Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Marine megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: relative abundance and distribution

  • Ruth H. Leeney (a1) (a2), Matthew J. Witt (a1), Annette C. Broderick (a1), John Buchanan (a3), Daniel S. Jarvis (a4), Peter B. Richardson (a1) (a5) and Brendan J. Godley (a1)...

Abstract

We document patterns of distribution and relative abundance of marine megavertebrate fauna around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from a combination of aerial and boat-based surveying. Between January 2006 and November 2007, 20 aerial surveys were undertaken, comprising over 40 hours of on-effort flying time. In April to October of these years, 27 effort-corrected ferry surveys were also conducted from a passenger ferry travelling between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Opportunistic sightings were also logged by the crew members of the ferry and another vessel travelling regularly along the same route on 155 days. Ten megavertebrate species were sighted: basking sharks Cetorhinus maximus, sunfish Mola mola, common dolphins Delphinus delphis, harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, grey seals Halichoerus grypus, Risso's dolphins Grampus griseus, bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus, minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata, long-finned pilot whales Globicephala melas and killer whale Orcinus orca. During aerial surveys, 206 sighting events of seven species were made, compared with 145 sighting events of eight species during ferry surveys and 293 sighting events of 10 species from opportunistic ship-board data collection efforts. Seasonal and spatial patterns in species occurrence were evident. Basking sharks were the most commonly-sighted species in the region and were relatively abundant throughout the estimated 5 km-wide strip of coastal waters covered by the aerial surveys, during spring and summer. Ferry surveys and opportunistic vessel-based sightings data confirmed that the distribution of surface-feeding aggregations of this species was largely around the coasts. Despite the limited scope of this study, it has provided valuable baseline data, and possible insights into the marine biodiversity of the region.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Marine megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: relative abundance and distribution
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Marine megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: relative abundance and distribution
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Marine megavertebrates of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly: relative abundance and distribution
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: R.H. Leeney, School of Marine Science & Engineering, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, UK email: ruleeney@yahoo.co.uk

