Marine visitors head to Devon and Cornwall

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 13 October 2011

Marine visitors head to Devon and Cornwall A bright blue prawn and a blenny with a black face are recorded further west than ever before MCS divers have recorded two species of prawn and blenny in Devon and Cornwall for the first time.

Marine visitors head to Devon and Cornwall A bright blue prawn and a blenny with a black face are recorded further west than ever before MCS divers have recorded two species of prawn and blenny in Devon and Cornwall for the first time. Volunteer divers from Seasearch made the discovery over the summer as they recorded the state of the UK’s inshore waters, and the rare and unusual marine life that lives there. Two relatively recent additions to the British marine fauna are the black face blenny and the anemone prawn. These two southerly species more commonly occur in shallow seas on the continent, but have been recorded in Dorset for a number of years. This year however, both have been found much further west, in Devon and Cornwall. Chris Wood, who co-ordinates the Seasearch project in the UK and Ireland for MCS says that we don’t really know how these species crossed the channel: “Now they’re here though, they seem to be spreading in suitable habitats along the coast. They also clearly find the water warm enough to survive, which may not have been the case in the past.” The black faced blenny is a striking little fish, with the male of the species having a jet black head and bright yellow body, at least when he is trying to attract the opposite sex. It was first found on the north side of the English Channel in 1977 in Portland Harbour, Dorset. Black faced blenny (Chris Wood) The anemone prawn is a much more recent arrival from the south, being first recorded in 2007, at Swanage Pier in Dorset. It is a tiny prawn with distinctive bright blue and pink colours and lives exclusively amongst the tentacles of the snakelocks anemone, which it helps to keep clean in exchange for protection from would-be predators. Anemone prawn (Dan Bolt) Divers have been recording the gradual spread of both species along the south coast. This year Seasearch divers have identified black faced blennies (Tripterygion delaisi) on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, the first, photographically confirmed, records west of the Plymouth area and of anemone prawns (Periclimenes sagittifer) at Babbacombe in Devon - the first records west of Portland Bill. Chris Wood, who has been tracking the records made by the divers, said “These two attractive little creatures are of no commercial value but have now become a part of the English marine fauna. All the records of them come from volunteer divers and show what a great contribution trained volunteers can make, particularly in recording underwater where information remains very scarce.

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