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Marine Life & Conservation

First wave of Marine Conservation Zones for Cornwall welcomed



Photo: Dolphin Surfing by George Karbus, winner of the RSWT Photo Competition 2013

News that the UK government are to create 27 Marine Conservation Zones has been met with a positive response from conservation groups – however, many are warning that this is just the first step, and that much more must be done to protect the marine life (endangered or otherwise) that inhabits UK waters. Here’s what the Cornwall Wildlife Trust has to say on the matter:

As the Government today confirms immediate designation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), Cornwall Wildlife Trust welcomes this first step towards the creation of a network so absolutely vital to ensure the healthy future of our seas.

Cornwall will benefit from four coastal Marine Conservation Zones in sites with outstanding marine life: The Manacles, Padstow Bay and surrounds, Whitsand and Looe bay, and Upper Fowey and Point Pill. Nearby, the Isles of Scilly and Tamar Estuaries will also benefit from creation of MCZs. There are also three offshore MCZs being designated off Cornwall: the Canyons, South West Deeps and East of Haig Fras.

Wed cuckoo wrasse Matt Slater


Photo: Matt Slater

Ruth Williams, Living Seas Manager for Cornwall Wildlife Trust says,

“Marine Conservation Zones as part of a network of protected areas are one of the best tools to protect marine wildlife effectively and restore our seas to their full potential following decades of neglect and decline. We welcome this long awaited news that finally our coastal marine wildlife will be provided the greater recognition and protection it deserves

This first step in the creation of a network of Marine Conservation zones will help make the future of our inspiring marine life more secure, and will aid recovery of our valued marine areas.”

“ We would like to thank all of the dedicated volunteers who have been invaluable in collecting information to support this campaign and for helping to raise public awareness of the need for Marine Conservation Zones. It is also heartening to hear that the Government has committed to establishing more Marine Conservation Zones over the coming four years. Cornwall has many more rich and vitally important marine sites that still require urgent protection so our campaign doesn’t end here.”


Photo: Tony Sutton

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas says,

“Marine protection is an issue which matters to anyone who has ever spent happy afternoons exploring rockpools or been enchanted by chance encounters with dolphins, whales or one of the many other captivating species we enjoy in our waters.”

“It is vital for the appropriate management of the 27 designated sites to be implemented as soon as possible.  We look forward to working with Government to ensure this happens.

“We are buoyed by the Government’s commitment to establishing future tranches of Marine Conservation Zones, demonstrating that it also remains committed to completing the ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas so desperately needed.”

This announcement brings us closer to realising our vision of Living Seas where marine wildlife is able to thrive and recover from human impacts. Well protected marine ecosystems will be more resilient to future challenges from climate change and ocean acidification and healthy seas are also vital to support productive fisheries for the future.

Designation of 27 Marine Conservation Zones:

The Canyons


South-West Deeps (West) East of Haig Fras


Poole Rocks


South Dorset


Chesil Beach and Stennis Ledges Torbay


Skerries Bank and surrounds Tamar Estuary Sites Whitsand and Looe Bay
Upper Fowey and Pont Pill The Manacles


Isle of Scilly Sites


Padstow Bay and surrounds Lundy


Fylde Offshore Cumbria Coast Aln Estuary Swallow Sand Rock Unique
Blackwater, Crouch, Roach and Colne Estuaries Medway Estuary


Thanet Coast


Folkestone Pomerania


Beachy Head West


Kingmere Pagham Harbour      


The life of a Great White Shark



Great White Shark

The great white shark, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, embodies the apex predator of the ocean. This majestic creature’s life is a testament to survival, adaptability, and the intricate balance of the marine ecosystem.

Born in the waters off coastal regions, a great white shark begins its life as a pup within the safety of nurseries, typically found in warm, shallow waters. The pups, measuring around 5 feet in length at birth, are immediately equipped with an innate instinct for survival.