References

Hide All
Bloomfield, A. and Solandt, J.-L. (2007) The Marine Conservation Society Basking Shark Watch 20-year report (1987–2006). Ross-on-Wye, UK: Marine Conservation Society, 67 pp.
Bost, C.A., Cotté, C., Bailleul, F., Cherel, Y., Charrassin, J.B., Guinet, C., Ainley, D.G. and Weimerskirch, H. (2009) The importance of oceanographic fronts to marine birds and mammals of the southern oceans. Journal of Marine Systems 78, 363376.
Campana, S.E., Gibson, J., Brazner, J., Marks, L., Joyce, W., Gosselin, J.-F. and Kenney, R.D. (2008) Status of basking sharks in Atlantic Canada. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2008/004, http://www.marinebiodiversity.ca/shark/english/document/basking%20shark%20Res%20Doc%202008_004_e.pdf
Cartamil, D.P. and Lowe, C.G. (2004) Diel movement patterns of ocean sunfish Mola mola off southern California. Marine Ecology Progress Series 266, 245253.
Evans, P.G.H., Anderwald, P. and Baines, M.E. (2003) UK Cetacean Status Review. English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales and Sea Watch Foundation: Oxford, 160 pp.
Gomez de Segura, A., Hammond, P.S. and Raga, J.A. (2008) Influence of environmental factors on small cetacean distribution in the Spanish Mediterranean. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 88, 11851192.
Gore, M.A., Rowat, D., Hall, J., Gell, F.R. and Ormond, R.F. (2008) Transatlantic migration and deep mid-ocean diving by basking shark. Biology Letters 4, 395398.
Hammond, P.S., Berggren, P., Benke, H., Borchers, D.L., Collet, A., Heide-Jørgensen, M.P., Heimlich, S., Hiby, A.R., Leopold, M.F. and Øien, N. (2002) Abundance of harbour porpoise and other cetaceans in the North Sea and adjacent waters. Journal of Applied Ecology 39, 361376.
Hammond, P.S. (2006) Small cetaceans in the European Atlantic and North Sea (SCANS-II) Final Report. LIFE04NAT/GB/000245, 54 pp. http://biology.st-andrews.ac.uk/scans2/documents/final/SCANS-II_final_report.pdf
Hastie, G.D., Barton, T.R., Grellier, K., Hammond, P.S., Swift, R.J., Thompson, P.M. and Wilson, B. (2003) Distribution of small cetaceans within a candidate Special Area of Conservation; implications for management. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 5, 261266.
Hawkes, L.A., Broderick, A.C., Godfrey, M.H. and Godley, B.J. (2009) Review: climate change and marine turtles. Endangered Species Research 7, 137154.
Houghton, J.D.R., Doyle, T.K., Davenport, J. and Hays, G.C. (2006a) Jellyfish aggregations and leatherback turtle foraging patterns in a temperate coastal environment. Ecology 87, 19671972.
Houghton, J.D.R., Doyle, T.K., Davenport, J. and Hays, G.C. (2006b) The ocean sunfish Mola mola: insights into distribution, abundance and behaviour in the Irish and Celtic Seas. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 86, 12371243.
Inger, R.I., Attrill, M.J., Bearhop, S., Broderick, A.C., Grecian, W.J., Hodgson, D.J., Mills, C., Sheehan, E., Votier, S.C., Witt, M.J. and Godley, B.J. (2009) Marine renewable energy: potential benefits to biodiversity? An urgent call for research. Journal of Applied Ecology 46, 11451153.
IUCN (2011) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. www.iucnredlist.org
Jepson, P.D. (ed.) (2005) Cetacean strandings investigation and co-ordination in the UK. Report to DEFRA for the period 1st January 2000–31st December 2004. NHM consulting, Environment: coastal and marine sector.
Kunzlik, P. (1988) The basking shark. Aberdeen, UK: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland.
Leaper, R., Fairbairns, R., Gordon, J., Hiby, A., Lovell, P. and Papastavrou, V. (1997) Analysis of data collected from a whalewatching operation to assess relative abundance and distribution of the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) around the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47, 505511.
Leeney, R.H., Amies, R., Broderieck, A., Doyle, J., Loveridge, J., Witt, M.J. and Godley, B.J. (2008) Spatio-temporal patterns of cetacean strandings in a fisheries hotspot. Biodiversity and Conservation 17, 23232338.
Leeney, R.H., Broderick, A.C., Mills, C., Sayer, S., Witt, M.J. and Godley, B.J. (2010) Abundance, site fidelity and haul-out behaviour of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, UK. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 90, 10331040. doi:10.1017/S0025315409991512
Lewison, R.L., Crowder, L.B., Read, A.J. and Freeman, S.A. (2004) Understanding impacts of fisheries bycatch on marine megafauna. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19, 598604.
MacLeod, C.D. (2009) Global climate change, range changes and potential implications for the conservation of marine cetaceans: a review and synthesis. Endangered Species Research 7, 125136.
MacLeod, C.D., Bannon, S.M., Pierce, G.J., Schweder, C., Learmonth, J.A., Herman, J.S. and Reid, R.J. (2005) Climate change and the cetacean community of north-west Scotland. Biological Conservation 124, 477483.
