|Saturday 10th March 2001.
It is the time of the first really big spring tides and this one is
a must for rockpoolers. The weather was rather
inclement and with a low tide at about 12.30 pm I spent the morning watching
the skies in anticipation. By 11 am I decided to go for
it, and suitably dressed I ventured forth.
With the skies still overcast I began working my push net underneath
and along the old sewer pipe that runs across and under Mumbles pier, an
area that has produced many wonders in the past. I netted a
few small prawns and the odd Scorpion Fish, Taurulus bubalis, but
not much else until I spotted a rather strange pale beige blob of something
in the bottom of the net. Was it a sponge? no, maybe an egg-case of something,
no it was too firm for that. I carefully put the "blob" into, one
of several small plastic jars that I always carry to isolate small creatures
such as this. Only much later did I realise that I had inadvertently
netted a sea slug, Jorunna tomentosa the first one found
by me anywhere. It was 25 mm, pale beige in colour, with velvety
skin and with the ability to withdraw its rhinophores completely also the
gills. Undoubtedly it had done this when captured, hence my failure
to recognise what it was at the time.
A gentleman in his 50's past the time of day with me and asked how I
was doing! I chatted with him for a few moments and then continued working
that sewer pipe. About fifteen minutes later I caught a young 5 cm Pogge,
Agonus cataphractus, in the bottom of my net. These fish can
be easily mistaken for Scorpion fish at a quick glance and I nearly missed
this one because of this fact and more importantly, the fact that I have
never known this species from the Swansea or Gower area before. I
have caught them some years ago, but in Pembrokeshire and off the beach
in a dragnet. They are very easily recognised on close inspection, if only
for the "puggy uplifted nose" and whiskers around the mouth, and a kind
of prehistoric appearance to the head area.
I found many egg ribbons of sea slugs and eventually discovered two
specimens of Goniodoris nodosa, also noted on my last trip to the
Mumbles, although not seen previously in the area. I also noted many specimens
of Onchidoris bilamellata.
About this time I heard a call from the gentleman in his 50's.
He waded over to me carrying a large polythene bag shouting that he had
something "odd" and did I know what it was. I opened his bag to find a
Lumpsucker, Cyclopterus lumpus of some 18 cm in length
and to my amazement, a deep red in colour! To my obvious stream of questions,
he told me that he had found it sitting in a shallow pool, no more than
3 cm deep, mostly out of the water and totally unable to reach the sea
again for at least another 2 hours. We put the fish in water in my bucket
and I left the fish in peace for the next 15 minutes. He was in his
breeding colours and had been exposed for quite some time I would think,
before being brought to me in that plastic bag.
The fish survived and after I removed 6 parasites clinging to the body,
placed him into my 2 metre long aquarium and filmed him with my camcorder
whilst he retained the breeding coloration. It was a shade resembling glowing
embers on a fire and covered the entire body, including every fin as well.
One week later he is still alive, albeit very quiet and adhered to the
side glass, all of the time, but now moving around within his little space
and he has taken a few live mysid shrimp. I will not be really happy until
I see him swimming freely and confidently around the tank. The red breeding
colours are already fading and only his belly and anal fin are now red.
This Lumpsucker had a very unfortunate experience but thanks to two
men being sociable, he will now undoubtedly survive instead of becoming
food for the seagulls as I fear would have been his fate. What an amazing
Mumbles Page 1
Rockpooling at Gelliswick Bay, Milford Haven