Gone fishing

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 19 September 2013 16:20

It's a been a while. I've recently lost enthusiasm for social networks, so my online presence has been low this summer. Ironically, I have probably had the busiest year of natural history of my life and have seen loads of exciting things, I just haven't the time or the inclination to write about it. So, apologies for that and for being a bit hard to get hold of this year.

Anyways, it's only a month late but here are the photos from one of the most exciting few hours natural history I have had all year when I helped out with a small fish survey off the coast of Rye Harbour on the 20th August. I only managed 14 new species of fish! Fourteen vertebrates in a single day, which actually even beats the last time I went out with these guys where I added six new species of fish and hooked up with the Reticulated Dragonet. So what beats a Reticulated Dragonet I hear you say?!

Well, a Thornback Ray I reckon! It might have been just a wee one but it's the closest thing to a shark I have on my list (the scale is in centimetres, not metres). We saw at least three.

Also new to me were a couple of mullets. I've seen plenty of mullets (I'm from the Midlands), but I've never been able to put a name to one until now. This one is the Thin-lipped Mullet.

And the slightly more impressive Golden Mullet with a big yellow blob on its cheek.

A bewildering array of young flatfish made up the bulk of my ticks but I must admit that I quite liked learning to identify this difficult group and before I knew it I was getting quite proficient at helping identify them. First up we have the slimy Plaice with orange spots. I also saw Flounder (not a tick), Witch and Dab which were new to me but I didn't manage a photo of those in all the excitement.

As with snails, you get 'left-handed' and 'right-handed' fish, and as with snails, more species tend to go one way than the other. Two species which buck the trend are Brill and Turbot. We saw both but here is a photo of a young Turbot.

But that's only eight new fish. Perhaps the commonest flatfish there was Sole, these are bloomin' ugly indeed. In fact, I was struck by how much their faces look like sock-puppets.

Number ten was the venomous Lesser Weever. Quite a colourful little fish but one that has to be handled with tweezers and makes reaching in to a bucket full of fish even more exciting than it already is!

Number 11 was the Lesser Pipefish. We only saw one of these.

So that leaves Bib, Whiting and Sand Goby which I didn't manage to photo. I was pretty pleased with that haul! My list is ticking along (4479) and I've been making a real effort to get records into Recorder6 this year and with upwards of 6500 records so far, I'm enjoying the process. I may even write a post about it one day.

Oh I totally forgot, this little critter that went unidentified. A young gurnard we thought but there are lots of different species. It was sent off to the museum for identification.

4 Response to "Gone fishing"

Rob Says:

Nice! I have unfortunately encountered the Lesser Weever twice before and yet I've never actually seen it. I reckon it must be the most painful form of dipping in pan-species listing!

Graeme Lyons Says:

I believe that you should tick it. If a part of an animal, no matter how small, has actually been inside me their is no way on this Earth I wouldn't tick it (assuming I could identify it)! We rely too heavily on our primary sense organs. I would argue that you have experienced the true weever fish! Add it to your list.

Bernita Sloan Says:

I wonder what that small critter actually is? Not much flat fish in the neighborhood, is there? It still made for a wonderful day for fishing, Good luck with catching more!

Graeme Lyons Says:

Actually the flat fish make up the bulk of the diversity and the numbers! I think it was confirmed as a young gurnard but we didn't find out what species. It was a great day though.

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