The secret lives of rare fish are being revealed in new photos released by Dorset Wildlife Trust. The winning images from the annual Dorset Seasearch Underwater Photography Competition include an extraordinary and intimate photograph of a rare and beautiful fish at its nest site, showing what is believed to be previously unrecorded breeding display.
A first in history
Seasearch is part of a national programme to record the wildlife hidden beneath the water, using a combination of written notes and photographs from volunteer sports divers, and is co-ordinated locally by Dorset Wildlife Trust. The competition was launched to find the photos that tell us the most about little-known species or habitats, with the winners selected from hundreds of images by divers in Dorset during 2011.
The winning photograph was taken by Matt Doggett from Southampton and shows the rare Baillon’s wrasse in Poole Bay appearing to guard its nest and exhibiting possible breeding colours, a first in the history of the competition. Dr Frances Dipper, one of the UK’s leading experts on marine fish, judging the entries, said: “This fish has been recorded occasionally from the English Channel and has been photographed in the Channel Islands and in west Ireland. I believe this to be Baillon’s wrasse and we are still trying to ascertain whether the pink colouration of the lips and fins is seasonal with breeding, as it is not mentioned in most texts.”
Extremely valuable information
The runners-up were Fiona Ravenscroft’s seaslug at Portland, Justin Evans’ undulate ray on Christchurch ledges and two reef habitat images: Gordon Bird’s Silt-covered reef, showing sea cucumbers, anemones, sponges, bryozoa and seaweeds at Lulworth Banks; and Mike Markey’s Eunicella reef in Lyme Bay, showing pink seafans and several sponges.
Peter Tinsley, Living Seas Manager at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Much of what we know about Dorset’s amazing marine life comes from the records and photographs Seasearch divers bring back. This information is extremely valuable when arguing for protection for fragile and vulnerable habitats and the photographs allow everyone to appreciate the variety of life on Dorset’s seabed.”
For more information about protecting Dorset’s marine life, visit the Seas Under Threat page. Divers who would like to help record Dorset’s underwater wildlife can ring Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620 or visit the Sea Search website.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Peter Tinsley at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
For our latest news RSS feed, see /c2/rss/dwt_latest_news.xml
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Winner Baillon’s Wrasse in Poole Bay, taken by Matt Doggett
Runner up Seaslug Doto fragilis at Portland, taken by Fiona Ravenscroft.
Runner up Undulate ray at Christchurch Ledges, taken by Justin Evans.
Runner up Silt covered reef at Lulworth Banks, taken by Gordon Bird.
Runner up Eunicella reef in Lyme Bay, taken by Mike Markey.