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'Rare' crab found off coast of Barmouth

Credit: Blue Planet Aquarium

A 'rare' sponge crab has been found three miles off the coast of Barmouth.

The bizarre-looking crustacean was hauled up in the pots of lobster fisherman Richard Workman and has been donated to an aquarium.

The Blue Planet Aquarium says the crabs get their name because they hold living sponges, which they also cut to fit, on top of their shells as a way of camouflaging themselves from would-be predators.

Staff say they're more commonly seen off the West coast of Africa or in the Mediterranean.

But in recent years their numbers have been increasing in British waters and they may now be permanent residents around our coasts.

“We’re very grateful to the fisherman for donating it to us. They really are amazing creatures and this one is a particular fine specimen, measuring around 10cms long.

Sponge crabs have two pairs of modified legs tipped with needle-like pincers which they use to secure sponges which sit on their backs. They are quite adept at moving sponges over the whole of their body to enable them to hide.

However, this means that they only have two pairs of legs to walk on so they tend to also use their front claws to assist them with walking.

Their bodies, claws and legs are completely covered in a thick furry 'felt' except for the tips of their claws which are a vivid 'rose pink'!

– Stacy Adams, Blue Plant Aquarium

Welsh honey bees' 'good crop for 2014'

Credit: Henning Kaiser/DPA/PA Images

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) says better weather and better beekeeping have upped honey production

It says beekeepers across Wales have reported an average yield of 26lbs of honey per colony this year according to the annual Honey Survey.

That's an increase of almost a fifth on the 22lbs per colony reported by beekeepers in Wales in 2013, and is a far cry from the 10lbs per colony in 2012.

Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

Conducted by BBKA amongst 2,000 beekeepers across the UK, the annual Honey Survey explores the current year’s honey yield and the factors affecting honey bee colonies and honey production. It shows a rise in British production.

While this increase is great news for beekeepers and honey bees, the historic average is 40lbs plus per hive so there is still some way to go if we are to return to our most productive....

– Tim Lovett, BBKA Director of Public Affairs


Pylons in National Parks could soon be removed

Overhead pylons in some of Wales' most beautiful areas could soon be removed, replacing overhead lines with underground cables.

It's part of a £500 million project by the National Grid to reduce their visual impact in protected landscapes.

Those on the shortlist for funding include Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia.

Twelve sections of cable have been shortlisted as having significant visual impact. Credit: PA

A range of techniques will be used to hide the cables, including burying them underground or re-routing and screening them from key viewpoints.

The National Grid says the final shortlist of sites will be made early next year after further investigation into economic, environmental and heritage issues.

Green leader urges First Minister to halt fracking plans

The leader of the Wales Green Party has urged the First Minister to halt the process known as 'fracking' which is the controversial method of extracting gas or oil from rock. There have been several protests already about fracking plans in various parts of Wales.

Wales Green leader Pippa Bartolotti has written to Carwyn Jones asking him to 'lead the way' in stopping those plans from going any further.

Here in Wales we can either increase the extraction of fossil fuels, or remove them from the equation completely. We should take the historic opportunity to do the latter.

Fracking sites are planned all over Wales, and the Welsh Government has full jurisdiction over the planning process, we therefore ask that you use your authority to stop the process of fracking in its tracks.

The arguments over safety, contamination and pollution should be enough to stop this insidious process industrialising our countryside, but the IPCC report lays it on the line: burning more fossil fuels will cause irrevocable damage and increase the pace of climate change.

Leaving these fossil fuels in the ground will not harm the Welsh economy either. Our renewables resource is one of the greatest in the world. Renewables will provide the strong economic base for Wales which oil did for Scotland. The difference is that renewable energy will never run out.

– Pippa Bartolotti, leader Wales Green Party


Company launched to develop tidal energy along North Wales coast

North Wales is already home to several offshore windfarms Credit: PA

A new company is being launched to develop tidal energy along the coast of North Wales.

North Wales Tidal Energy & Coastal Protection will explore the possibilities of building tidal lagoons which will create sustainable energy.

Based in St Asaph, NWTE aim to work with local communities and business people to create a world-leading tidal energy programme.

Once completed, the company says North Wales will benefit from cheaper electricity and coastal communities will be safer from flood risks.

This is a major infrastructure project that we are addressing, with benefits here in North Wales and beyond. We are determined to protect the beautiful environment in which we live while providing power, amenity and employment for the long-term.

– Eryl Vaughan, NWTE

Flood defence plans are tested at St Asaph

Natural Resources Wales say they will be speaking to people in St Asaph about their future flood defences plans for the area next month.

It comes as a flood prevention exercise is carried out to check how effective the response to possible flooding is.

Flood defence plans are being tested Credit: ITV Wales

John Roberts, who was Mayor at the time told ITV Wales that people are still very nervous about the potential flood threat and want a permanent solution.

"If there is heavy rain people get worried," he said.

Flood defence plans are being tested Credit: ITV Wales

Agencies making 'headway' in improving defences

Three flood warning areas cover a total of 599 properties across St Asaph, 548 of which are now registered to receive free flood warnings.

Natural Resources Wales will hold a public drop in session for residents in December to provide information about its long-term plans to reduce flood risk.

The flooding in 2012 was devastating for people in St Asaph, destroying homes and businesses, damaging infrastructure and unfortunately ending with tragic consequences for one family.

We've been working hard to support the community in the aftermath of the flooding and to make sure the city is better prepared to cope with flooding in the future.

We've already made huge headway in improving flood protection, but this exercise will be a vital test of the plans we've made and how all the agencies involved come together to work quickly and efficiently to protect people in such an emergency.

– Tim Jones, Natural Resources Wales

St Asaph flood response to be tested in emergency exercise

Credit: Dave Thompson/PA

A two-day emergency exercise is starting in St Asaph today to test the city's response to flooding.

Hundreds of residents were forced to flee their homes when St Asaph was hit by floods in November 2012.

Margaret Hughes, 91, drowned after her bungalow flooded. A coroner recorded a narrative verdict into her death, after an inquest heard she had been warned of impending floods, but had chosen not to leave her home.

Since then extensive work has been carried out to reinforce the city's defences including groundworks to allow temporary barriers to be installed at times of potential flooding, raising existing walls and embankments and the roll out of a 'community flood plan' with 33 volunteer flood wardens.

Over the next two days, officers from Natural Resources Wales, the emergency services and the local authority will 'act out' a flood scenario similar to the 2012 floods to test flood alerts, erecting temporary flood defences and testing emergency evacuation procedures and flood warden network.

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