Wildlife Trusts from across the UK have published their annual reviews, highlighting the diversity of the seas and coasts. Of those, Cornwall Wildlife Trust says a number rare sightings in 2022 are a testament to how “spectacular life is below the waves”. The discoveries this year include a 100-year-old Greenland shark washed up at Newlyn, Cornwall, and a rare colourful sea slug spotted off the coast of the Isles of Scilly – a first for UK waters. The colourful creature, officially named Babakina anadoni, measures just 2cm in length. It was captured on camera by Seasearch volunteer Allen Murray during a dive near Melledgan, an uninhabited rock island in the Isles of Scilly, during The Wildlife Trust’s National Marine Week. The species – a member of the aeolid nudibranch family – has only been recorded a handful of times along the West coast of Spain and further south in the Atlantic.
Beyond this, experts say the sightings of whales show how populations are recovering following bans on commercial whaling, after a humpback whale was spotted near Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula.
In the summer, Cornwall Wildlife Trust reported huge numbers of octopuses around the Lizard Peninsula, which experts suggest is the sign of a healthy population and possible octopus boom – last recorded 70 years ago.
But a host of pressures are threatening the seas, from the global avian flu pandemic which has killed thousands of seabirds across the UK, to pollution including oil spills and plastic, as well as people irresponsibly disturbing wildlife.
Wildlife Trusts have also seen some good news for seabirds with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust building almost 50 nest boxes for Manx shearwaters.
Image: This Babakina adononi sea slug was spotted for the first time in UK waters off the coast of the Isles of Scilly Credit: Wildlife Trusts