I found Nemo!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 20 October 2013 08:52


This was the first fish I caught yesterday whilst rock pooling at St Mary's Lighthouse and I soon realised I was looking at a young Lumpsucker Cyclopterus lumpus!!! It was only the size of a pea but there is no other possibility with the shape and the suction cup underneath. I have wanted to see this fish ever since I bought a guide to the sea shore when I was on holiday in Wales as a kid. If you look at the UK distribution on the NBN Gateway, it is well known from this stretch of the English coast line. In cellebration of my little Lumpsucker, have a listen to this.

I wasn't completely sure so I wanted to rule out Montagu's Sea Snail so I googled a few images of this species before carrying on dipping. Guess what the next fish I pulled out was?!

I watched the Montagu's Sea Snail change colour from an almost yellow to a dark brown in a matter of seconds.


I caught one wrasse which in the field I thought was Rock Cook but in hindsight I think this one is likely to be a young Ballan Wrasse, Rock Cook is very much a west coast thing and it doesn't have the right amount of spines on the anal fin. Quite obviously not the Corkwing that we see down south but as with the other two fish, I only caught one of this species. There are records of Ballen from St Mary's too so I'm happy with that.

There are also records there for this attractive goby, the Two-spot Goby which is highly distinctive to do with the spot at the base of the tail.

And this little fellow which I believe to be either a young gurnard or a dragonet as some people have pointed out. Either way these are difficult groups of species as adults so I won't be getting it to species. It was very small, barely a cm long but as soon as I put it in the tray it went from looking like a typical fry to this amazing little fish. I wish I could confidently say what it was. Most of the fish I saw were very small, making some identification a challenge. The largest (and most abundant) fish I saw was a Shanny. The only other fish I saw more than one of was the Butterfish.


Here is the full list of fish.

Long-spined Sea Scorpion
Butterfish
Shanny
Two-spot Goby
Ballen Wrasse
Montague's Sea Snail
Lumpsucker
Gurnard/Dragonet? sp.

Words cannot describe how awesome this was. Every time I put the net I was pulling out something new! Despite driving rain off the north sea, I was loving every minute. Interestingly I must have started on the best bits because at one stage all I was pulling out were Shannys, I think I must have gained altitude slightly without realising. I'll definitely be having a look there every visit up to Whitley Bay, with an ecosystem that resets itself EVERY twelve hours, you can't afford to miss an opportunity!

I also added Common Brittlestar Ophiothrix fragilis. Four new fish and a new starfish!

3 Response to "I found Nemo!"

Stewart Says:

Get to the furthest low tide Graeme and see male Lumpsuckers in bright pink the size of a grapefruit guarding the eggs....fantastic. They seem to come up to the surface to gulp air?

Graeme Lyons Says:

Hi Stewart, was your comment specific to St Mary's? I'd love to see that and believe me I tried getting as close to the sea but I started to find my catch rates in the rock pools falling off at this stage. Usually the best stuff is as close to the sea as you can get which surprised me but I am sure I figured it out. I think there is likely to be better stuff there but it's harder to get to as the rock pools are less cuboidal with more nucks and crannies that it's hard to get the net in to. Anyways, is this your neck of the woods? We should meet up for some birding/rock-pooling if you fancy it next time I'm up. Will be up for around 10 days at Christmas.

elizabeth howie Says:

We saw these starfish in the Red Sea when we were on holiday in Sharm El Sheik


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