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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

World Wildlife Day: incredible UK sea life in pictures



Today is World Wildlife Day. The Marine Conservation Society have compiled incredible underwater photography from UK seas, showcasing how special our wildlife is.

Seasoned underwater photographers share how they captured amazing scenes of UK wildlife; get inspired to dive in yourself. While the images below show the colourful and curious world under the surface of the UK’s seas, these fragile ecosystems are in urgent need of protection and restoration. Without a healthy ocean, we cannot have a healthy planet.  

To learn more about the Marine Conservation Society’s work, and how to get involved with the Seasearch project, please visit the charity’s website: Marine Conservation Society | Home (  

  • Compass jellyfish, Falmouth, Cornwall by Martin Stevens - “The jellyfish is a compass jellyfish, smaller individual from Falmouth, Cornwall in springtime. A nice encounter with a great species, locally. Taken under overcast skies, moody weather, one of the first compass jellyfish of the year.”

  • Variable blenny, Babbacombe, south Devon by Dan Bolt - “The variable blenny is a relative newcomer to UK waters, arriving from the Mediterranean as a summer visitor some years ago, but is now firmly established in Babbacombe all year round. As their name suggests they are variable in colour, not only between male and female, but also when either mating or looking after a clutch of delicate eggs for weeks at a time.”

  • Firework anemone (Pachycerianthus multiplicatus), Inverary, Loch Fyne by Dan Bolt - “As the UK’s biggest anemone, the Firework anemone can have a stalk and tentacles of up to 30cm long. Usually restricted to deeper waters, in many western Sea Lochs in Scotland they are accessible to sport divers. These beautiful creatures also have a party trick: under UV light they fluoresce and emit blue and green light and display patterns not seen under daylight.”

  • Edible crab, Ar. Abbs, Berwickshire marine reserve by Georgie Bull - “Over the summer I visited St. Abbs and was blown away by how many crabs and lobsters there were. The Berwickshire Marine Reserve is a very special place to dive because it is a voluntary no-take zone. Many of the marine animals here have no need to fear divers and exist in higher numbers than outside of the reserve.”

  • John Dory, Dorset by Georgie Bull - “I have always had a soft spot for John Dory. When I first started diving in Dorset, we were gifted with many summer nights full of John Dory. I hadn't seen one for years, but this summer they returned in good number, and I spent a good 10 minutes with this individual who was very keen to check themselves out in the reflection of my dome lens.”

  • Hermit crab and other molluscs on kelp, Shetland by Kirsty Andrews - “The closer you look, the more you see.  I was drawn to this tiny but colourful hermit crab on a piece of kelp in the shallows in Shetland, but I didn't appreciate until I looked closer that its shell was in turn covered in life, such as lampshells, pink encrusting algae and at the very top, a topshell.  Quite the vibrant community.”

  • Pair of wolf fish, Berwickshire marine reserve by Kirsty Andrews - “The Berwickshire marine reserve on the Scottish borders is the most reliable spot for UK divers to see charismatic wolf fish in their rocky lairs.  They usually live singly but on one September trip, I spotted five separate pairs huddled together in different rocky hollows.  Clearly, love is in the air for wolffish in the Autumn.”

  • Facelina auriculata, Lunna, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “An absolute stunner of a nudibranch (sea slug)! Not as common as some of the other species we find here in Shetland, which makes them even more special. Caught by the sun's rays they almost seem to sparkle. It's amazing that such tiny, delicate creatures can survive in the wild seas around Shetlands coastline. Our kelp forests around Scotland are rich with life, the biodiversity in these forests is breath-taking and we need to protect them!”

  • Painted top-shell, Boddam, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “One of the prettiest molluscs we find up here on the Shetland islands. This one looks to be feeding on a sea-mat which is a type of bryozoan which encrusts kelp fronds. Their stunning shells, which swash up on our beaches, are a prized find for beach combers, but they are much more stunning when alive. If you look closely, you can see its eye poking out from under the shell.”

  • Common Sunstar, Levenwick, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “Typical rocky Shetland reef capped with a beautiful forest of kelp. This large common sunstar seemed to be making its way up into the kelp forest, likely in search of food. A beautiful starfish but also a voracious predator and scavenger. Once their prey has been caught by one of its many arms, they extrude their stomach out of their mouth and partially digest the meal, a gruesome end.”