Great White Shark

As they grow, great whites embark on a journey, venturing into deeper and cooler waters, often covering vast distances across the ocean. These apex predators are perfectly adapted hunters, relying on their impressive senses to detect prey. Their acute sense of smell, aided by specialized sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, helps detect the faintest traces of blood in the water from several miles away.

Feeding primarily on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals, great whites are known for their powerful jaws lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Their hunting techniques often involve stealth, utilizing their streamlined bodies to approach prey from below and striking with incredible speed and force.

Great White Shark

Despite their fearsome reputation, great whites play a crucial role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. As top predators, they help regulate the population of prey species, preventing overpopulation that could disrupt the balance of the food chain.

Reproduction among great white sharks is a slow and careful process. Females reach sexual maturity between 12 and 18 years of age, while males mature earlier, around 9 to 10 years old. Mating occurs through complex courtship rituals, with females giving birth to a small number of live pups after a gestation period of about 12 to 18 months.

Great White Shark

However, the life of a great white shark is not without challenges. Human activities, including overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction, pose significant threats to their population. Additionally, despite their formidable presence, great whites are vulnerable and face dangers from entanglement in fishing gear and accidental bycatch.

Despite these challenges, great white sharks continue to inspire awe and fascination among scientists and nature enthusiasts. Their presence in the ocean serves as a reminder of the delicate balance and interconnectedness of marine life, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations to admire and study.

Want to learn more about sharks? Visit The Shark Trust website:


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Marine Life & Conservation

Book Review: Sea Mammals



Sea Mammals: The Past and Present Lives of Our Oceans’ Cornerstone Species by Annalisa Berta

This is a book packed with information about some of the most iconic and charismatic marine species. I have a particular soft spot for the pinnipeds, seals and sea lions, due to some incredible diving encounters over the years. So these were the pages I first turned to.

Once picked up this book is hard to put down. Polar Bears, Narwhal, Sea Otters, manatees, whales and dolphins adorn the pages with beautiful photographs and illustrations. Each turn of the page lures you in to discover more about a species you love, one you want to learn more about, some you have never heard of and even includes the details of fascinating animals that are sadly now extinct.

I think what I love most about this book is how it is organised. Rather than simply lump the animals into taxonomic groupings, they are put into chapters that tell you a story about them. Whether it is the story of their evolution, how they were discovered, their biology, behaviour or need for conservation. Once you have decided on an animal to delve deeper into, each species has its own story, as well as key information about size, diet, distribution, habitat and conservation status.

There is plenty to enjoy in this delightful book. Plenty to learn too. As the cold dark nights draw in, I can see myself delving into this book time and time again. This is a perfect gift for anyone that loves the ocean and its inhabitants. Or just treat yourself.

What the publisher says:

From the gregarious sea otter and playful dolphins to the sociable narwhal and iconic polar bear, sea mammals are a large, diverse, and increasingly precious group. In this book, Annalisa Berta, a leading expert on sea mammals and their evolution, presents an engaging and richly illustrated introduction to past and present species of these remarkable creatures, from the blue whale and the northern fur seal to the extinct giant sperm whale, aquatic sloth, and walking sea cow.

The book features more than 50 individual species profiles, themed chapters, stunning photographs, and specially commissioned paleo-illustrations of extinct species. It presents detailed accounts of these mammals’ evolutionary path, anatomy, behavior, habitats, and conservation. And because these are key species that complete many food chains and have the widest influence of all sea life, the book also offers insights into a broad variety of marine worlds today and in the future.

About the Author:

Annalisa Berta is professor emerita of biology at San Diego State University. A specialist in the anatomy and evolutionary biology of marine mammals, especially baleen whales, she formally described a skeleton of the early pinniped Enaliarctos. She is the author of Return to the Sea: The Life and Evolutionary Times of Marine Mammals and the editor of the award-winning Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A Natural History and Species Guide.

Book Details

Publisher: Princeton University Press


Price: £25

ISBN: 9780691236643

Published: 26th September, 2023

Pages: 224

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