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Marine Life & Conservation

Mass strandings of Portuguese Man of War on UK beaches marking World Jellyfish Day

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Beachgoers in South West reporting large numbers of jellyfish-like creatures to the Marine Conservation Society’s Jellyfish Survey

The 3rd November marks World Jellyfish Day, a celebration of the many weird, wonderful and beautiful beings which make their way into UK waters.  This year, the Marine Conservation Society’s Jellyfish Survey has received several reports of a bizarre jellyfish-like creature washing up in large numbers on UK shores.

The Portuguese Man of War is often mistaken for a jellyfish but is, in fact, a colony of hydrozoans – so a ‘they’ rather than an ‘it’. Characterised by an oval, transparent float with many hanging ‘fishing polyps’ which can be tens of metres long, it’s easy to see how they can be mistaken for jellyfish. The sting of a Portuguese Man of War is extremely powerful and as such, can be dangerous to humans.

Image: Joanna Clegg

Whilst sightings of the Physalia physalis are relatively rare on UK shores, there’s been a recent influx of reports of them on the South West coast.

Dr Peter Richardson, Head of Ocean Recovery at the Marine Conservation Society: “Through our online jellyfish survey, we started receiving reports of Portuguese Man of War on beaches in south Wales in September. Through October we have continued to receive reports of them from Devon and Cornwall beaches, with mass strandings in Cornwall this weekend. The weather will be blowing them in from the Atlantic as part of another major Portuguese Man of War stranding event. The last stranding, in similar conditions, was in 2017 and they seem to be getting more frequent since we started our survey in 2003.”

“We urge beach users not to touch them because they pack a very powerful sting, but please do report them on our website so we can better understand the extent of this stranding event.”

The Marine Conservation Society has worked closely with the University of Exeter on the Jellyfish Survey. In 2014 they published the UK distributions and seasonality of eight jellyfish and jellyfish-like species, including the Portuguese Man of War, based on the data collected from the survey. This was the first time UK jellyfish had been mapped in over 40 years, and, using the power of citizen science, the charity intends to track changes in jellyfish bloom distribution and seasonality over time.

Professor Brendan Godley Chair in Conservation Science at the University of Exeter said: “The Marine Conservation Society’s Jellyfish Survey is an incredibly helpful tool in mapping these sort of mass stranding events of jellyfish. Since beginning to collect information in 2003, the survey has built up a fantastic data set which helps us understand how jellyfish species react to environmental changes. Identifying where jellyfish are blooming around UK shores gives an insight into how they are reacting to the effects of climate change such as ocean warming.

“The current influx is, no doubt, resultant from the extremely strong winds that we have been enduring in the southwest”

For more information on the different species of jellyfish (or otherwise!) that can be found on UK beaches, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

To help contribute to the charity’s ongoing Jellyfish Survey, sightings of jellyfish (and other animals) can be reported on the website here.

Marine Life & Conservation

Video Series: The CCMI Reef Lectures – Part 4 (Watch Video)

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Introduced by Jeff Goodman

Never before since human beings have had major influence over our earths climate and environments, have we come to so close to the brink of global disaster for our seas and marine life. We need to act now if we are not going to crash headlong into irreversible scenarios.

A good start to this is understanding how the marine environment works and what it means to our own continued survival. We can only do this by listening and talking to those with the experience and knowledge to guide us in the right direction.

CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) are hosting an annual Reef Lecture series that is open to the general public and Scubaverse will be sharing those lectures over the coming months.


Part 4: Stop Whining! Life as an Ocean Ambassador; Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts shares her insights on how to act, practice what you preach and use your voice to contribute to constructive change. Ellen is a wildlife and underwater photographer and chooses to take images of subjects that are hard to encounter like harp seal pups, polar bears, orcas, beluga whales and sharks, to name a few. By telling the stories about their environment and the challenges they face, she raises awareness about the effect of climate change on arctic species, the cruel act of shark finning and keeping marine mammals in captivity.

During this seminar, Ellen will take you on a virtual trip and show you the stories behind the shots: how to get there, how to prepare, how to create the most chances to come home with a shot, and how to never give up!

Ellen Cuylaerts is an ocean advocate, underwater & wildlife photographer, explorer, and public speaker.


For more information about the CCMI click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Fit filters in washing machines and slow the tide of ocean plastic

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The Marine Conservation Society’s Stop Ocean Threads campaign, which is calling for all new washing machines to be fitted with microfibre filters, by law, by 2024, aims to stop plastic pollution at source by filtering microscopic plastics from washing machine waste water.

To date the charity’s petition has been signed by over 12,000 people. The petition calls on government to introduce legislation which requires all new washing machines to be fitted with microfibre filters by law. Now, the charity is taking direct action and encouraging supporters to tweet washing machine manufacturers, putting pressure on them to fit filters on all new washing machines and slow the tide of microfibres entering the ocean.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Marine Conservation Society revealed that most (81%) adults surveyed supported legislative change and a quarter (26%) of those said that they would be willing to pay an additional £50 or more for a washing machine fitted with a microfibre filter. Not only is there is clear public support for legislation to Stop Ocean Threads, but consumers are willing to pay extra for their washing machines to have ocean-friendly credentials.

It’s increasingly important to put this issue top of the agenda for washing machine manufacturers who can take action now helping to address the microplastic issue, rather than waiting for legislation to be put in place.

Dr Laura Foster, Marine Conservation Society’s Head of Clean Seas says: “Our research has found that the public is largely supportive of our call for legislation, and consumers are willing to pay a little more to reduce the flow of microplastics into the ocean.

“It’s fantastic to see the support our petition has received so far, but now we need the public to show their support and join our action to engage with manufacturers directly. If we can show manufacturers that the public wants these filters fitted as soon as possible, we hope to speed up the legislative process and get filters fitted in the near future.”

Members of the public are encouraged by the Marine Conservation Society to go direct to washing machine manufacturers, and get involved in the charity’s tweet action.

“Hey @Miele_GB @BekoUK @Hoover_UK @BoschUK @SamsungUK @WhirlpoolCorp  We want washing machine manufacturers to commit to fitting microfibre filters before 2024. Will you do this and help us #StopOceanThreads? Please retweet and share far and wide”

To sign the charity’s Stop Ocean Threads petition, visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website. Find out more on how to get involved in the direct action here.

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