  • Curled octopus, Toft pier, Shetland Islands by Billy Arthur - “Instantly a great dive when an octopus encounter is involved! Being quite sheltered and having lots of prey available for them, this site is a hotspot for curled octopus. It was already watching me when I finally noticed its presence, which is nearly always the case with these masters of camouflage. The plumose anemones which carpet the seabed in patches make it a very special place.”

  • Basking Shark, Isle of Coll by Mark Kirkland - “Through late summer the basking shark passes though the Isles of Coll and Tiree in huge numbers on its migratory journey north. Despite being the second largest fish in the sea (up to nine meters long) and a close relative to the great white shark, it's completely harmless, with a preference for microscopic plankton as it's food. This split shot was taken on a glorious evening's snorkel with three large individuals.”

  • Bobtail Squid, Loch Long by Mark Kirkland - “As winter creeps in, the tiny Bobtail Squid rises from the depths of the sealochs to breed. Through September and October, they can be found in depths as shallow as ten metres. Often no larger than a golf ball, a macro lens is preferable to get the glorious and colourful details. This shot shows an eye and siphon.”

  • Anglerfish, Lophius Piscatorius, Chesil Cove, Dorset by Jon Bunker - “Among the most beautiful of our ground-dwelling fishes, the angler fish's mottled brown tones and leafy protrusions of skin make it almost undistinguishable from the rocky, weed strewn ground that divers often encounter them in. Broad circular pectoral fins seem to grip the seabed like clasping hands on either side of the massive, dustbin-lid head. Ahead of a decreasing series of weed-like dorsal spines, the anglerfish wafts its distinctive lure or ‘illicium’ to entice unwary prey into its cavernous mouth.”

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Sharks with Unusual Names



This month we’re talking about some sharks with unusual names. With names that range from the descriptive to the downright strange. Let’s look at three species with weird and wonderful names!

Tasseled Wobbegong

The Tasseled Wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) is a species of carpet shark found in the shallow coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific. This unique shark gets its name from the tassels that hang from its chin and the sides of its head, making it look like it’s wearing a fancy carpet. The scientific name of the Tasseled Wobbegong, Eucrossorhinus dasypogon, comes from the Greek words “eu” meaning good, “krossoi” meaning fringe, “rhinos” meaning nose, and “dasys” meaning hairy, and “pogon” meaning beard, referring to the shark’s characteristic tassels.

The Tasseled Wobbegong has a broad, flattened head and a body that is covered in small, thorn-like projections. These projections, called dermal denticles, are a common feature of shark skin and help to protect the shark from predators and parasites. The Tasseled Wobbegong’s skin is also covered in a unique pattern of dark spots and stripes that allows it to camouflage itself on the reef floor. With their striking appearance and docile nature, they are a favorite of divers and underwater photographers.

Wobbegong Shark © Andy Murch

Despite their wild appearance, Tasseled Wobbegongs are relatively docile and are known to be tolerant of human divers. They are primarily nocturnal, spending most of their days hiding in crevices and under overhangs on the reef. At night, they venture out to hunt small fish and crustaceans, using their powerful jaws to crush their prey.

Although the Tasseled Wobbegong is not considered to be a threatened species, it is facing increasing pressure from habitat degradation and overfishing. In 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Tasseled Wobbegong as a species of “Least Concern” on their Red List, which is a positive sign that the population is currently stable.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Eucrossorhinus dasypogon

FAMILY: Orectolobidae


DIET: Bony fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods

DISTRIBUTION: Found in the waters around southern Australia, including Tasmania and the Bass Strait.

HABITAT: Shallow, coastal waters with rocky or coral reefs, as well as seagrass beds and sandy areas.


Crocodile Shark

This unique species (Pseudocarcharias kamoharai) is a small and slender-bodied shark. Which was only disovered in 1985! The genus name, Pseudocarcharias, means “false shark,”. While the species name, kamoharai, honors the Japanese ichthyologist, Kamohara. The English common name “crocodile shark” is derived from its Japanese name mizuwani (水鰐, literally “water crocodile”), which refers to its sharp teeth and habit of snapping vigorously when taken out of the water.

