Friday, 17 August 2012

We are suckers for the marine life you know

Now that many of the sea birds have left the island attention has shifted to the marine world. The beaches and bays are becoming busier with seals and males start to suss out their territories.
Atlantic grey seal yearling. Photo by Amandine Delory

Cetacean watches have been successful with daily sightings of harbour porpoise feeding on mackerel beneath circling gannets, as well as common dolphin and even one Risso’s dolphin. Sunfish Mola mola have also been sighted from the Dale Princess and from the cliff tops. Lewis, the hostel warden was lucky enough to see one breach. These awesome fish start their lives measuring only 0.25cm in length and are fully grown adults at an impressive 3 metres.

Jellyfish are a regular sighting from boats or from the cliffs on Skomer. Moon jellies or common jelly fish Aurelia aurita are saucer shaped and colourless other than the four central violet gonads. Compass jellyfish Chrysaora hysoscella so named because of the 16 v shaped markings that radiate from a central spot. These jellyfish only live for up to a year and this large mature one was washed up on North Haven beach.

Compass Jellyfish photo by Ali Quinney

Other goodies include goose barnacles Lepas anatifera like these ones washed up on driftwood after recent stormy weather. Once believed that these were the embryonic stages of a barnacle gooses life, goose barnacles attached themselves to an object as larvae and stay permanently attached by the peduncle for the rest of their lives.
Goose Barnacles photo by Ali Quinney

The varied habitats of Skomer’s intertidal zones also boast an array of life. Boulder beaches such as North Haven are home to topshell’s; periwinkles; acorn and volcano barnacles; beadlet, snakelocks and daisy anemones’ and an island favourite; Cornish sucker fish Lepadogaster lepadogaster, a member of the clingfish family. These fish stick to any object using an adhesive disc on their thorax, also known as a sucker.

Sucker fish photo by Ali Quinney

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