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Marine Life & Conservation

Marine Conservation Society’s report shows increase in jellyfish sightings on UK and Irish shores

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The Marine Conservation Society has released its annual Wildlife Sightings report, marking World Jellyfish Day on Friday 3rd November.

The charity’s wildlife sightings project focusses on gathering reports of jellyfish and marine turtles, which feed on jellyfish. These two marine animals are both vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of changes in our ocean over time, like warming waters. The charity’s report provides a detailed breakdown of the species observed, revealing the diversity of jellyfish in UK and Irish waters.

Jellyfish

This year’s report (covering 1st October 2022 to 30th September 2023) shows a 32% increase in jellyfish sightings compared to the previous year.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK and Irish seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. The Marine Conservation Society’s report shows 75% of sightings were of individuals (1-20), whilst 11% of sightings were of large blooms of over 100 individuals, an increase of 57% from last year.

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Research has suggested that an increase in some jellyfish numbers around UK could be related to climate change, however, currently there isn’t enough evidence to make this link. The Marine Conservation Society’s Wildlife Sightings programme aims to collect long term data which can be used as a reference to study the reality of jellyfish trends in UK waters.

Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery at the Marine Conservation Society, said, “Jellyfish populations are highly variable year on year, and depend on several environmental factors that are different each year, such as sea temperatures and storms. Numbers of sightings we receive can also depend on the awareness of our sightings programme and the ‘wow factor’ of jellyfish people encounter.

Jellyfish

“This year seems to have been a particularly good year for barrel jellyfish – one of our chunkiest jellyfish species that can occur in mind-boggling numbers when conditions are favourable. It’s only by observing trends over many years that we can start to suggest reasons for change.”

The most frequently reported species during the reporting period was the barrel jellyfish, which accounted for almost 27% of total sightings (467). This is an increase of 21% compared to the previous year’s results, when it was the sixth most-spotted species. Barrel jellyfish are sometimes called ‘dustbin lid jellyfish’ due to their large size – they can grow up to one metre in diameter. They have a solid, spherical, rubbery-looking bell which can be white, pale pink, blue or yellow. Rather than tentacles, barrel jellyfish have eight thick, frilled arms.

The report features other intriguing jellyfish-like species, including crystal and comb jellies, and sea gooseberries, which made up 10% of the total sightings this year. Crystal jellyfish were the most reported ‘other’ species, accounting for 3.2% of all sightings.

Jellyfish

The Marine Conservation Society also records reports of marine turtles, which feed on jellyfish. The charity’s volunteers submitted 12 reports of marine turtle sightings this year, four of which were live leatherbacks. Turtle sightings contribute to a national database.

Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK and Irish seas. The leatherback turtle is most likely to be spotted feeding on our jellyfish during the summer months., while stray juvenile loggerheads are usually encountered washed up in winter. The leatherback, which is the largest sea turtle, and loggerheads are considered to be of ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how better to protect them through policies and conservation strategies.

Other turtle species are swept into UK and Irish seas by strong winds and currents, though more suited to warmer waters. The charity’s Turtle Code provides advice on what to do if a beached turtle is found.

Jellyfish

Justine Millard, Head of Volunteering and Citizen Science at the Marine Conservation Society, said, “The data on jellyfish and turtles that volunteers submit plays a vital role in understanding the changes occurring in our marine ecosystems, and help us to protect our seas. We urge anyone who has spotted a jellyfish or turtle to report it to us to continue to build a picture of our seas and the incredible life within them. A huge thanks to all the volunteers who have submitted data to us this past year.”

The Marine Conservation Society uses wildlife sightings by citizen scientists to:

  1. Discover how jellyfish and turtle populations are changing around the UK – specifically when and where they are occurring each year
  2. Investigate trends in turtle sightings to find out more about how they use our waters
  3. Explore whether jellyfish distribution can tell us more about where leatherback turtle feeding grounds may be

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website: www.mcsuk.org/sightings.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive with a Purpose: Shark Guardian’s Expedition Galapagos

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Shark Guardian has just unveiled their largest and most exciting expedition yet: a seven-night, eight-day adventure in August 2026 aboard the Galaxy Diver II, a state-of-the-art
vessel specifically designed for divers exploring the enchanting waters of the Galapagos
Islands. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage deeply with marine
conservation in one of the world’s most revered diving destinations.