The Crocodile Shark is named for its distinct crocodile-like appearance, with a long snout and sharp teeth. With a maximum length of 1.2 meters. This species is found in deep ocean waters around the globe, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, typically at depths of 200 to 500 meters. However, it has been known to venture as deep as 1,000 meters.

What makes the Crocodile Shark particularly unusual is its opportunistic feeding behavior. This means that it will eat just about anything it comes across. Including small fish, squid, and even other sharks. The Crocodile Shark uses a unique hunting technique to catch its prey. Its slender body and elongated snout allow it to navigate through tight spaces and ambush unsuspecting prey, making it a formidable predator despite its small size.

Since being discovered, we’ve not uncovered much about this elusive species. Not much is known about the biology and behavior of Crocodile Sharks. They are rarely encountered. And in 2019, the Crocodile Shark was listed as “data deficient” on the IUCN Red List. This means that not enough is known about the species to determine its conservation status. This elusive species’ DNA has been analysed and they are determined to be closely related to the Megamouth Shark or sand sharks (Odontaspididae). Alternative research, analysis based on teeth structure, suggests that the closest relatives of the crocodile shark are the thresher sharks.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pseudocarcharias kamoharai

FAMILY:  Pseudocarchariidae


DIET: Bony fish and cephalopods

DISTRIBUTION: They are found in tropical and warm temperate waters around the world, including off the coasts of Japan, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil.

HABITAT: Deep offshore waters, typically at depths of 200 to 500 meters, but have been known to come up to shallower depths at night to feed.


Viper Dogfish

The Viper Dogfish (Trigonognathus kabeyai) is a species of deep-sea shark found in the North Pacific Ocean. This unique shark gets its name from its distinctive appearance, which resembles that of a viper snake, due to the long, fang-like teeth protruding from its jaws. The scientific name comes from the Greek words “trigonos” meaning triangular, “gnathos” meaning jaw, and “kabeya” in honor of the late Japanese ichthyologist, Toshiji Kabeya, who made significant contributions to the study of deep-sea sharks.

The Viper Dogfish is a relatively small species of shark, growing up to just 40 centimeters in length. Its body is slim and elongated, with a dark brown or black coloration that allows it to blend in seamlessly with its deep-sea environment. They’re typically found at depths of between 365 and 1,200 meters, where they feed on a variety of prey including small fish, squid, and crustaceans. Their long, fang-like teeth allow them to easily catch and hold onto their prey, despite their small size.

Despite being a relatively unknown species, the Viper Dogfish has been listed as a species of “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Trigonognathus kabeyai

FAMILY: Etmopteridae


DIET: Small fishes and invertebrates

DISTRIBUTION: Northwest and central Pacific: Japan, Taiwan and Hawaiian Islands.

HABITAT: Deep waters, between 250 – 1000m. Possibly oceanic as some have been caught at 150m over water as deep as 1500m.


Banner Image – © Frogfish Photography

Wobbegong – © Andy Murch

Crocodile Shark – © Dianne J. Bray, 2011, Crocodile Shark, Pseudocarcharias kamoharai, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 11 May 2014, | Wikimedia Commons

Viper Dogfish – © Stephen M Kajiura | Wikimedia Commons

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Marine Life & Conservation

To touch or not to touch… that is the question!



I’m in two minds about writing this article as I don’t want divers to think I support general handling and chasing wildlife. I don’t. However I do support gentle communication through touch with other species when the conditions are right. A prime example of this in the film ‘My Octopus Teacher’ which can be seen on Netflix or the trailer on Youtube HERE.

The excerpt below is from a video interview I did with Dove Joans – author, artist, creative conservationist, host, storyteller and explorer – where she asked me on my feelings about touching marine life. For me, my words apply to all marine wildlife from the great whales to the smallest sand crab.

The two part full interview we shared can be seen at and

A few years ago I came across this diver doing everything I deplore about chasing and touching marine life. After the dive we had a good chat.  SO, THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF WHAT NOT TO DO!

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