The BBC has a nice slideshow of extremely rare critters that have just been given common English names to go with their existing Latin ones. Actually the fourth picture in the list makes me wonder if my 'orange wasp' from a few days ago might be a sort of cuckoo bee.


The BBC reports that the UK government has created a new marine reserve twice the size of the UK itself around the Chagos Islands. These 60 or so islands are out in the Indian Ocean, forming part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, and contain the Diego Garcia US air base.

The reserve comprises 545,000 square kilometres of ocean, atolls and reefs, which apparently doubles the global coverage of the world's oceans under protection. That's either a highly impressive move by the government, or a disappointing indictment of just how little protection the oceans receive globally. Both perhaps.

It's also nice to report on a tropical paradise but still come under the banner of UK Nature, especially when Spring has turned cold and wet here!

According to the BBC, Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre is set to be the home for 'Crabzilla', a Japanese spider crab with limbs more than five feet long – at least until the end of March. You really have to click through to the article to see the picture of a chap holding it. More frightening pictures are available on the Wikipedia page on Japanese spider crabs.


I'm fairly certain this is a Cormorant, not a Shag or any sort of diver, seen swimming on Hampstead Heath ponds. It's looking quite distinctive in its winter plumage and with a bright green eye catching the sunlight – almost exotic compared to the sleeker, blacker summer look. The vicious bill which seems to be almost an extension of the shape of the head marks it out as a Cormorant rather than Shag, amongst other things.

This one has a very white and fluffy neck which I haven't seen in most of the archetype photos, but I assume it's not unnatural. Perhaps it's a juvenile, or partway through changing from one look to another.

Exhibitions at London Zoo and Plymouth's Living Coast are showing off an enthralling series of ultra close up images of plankton taken by Dr Richard Kirby of the University of Plymouth.

Plankton are of course the tiny living organisms, some invisible to the human eye, that fill the seas and often form the bottom of the food chain. The Wikipedia article on plankton notes that 'plankton' is something of a catch-all term for tiny drifting sea organisms, which includes animals, plants and bacteria.

The BBC has an article and a narrated slideshow about the exhibition.

The BBC details new research on just how barnacles stick to ships hulls, rocks, whales etc. Apparently the glue they secrete works a little bit like clotting blood, but this wasn't understood before now.

Wikipedia has an excellent introduction to barnacles, which are surprisingly diverse and intriguing arthropods.