Otter camera trap video from Scotland


This video from Scotland says about itself:

22 February 2016

Female otter in camera traps on the Sleat peninsula Isle of Skye.

Bad harbour seal news from Scotland


This video from the USA says about itself:

25 June 2013

A harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) mother giving birth to a pup and their first swim. Footage was taken at a harbor seal rookery in southern Puget Sound, Washington during observations in 2004 under NMFS MMPA research permit # 782-1702. Video by Dyanna Lambourn, edited By Caitlin McIntyre, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

From Aquatic Conservation journal:

Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) abundance within the Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary, Scotland: recent trends and extrapolation to extinction

8 December 2015

Abstract

Aerial surveys have detected alarming declines in counts of harbour seals in several regions across Scotland.

Demographic data and simple models were used to examine the recent decline in the numbers of harbour seals counted in one population within a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) on the east coast of Scotland. The models suggest that the continuation of current trends would result in the species effectively disappearing from this area within the next 20 years.

While the cause of the decline is unknown, it must be reducing adult survival because the high rate of decline cannot be wholly accounted for by changes in other demographic parameters.

Recovery of the population to the abundance recorded at the time the SAC was designated (2005) is likely to take at least 40 years, even if the cause of the decline is immediately identified and removed.

The models suggest that partial removal of the cause can have only limited benefits to population recovery, and there are unlikely to be any long-term benefits from introducing or reintroducing additional individuals while the underlying problem persists. Therefore, if the population of harbour seals in this area is to recover it is essential that the sources of the increased mortality are identified and measures are put in place to manage these.

Scottish spy base converted for whales, astronomy?


This video says about itself:

Sunfish, Basking Sharks and Minke Whale encounters with Basking Shark Scotland

27 July 2014

A small video of 2 amazing days in the Hebrides, Scotland. We had warm waters from the Gulf Stream reach our coast bringing in a lot of food and ocean giants. We had 2 Minke Whales swim 4 x under the boat, over 12 basking sharks, ranging from 3m to 6m and a very rare visitor – the ocean sunfish (Mola mola). To top it off we had an otter and sea eagles sighted on the way in, numerous porpoises and many different species of seabird. All in water interactions were guided and closely monitored to ensure they meet our code of practice.

From The Press and Journal in Scotland:

Bid to turn former island Cold War spy base into whale-listening station

31 January 2016 by Mike Merritt

A crowdfunding appeal was launched yesterday to turn a former Cold War spy base in the Outer Hebrides into a whale-listening station and star-gazing observatory.

Locals formally took ownership of the isolated surveillance station at RAF Aird Uig on the Isle of Lewis, which was built to give early warning of a Soviet attack following the end of the Second World War.

They symbolically opened the gates of the complex in a ceremony attended by Western Isles MSP Dr Alasdair Allan.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the advance of satellite technology made the base redundant and a pair of long distance radars which had protected the UK for decades were dismantled.

The Gallan Head Community Trust (GHCT) has used a £200,000 grant from the Scottish Land Fund to purchase the land from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and turn a nearby building into a visitor centre, which should be open in the summer.

The trust plans to demolish some of the buildings at Aird Uig and convert the former base into a tourist attraction featuring an astronomical observatory, gallery and visitor centre, in a project that could cost between £1m and £3m.

They will also install underwater microphones to record whales and basking sharks which swim past the peninsula, the most north westerly point of the UK.

Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod said:”The fact that such a small community has taken this step into community ownership is a testament to the skills, drive and tenacity of the members and directors of GHCT.

“I’m sure that the proposed developments will make a real difference to the local economy and beyond. The Scottish Government is committed to assisting communities in taking control of their own futures, this is why we provide financial support to local communities through the Scottish Land Fund.”

Giant worms discovery on Scottish island


This video from Scotland says about itself:

Giant worms the size of SNAKES are discovered by scientists on abandoned Scottish island

18 January 2016

Researchers says the creatures are three to four times bigger than the average worm and ‘slightly spooky’.

From Wildlife Extra:

Giant worms discovered on remote Scottish island

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares – giant earthworms that, if left alone, keep growing and growing to the size of a baby snake. But this is no bad dream – scientists working on the Isle of Rum, off the coast of Scotland, have found the biggest specimens ever seen in the UK, more than three times the length and weight of a normal worm.

The exceptionally large invertebrates measure up 40 cm (1.3 ft) long, having blossomed due to rich soil and a lack of predators. They’re similar in size to a newly-hatched adder.

In an interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Dr Kevin Butt, lead researcher on the earthworm study, carried out by the University of Central Lancashire, said: “These things weigh about twelve and a half grams – but the normal size for these things is about four to five grams.”

The worms, Latin name Lumbricus terrestris, were found at Papadil, an abandoned settlement on Rum, which is home to a tiny population of around 30 people.

“When these things came out of their burrows they were like small snakes,” he said.

However, far from being the stuff of nightmares, Dr Butt told the Telegraph the existence of the worms was “a delight” to discover as they are crucial to the ecosystem, and help lessen the risk of flooding.

“Without their activities we’d be a lot worse off. They’re just as important as bees are in pollinating plants. They help aerate the soil and drain away water and stop surface erosion,” he explained.

Dr Butt believes the Rum worms are bigger than average due to their remote, undisturbed location, with good quality soil. Rum also lacks predators such as badgers, moles, hedgehogs and foxes which would usually gobble the worms before they had chance to grow into monsters. Unlike most animals, which stop growing once they reach an adult size, earthworms keep on growing if left alone.

“These things have just have been left and have grown bigger and bigger,” explained Dr Butt, who has been studying earthworms for around 30 years.

Asked if an enthusiastic schoolboy might be able to achieve a similarly giant specimen by looking after it at home, he confirmed this is possible.

“In the laboratory we can keep them and feed them well and in a matter of a couple of years you can grow them to 15, even 20 grams,” he said.

However, those spooked by the idea of giant worms have little to fear if they visit Rum.

“If they feel footsteps they will just go down deeper into the earth. They’re not going to jump out and grab people,” he said.

News of the Papadil worms is contained in a paper recently published in The Glasgow Naturalist journal.

From giant rats to dwarf elephants, island living changes mammals. Island mammals evolve differently from those on the mainland – which can be clearly seen in fossils such as the giant ‘terror shrew’ or dwarf hippopotamus: here.

Puffins in Scotland, video


This 2011 video, recorded in Scotland, says about itself:

A short wildlife documentary about Atlantic puffins on the Isle of May. Run time approx. 14 mins.

Atlantic puffins return to the Isle of May each summer where they breed in their tens of thousands. Challenges abound, including the threat of predators, squabbles over burrows and finding a mate. Towards the end of the season, newly hatched pufflings face the journey to their ocean home alone under cover of darkness.

Mysteriously, during recent years the puffins have been facing an even greater challenge that has caused a dramatic population decline. Up to 30% of breeding puffins have simple disappeared. What is the force behind this alarming decline?