MacLeod, C.D., Weir, C.R., Begoña Santos, M. and Dunn, T.E. (2008) Temperature-based summer habitat partitioning between white-beaked and common dolphins around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 88, 11931198.
MacLeod, K., Fairbairns, R., Gill, A., Fairbairns, B., Gordon, J., Blair-Myers, C. and Parsons, E.C.M. (2004) Seasonal distribution of minke whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata in relation to physiography and prey off the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Marine Ecology Progress Series 277, 263274.
Marsh, H. and Saalfeld, W.K. (1989) Aerial surveys of sea turtles in the Northern Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Australian Wildlife Research 16, 239249.
Mendes, S., Turrell, W., Lütkebohle, T. and Thompson, P. (2002) Influence of the tidal cycle and a tidal intrusion front on the spatio-temporal distribution of coastal bottlenose dolphins. Marine Ecology Progress Series 239, 221229.
Northridge, S., Kingston, A., Thomas, L. and Mackay, A. (2007) Second annual report on the UK cetacean bycatch monitoring scheme. Contract report to DEFRA on the work conducted 2005–2006. Sea Mammal Research Unit, June 2007.
Palka, D. (1995) Effects of Beaufort sea state on the sightability of harbor porpoise in the Gulf of Maine. Report from the International Whaling Commission 56, 575582.
Penrose, R.S. and Gander, L.R. (2007) UK & Republic of Ireland Marine Turtle Strandings & Sightings—Annual Report 2006. Report compiled by Marine Environmental Monitoring, Wales, UK, 27 pp.
Penrose, R.S. and Gander, L.R. (2008) UK & Republic of Ireland Marine Turtle Strandings & Sightings—Annual Report 2007. Report compiled by Marine Environmental Monitoring, Wales, UK, 26 pp.
Perry, A.L., Low, P.J., Ellis, J.R. and Reynolds, J.D. (2005) Climate change and distribution shifts in marine fishes. Science 308, 19121915.
Petersen, S. (2005) Initial bycatch assessment: South Africa's domestic longline fishery, 2000–2003. Domestic pelagic longline fishery: Bycatch Report 2000–2003, BirdLife South Africa, 45 pp.
Pierpoint, C. (2008) Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) foraging strategy at a high energy, near-shore site in south-west Wales, UK. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 88, 11671173.
Pikesley, S.K., Witt, M.J., Hardy, T., Loveridge, J., Loveridge, J., Williams, R. and Godley, B.J. (2011) Cetacean sightings and strandings: evidence for spatial and temporal trends? Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. doi: 10.1017/S0025315411000464.
Reid, J.B., Evans, P.G.H. and Northridge, S.P. (2003) Atlas of cetacean distribution in north-west European waters. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 75 pp.
Robinson, K.P., Tetley, M.J. and Mitchelson-Jacob, E.G. (2009) The distribution and habitat preference of coastally occurring minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in the outer southern Moray Firth, northeast Scotland. Journal of Coastal Conservation 13, 3948
Roos, D., Pelletier, D., Ciccione, S., Taquet, M. and Hughes, G. (2005) Aerial and snorkelling census techniques for estimating green turtle abundance on foraging areas: a pilot study in Mayotte Island (Indian Ocean). Aquatic Living Resources 18, 193198.
Rowat, D., Gore, M., Meekan, M.G., Lawler, I.R. and Bradshaw, C.J.A. (2009) Aerial survey as a tool to estimate whale shark abundance trends. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 368, 18.
Ryan, C. and Wilson, P. (2003) Observations on the behaviour of a pod of killer whales Orcinus orca L. that visited Cork Harbour in 2001. Irish Naturalists' Journal 27, 187191.
SCOS (Special Committee on Seals) (2008) Scientific ddvice on matters related to the management of seal populations. St Andrews: Sea Mammal Research Unit, 98 pp.
Shepard, E.L.C., Ahmed, M.Z., Southall, E.J., Witt, M.J., Metcalfe, J.D. and Sims, D.W. (2006) Diel and tidal rhythms in diving behaviour of pelagic sharks identified by signal processing of archival tagging data. Marine Ecology Progress Series 328, 205213.
Silvani, L., Gazo, M. and Aguilar, A. (1999) Spanish driftnet fishing and incidental catches in the western Mediterranean. Biological Conservation 90, 7985.
Simon, M., Nuuttila, H., Reyes-Zamudio, M.M., Ugarte, F., Verfuβ, U. and Evans, P.G.H. (2010) Passive acoustic monitoring of bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise, in Cardigan Bay, Wales, with implications for habitat use and partitioning. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 90, 15391545. doi:10.1017/S0025315409991226
Sims, D.W., Fox, A.M. and Merrett, D.A. (1997) Basking shark occurrence off south-west England in relation to zooplankton abundance. Journal of Fisheries Biology 61, 436440.
Sims, D.W. and Quayle, V.A. (1998) Selective foraging behaviour of basking sharks on zooplankton in a small-scale front. Nature 393, 460464.
