British coastlines take on Mediterranean flavour

Climate change is increasing the number of exotic species in British waters


Holiday makers at the British seaside may get a taste of the exotic this year, with tropical marine life spotted for the first time off the coastlines of Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire and Sussex.
Warm water species such as the thresher shark, known for its long tail used to stun its prey, are among the unusual marine life seen.
Stingray, triggerfish, ocean sun fish and even the rare bluefin tuna have been seen in the waters off the south coast, and anchovies, hake, dab, John Dory, sea bass, squid and red mullet are being caught in the North Sea.
It’s not just marine biologists and fishermen who have spotted these exotic creatures; last year an amateur spear fisherman caught and killed a bluefin tuna in Dorset, prompting the Dorset Wildlife Trust to request reports of sightings of the species. Also, Mr Miller of Devon spotted a thresher shark while fishing in August last year.
This influx of exciting marine life comes at a price, however. This diversity of marine species is because of the rise in sea temperature, taken as evidence of global warming.
Sightings of new species are going hand in hand with the decline of native fish, such as cod and haddock. Threats from the evasive species as well as new diseases could also threaten the natives.
Richard Benyon, the UK Marine Environment Minister, said: “The truth is that climate change is having a big impact on distribution of fish stocks and this is going to present some significant challenges for policymakers, fisheries managers and for fishing industry itself.”