Shark Guardian is a UK registered charity dedicated to protecting sharks and marine
ecosystems worldwide. Founded by marine biologists and conservationists, Brendon
Sing and Liz Ward-Sing, Shark Guardian leads educational programs, research projects,
campaigns and expeditions aimed at fostering a better understanding and respect for
marine life. Their work spans several continents and focuses on direct action,
education, and advocacy.

Shark Guardian’s ethos revolves around the concept of “diving with a purpose.” This
philosophy underscores the importance of not just experiencing the wonders of the
underwater world but actively learning and contributing to its preservation. Participants
in Shark Guardian expeditions engage in citizen science projects, which involve
collecting data that supports ongoing research and conservation efforts. These
activities empower divers to make a tangible difference, turning each dive into an act of
conservation.

One of the newer additions to the Galapagos diving scene, the Galaxy Diver II, is
specifically tailored for divers. Its design prioritises comfort, safety, and environmental
responsibility. The vessel boasts modern amenities, spacious dive decks, and the latest
navigational technology, ensuring that every dive is not only memorable but also has
minimal environmental impact.

A highlight of this expedition is the opportunity to dive at Wolf and Darwin islands,
renowned for their vibrant, untouched marine ecosystems and as a haven for large
pelagic species. These islands are famous for their schools of hammerhead sharks,
whale sharks, and manta rays, offering spectacular diving that attracts enthusiasts from
around the globe.

Shark Guardian have developed this trip to ensure a hassle-free experience. The
expedition package also includes internal flights from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos,
plus accommodation in Quito before and after the trip. This allows divers to relax and
enjoy the experience without worrying about logistics.

Participants will join a diverse group of passionate divers and conservationists. This trip
offers a unique opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who are eager to
learn about and contribute to marine conservation. It’s a chance to share experiences,
knowledge, and a commitment to protecting the marine world.

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Shark Guardian is offering an early bird price available until May 31st 2024. This special
rate provides a fantastic opportunity to secure a spot on this exclusive expedition at a
reduced cost. Availability is limited, so interested divers are encouraged to act quickly
to ensure they don’t miss out. All the details can be found on their WeTravel page, where
bookings can be made easily and payment instalments are available.

Expedition Galapagos, aboard the Galaxy Diver II offers more than just a diving
holiday—it is an investment in both personal and planetary well-being. By participating,
divers not only witness the majesty of one of the world’s premier diving locales but also
contribute to its preservation for future generations.

Find out more about Shark Guardian at www.sharkguardian.org.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Trust Launches New Podcast

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The Shark Trust has launched their new podcast. Delve behind the scenes and gain exclusive insights in the world of shark and ray conservation on The Shark Trust Podcast. Out Now!

Join the Shark Trust on this journey as they explore the diverse world of sharks. Hear from experts from different backgrounds and learn how you can become a part of the global effort to protect these vital species.

Whether you’re a seasoned shark expert or just dipping your toes beneath the surface, this podcast offers something for everyone!

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In the first series you will hear from the Shark Trust team. Shark Trust Patrons, Monty Halls, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Simon Rogerson. Divers with a passion for sharks. And some of the Oceanic 31 artists.

New episodes released every two weeks on all major podcast platforms and watch full video versions on the Shark Trust YouTube Channel. Keep your eyes peeled for the bonus minisodes!

There are two available to dive into right now!

Episode 1: Dive beneath the waves of shark and ray conservation with Mark as he speaks with Paul Cox, CEO of the Shark Trust. Paul and Mark discuss the threats and difficulties that sharks and rays currently face in the modern world. And how the Shark Trust is working to create a better future for them!

Bonus Minisode: Join Mark at Go Diving, the UK’s biggest dive show. He interviews Shark Trust Patron, Simon Rogerson, about his diving experiences and how seeing sharks can transform your life!

For more information about the work of the Shark Trust, visit their website here.

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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