Sims, D.W., Queiroz, N., Doyle, T.K., Houghton, J.D.R. and Hays, G.C. (2009) Satellite tracking of the World's largest bony fish, the ocean sunfish (Mola mola L.) in the North East Atlantic. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 370, 127133.
Sims, D.W. and Southall, E.J. (2002) Occurrence of ocean sunfish, Mola mola near fronts in the western English Channel. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 82, 927928.
Sims, D.W., Southall, E.J., Richardson, A.J., Reid, P.C. and Metcalfe, J.D. (2003) Seasonal movements and behaviour of basking sharks from archival tagging: no evidence of winter hibernation. Marine Ecology Progress Series 248, 187196.
Sims, D.W., Southall, E.J., Tarling, G.A. and Metcalfe, J.D. (2005) Habitat-specific normal and reverse diel vertical migration in the plankton-feeding basking shark. Journal of Animal Ecology 74, 755761.
Skomal, G.B., Zeeman, S.I., Chisholm, J.H., Summers, E.L., Walsh, H.J., McMahon, K.W. and Thorrold, S.R. (2009) Transequatorial migrations by basking sharks in the Western Atlantic Ocean. Current Biology 19, 10191022.
Soykan, C.U., Moore, J.E., Zydelis, R., Crowder, L.B., Safina, C. and Lewison, R.L. (2008) Why study bycatch? An introduction to the Theme Section on fisheries bycatch. Endangered Species Research 5, 91102.
Southall, E.J., Sims, D.W., Metcalfe, J.D., Doyle, J.I., Fanshawe, P.S., Lacey, C., Shrimpton, J., Solandt, J.-L. and Speedie, C.D. (2005) Spatial distribution patterns of basking sharks on the European shelf: preliminary comparison of satellite-tag geolocation, survey and public sightings data. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 85, 10831088.
Southall, E.J., Sims, D.W., Witt, M.J. and Metcalfe, J.D. (2006) Seasonal space-use estimates of basking sharks in relation to protection and political–economic zones in the North-east Atlantic. Biological Conservation 132, 3339.
Squire, J.L. Jr (1990) Distribution and apparent abundance of the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus, off the central and southern California coast, 1962–85. Marine Fisheries Review 52, 811.
Summers, C.F. (1974) The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Biological Conservation 6, 285291.
Teilmann, J. (1995) Influence of seastate on abundance estimates of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Report to the International Whaling Commission SC/47/SM45.
Tetley, M.J., Mitchelson-Jacob, E.G. and Robinson, K.P. (2008) The summer distribution of coastal minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in the southern Moray Firth, NE Scotland, in relation to co-occurring meso-scale oceanographic features. Remote Sensing of Environment 112, 34493454. DOI:10.1016/j.rse.2007.10.015
Tregenza, N.J.C. (1992) Fifty years of cetacean sightings from the Cornish coast, SW England. Biological Conservation 59, 6570.
Weir, C., Canning, S., Hepworth, K., Sim, I. and Stockin, K.A. (2008) A long-term opportunistic photo-identification study of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off Aberdeen, United Kingdom: conservation value and limitations. Aquatic Mammals 34, 436447. DOI 10.1578/AM.34.4.2008.436
Weir, C.R., Pollock, C., Cronin, C. and Taylor, S. (2001) Cetaceans of the Atlantic Frontier, north and west of Scotland. Continental Shelf Research 21, 10471071.
Wheeler, A. (1969) The fishes of the British Isles and northwest Europe. London: Macmillan.
Witt, M.J. and Godley, B.J. (2007) A step towards seascape scale conservation: using vessel monitoring systems (VMS) to map fishing activity. PLoS One 2, e1111. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001111.
Witt, M.J., Broderick, A.C., Johns, D.J., Martin, C., Penrose, R., Hoogemoed, M.S. and Godley, B.J. (2007a) Prey landscapes help identify potential foraging habitats for leatherback turtles in the NE Atlantic. Marine Ecology Progress Series 337, 231243.
Witt, M.J., Hawkes, L.A., Godfrey, M.H., Godley, B.J. and Godley, B.J. (2010) Predicting the impacts of climate change on a globally distributed species: the case of the loggerhead turtle. Journal of Experimental Biology 213, 901911.
Witt, M.J., Penrose, R. and Godley, B.J. (2007b) Spatio-temporal patterns of juvenile marine turtle occurrence in waters of the European continental shelf. Marine Biology 151, 873885.
Wood, C.J. (1998) Movement of bottlenose dolphins around the south-west coast of Britain. Journal of Zoology 246, 155163.
Wynn, R.B., Brereton, T.M., Jones, A.R. and Lewis, K.M. (2010) SeaWatch SW Annual Report 2009. Southampton: National Oceanography Centre, 118 pp. Available at http://www.seawatch-sw.org/downloads/SWSW_AR2009_long.pdf

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Leeney Supplementary Material
Leeney Supplementary Material

 PDF (410 KB)
410 KB

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed