Friday, 15 January 2010
Another marine casualty to look out for.
With the recent discovery of thousands of dead Velvet Swimmer crabs along the Thanet Coastline in this recent cold spell , I must admit it has really got me thinking about what has happened in the past and what can we expect in the future. One such casualty I am expecting to find dead on the shoreline this spring is the Lumpsucker.
The Lumpsucker by all accounts is a strange looking fish which looks almost pre historic in comparison to the white fish we are accustomed to. Lumpsuckers appear in our shallow waters during the spring to lay their eggs, the males (top in picture) are around 30cms long and have a lovely reddish colour in the fins and body. The female is larger about 45cm and in our waters is normally darker, a sort of dark blue/grey with a few splashes of yellow in the fins, but colours in the female do vary. They spawn in the deep water gulley's that are filled with kelp just off the low water back. Ideal places are the kelped areas between Botany Bay and Kingsate (crab island) that never drain and also the very low water gulley's off the Nayland Rock. The reason I know this is because I have seen the eggs attached to rocks. When the eggs are laid they are guarded by both male and female, with the male being the most dedicated sentry. Both male and female have a sucker on the underside between the pectoral fins which they attach to rocks. All being well and the spring is mild and enters into summer without any adverse weather conditions everything survives. However, should the weather be mild in late winter /early spring then a cold snap or rough weather, many Lumpsuckers will die because they stay will close to their eggs or just caught out.
Over the course of many years I have found many dead Lumpsuckers and the only good thing I can report is that it can be many years between each sighting. But the pattern does mirror the plight of the crabs and I am expecting to find some dead this year and like all trips from now on I will be taking a camera.