Jurassic Carp

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 27 September 2014 15:03

I find it hard to believe that I have managed to miss out on a 95 mile stretch of mind-blowing coastline on the south coast for 36 years until now but I have. Tony, Seth and I took the day off and headed to Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset. The first thing I said as I got out of the car is 'What's that?' pointing at Portland showing my ignorance of this landscape. I have literally missed out on this entire stretch of coast all my life. And what the heck is going on with 'double low tides'?! The tide went out and stayed out for at least three hours. Who knew? I didn't manage to magic up ten new species of fish for my list but we did get ten species of fish in total including two lifers for me.

Above is the Cornish Sucker or Shore Clingfish. I was VERY pleased to see this freaky little fellow. We only saw one and I found it by turning a rock over. I watched it roll off the underside of the rock thinking, "that must have been a clingfish" but it plopped into the water and disappeared. I thought it couldn't have swam far, so I swept the Serrated  Wrack with my net in the surrounding area and there it was! It didn't have any markings though, no big blue spots on the top of the head. The fin arrangement and head tentacles are diagnostic though. Here is the full list, species in bold were new for me.

Cornish Sucker                  1
Rock Goby                          3
Five-bearded Rockling        1
Small-headed Clingfish       4
Long-spined Sea Scorpion  1
Sea Bass                              2
Sand Smelt                          1 
Mullet sp.                            Many
Corkwing Wrasse               Many
Shanny                                Many

Rock Goby was a cracking fish being by far the biggest goby (and my fifth goby) that I have ever seen. The pale top to the first dorsal is distinctive. They go pale in the tray before you get the camera out being naturally much darker animals. Had to work quite hard to get this list though and pulled a muscle in my forearm in the process! Quite a work out.

This was a 'two clingfish day' though and this gorgeous little Small-headed Clingfish couldn't have looked more different in colour and pattern than the ones I saw off Brighton two years ago. These ones were perfectly camouflaged against the yellow-orange of the Serrated Wrack.

Now some stuff that isn't fish. I was pleased to see my first Gem Anemone. Cracking little things!

The rather stunning (but not QUITE rainbow) Rainbow Wrack. I think you need to be there for this one.

The Sea Hares (my first since Rhosneigr in 2002) seemed to like the Rainbow Wrack.

Thanks to Seth I got my first two barnacles! They were the awesome Volcano Barnacle Balanus perforatus and these striking Chthamalus stellatus.

I've definitely got the Jurassic Coast bug, I can't wait to go back and have another go! A big thanks to Jessica in the Marine Centre and the Dorset Wildlife Trust for their advice on where to go and what to see. I never did get that Tompot Blenny though, so I will have to go back!

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