A “funny-looking” fish which is rare on the south coast of England has been found in Cornwall. The lumpsucker was discovered in Penwith by Constance Morris, a volunteer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Strandings Network.
She said: “I work with Atlantic Adventures, we take people on wildlife watching boat tours and wild snorkeling out of Penzance. Andy Cowie, the owner and skipper, and myself also both volunteer for a few different marine wildlife charities, as we feel it’s very important to look after our oceans and the life it holds.
“We both volunteer for the BDMLR (British Divers Marine Live Rescue), who do live marine mammal stranding, though Andy tends too do more for them, I find myself doing more for the Marine Strandings Network, who deal with the dead strandings. We both also volunteer for Mounts Bay marine group, who usually give talks, organise beach clean and other events.
“This is where the lumpsucker comes in. While walking a beach local to me, I found it along the strand line. I’d never seen one before, and they’ve not been recorded officially down in Penwith.
What are lumpsuckers?
Lumpsuckers are lumpy fish with a sucker that allows them to hold onto rocks. They are reported to be bad swimmers and are usually found in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific oceans.
They are rare on the south coast of England.
The Wildlife Trusts reports: “This funny-looking fish certainly won’t be winning any beauty pageants, but it’s a real contender for Father of the Year!
“The sucker is made from the fused pelvic fins and is pretty effective against the breaking waves. For most of the year they live out below the low tide mark in fairly deep water, but return to rocky shores in spring to breed. The female has a limited role in this exciting story, simply laying her eggs before returning to deeper seas. It’s the dad that has the starring role as he stays with the eggs for over a month until they hatch.
“During this time, he guards the eggs against predators and fans them with his tail to keep them well oxygenated. It’s during this time that the true value of their sucker is revealed – as the eggs are often laid in the rough surf zone and it’s only thanks to the sucker that the devoted dad isn’t washed away. They are the biggest fish to be found in rockpools – so you’ll easily spot them if they’re there.”