Sunday, July 30, 2006

Marine wildlife attracts sharks in Britain's waters!

Warmer sea temperatures are attracting a record number and range of exotic sea life to Britain's coastline.

Global warming and hotter summers mean some unusual species are appearing in Britain's traditionally colder waters, according to leading scientists. Dr Simon Vauxhall, a lecturer in oceanography at the University of Southampton, said: "We are seeing a pattern of the typical fish species, such as cod and haddock, exiting the warmer waters and being replaced by more unusual species.

"This is occurring for two reasons; one, generally ocean temperatures have been rising. This is largely down to the effect of global warming. Second, this summer has been just a particularly warm summer in itself. The warm surface water heated by the sun attracts these new species."
Reported sightings of a great white shark and rare mako sharks are one indicator that Britain's coastal wildlife is becoming more varied. A BBC1 documentary, Sharks - Great Whites in Great Britain?, to be broadcast tonight, will examine evidence that the man-eaters are prowling British waters.

Cornish residents were astonished last week to spot 19 sunfish in just two hours. The carnivore can weigh in at two tonnes, exceed three metres in length and is usually found in tropical or sub-tropical seas.

Government figures show British sea temperatures rising gradually over the past 70 to 100 years, with a substantial increase over the past 20 years.

Scientists say as the temperature of British coastal waters rises, British fish are in increasing competition with their more exotic foreign cousins, but experts say warmer temperatures lead to more algae, or more fish food overall.

Dr Boris Kelly-Gerryn, a marine scientist at the National Oceanographic Centre, added: "When temperatures rise it improves the conditions in which algae grow, so it is likely that more food allows species that are moving northwards from the south to have enough to survive in British waters."


Can weigh up to two tonnes, grow to three metres and is the world's largest bony fish. Normally found in South America

SHORTFIN MAKO SHARK Isurus oxyrinchus

Named after the Maori for 'man eater', it feeds on other sharks and porpoises and is seldom found in temperatures below 16c

SLIPPER LOBSTER Scyllarus arctus

This clawless crustacean found in warm waters can grow to 50cm. Three have been found off Cornwall since 2002

GREAT WHITE SHARK Carcharodon carcharias

With up to 3,000 teeth, the great white swallows its food whole. Can grow to 7m in length. Seen off southern coast of England

BARRACUDA Sphyraenidae sphyraenus

Known to attack humans, can grow to two metres and weigh 45kg. One was caught off the south coast two years ago

SNAPPING SHRIMP Alpheus heterochaelis

Known as 'underwater urbanites' because they live in colonies. They are tropical natives but are now on Britain's coastline


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