delicate branching tufts which are made from dozens of zooids; most colonies only extend for a few centimetres.

The bryozoans were at one time very popular with Victorian naturalists and by the end of the nineteenth century over a hundred species had been recorded from the Channel Islands. At least four species of bryozoan were first discovered in the islands but in recent decades they have been rather overlooked and are not often reported. This is perhaps because bryozoans are small and inconspicuous or perhaps because most species can only be identified with certainty using a microscope.

Bryozoan colonies are easy to find on the middle and lower shore, where they grow on seaweeds (especially the roots of oarweed) and form encrusting patches underneath rocks. Some colonies can be identified using a magnifying glass or, better still, a hand lens but those who are really interested in the animals should collect a small part of the colony and look at it under a dissecting microscope. There are around twenty species of bryozoan which will commonly be found on the Jersey seashore: a selection of these is illustrated here.

Commonly known as “sea mats” or  “moss animals” the literal translation of their phylum name Bryozoa

If you have encounter any bryozoans or other unusual animals on the beach then feel free to contact the Société Jersiaise Marine Biological Section and we’ll do our best to identify them for you. societemarine@hotmail.com

Pictures by Paul Chambers –  above Schizoporella unicornis  (Johnston 1847)
and below Disporella hispida  (Fleming 1828)

Bryozoan Disporella hispida-1

Sea hare abundance and uses

May 16, 2009
Sea hare Aplysia punctata

Sea hare Aplysia punctata

The abundance of sea hares Aplysia punctata that are on the shoreline continue to interest the public who wonder why they are “dead and dying”, in fact they are there to feed and breed, being hermaphrodites they have both male and female reproductive organs, and can be seen in pairs or chains of connected individuals depositing millions fertilised eggs which will hatch in under a fortnight.  There may be some association with abundance with algae especially the green ones such as sea lettuce Ulva lactuta.

Known for squirting clouds of purple dye when disturbed there is a hypothesis that our local abundances may have been a possible source of dye and the how the Banc de Violet derived its name. It is worth noting that value and history of Tyrian purple going back to 1600 BC,  a dye obtained from the glands of the shell of the Murex in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and highly praised by the Romans whose purple robes created from the dye defined a position of power and prosperity, which is noticeable still today as a colour preference of tie for many an influential leader, including the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and even some local politicians have been seen sporting it. The dye was eventually replaced by cheaper alternatives but its use lasted into medieval times.

The modern day value of Aplysia species is in neurobiology in that they have large brain cells (neurons) measuring up to 1mm in diameter, which makes the physiology study of them relatively easy.  Research into the species abilities of pain, reflex, and learning are all of value.  There are recent findings that Aplysia contain a protein known as cyplasin which is being used as a treatment for skin cancer, the protein has the ability to kill melanoma cells but leave the normal un-cancerous cells untouched, properties which distinguish it from other cancer drugs and promises to be an important weapon against tumors.

Ecrehous observations

April 22, 2009

Grateloupia filicina

Grateloupia filicina

Although the weekend was a neap tide at Les Ecrehous plenty of marine life activity was observed probably due to recent fairly settled sea conditions, high amount of sunlight in March and the sea temperatures gradually rising now to 11 C. Of interest was the finding of several specimens of Grateloupia filicina an algae that was first observed singularly here in July 2004, and as yet to be recorded around Jersey itself. It was thought to have been introduced from the Pacific with the importation of Oysters, and was known to be in the Solent before 1947. It is thought the species will not become a nuisance, especially as this is found near an area where another more prolific non-native species known as Japweed Sargassum muticum is widespread.

Spawn of the Aeolidia papillosa with a Cushion star & Dog whelk

Spawn of the Aeolidia papillosa with a Cushion star & Dog whelk

In the rock pools there were a number of samples of the white swirling spawn from the Sea mouse Aeolidia papillosa and one specimen of some mauve coloured spawn.

Egg capsules from Dog whelks Nucella lapillus were observed in a number of pools and even some whelks in the process of creating them.

The local seal population looked to have come through the winter and counts up to 12 on the Saturday, including a regular male of some years that appeared to be absent for the later part of last summer and it was thought he may have died. There was a small amount of sand eels in the shallows but no resident or migratory terns were observed, the old timers say the local terns arrive on or near Liberation day.

A most rare visitor was a Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia which was spotted by chance amongst a small group of six Little egrets.

Although there are now signs on Marmotier and advice in the media for visitors to take due care and consideration for the wildlife around the reef charter rib operators continue to land visitors who venture into sensitive areas, and if these actions continue no doubt we will yet again see the disturbance and abandonment of the Channel Islands most important Tern breeding colony. On a happier note the Cormorants and Shags appeared to be rearing a number of young but the nesting area appeared to be a deal smaller than the average.

Recent observations

April 16, 2009


Aplysia punctata group and eggs

Aplysia punctata group and eggs

Reports from last weekend when the weather was fine and settled combined with spring tide: Friday it reached 11.1 metres, and low was 1.1 metres, the sea temperature was 10.2 ̊ C.

The numerous Seahares Aplysia punctata that had been reported on previous tides were still about in large numbers from the Dogs Nest to Gorey (and probably in other areas), there were a large number of eggs visible on strands of weed.

Rostanga rubra at Anneport

Rostanga rubra at Anneport

At Anneport a couple of nudibranchs (from the Latin nudus meaning naked, and Greek brankhia meaning gills) firstly a Rostanga rubra which is said to feed on the red sponge Ophlitaspongia seriata. Also there was an Acanthodoris pilosa

Bottlenose dolphins reported in St Aubin’s Bay over the weekend, surprisingly few reports at the moment considering the sea has been fairly settled.