Corkwing wrasse, Crenilabrus melops
Corkwing wrasse are very colourful inhabitants of UK coastal waters and can often be seen by divers and snorkelers. At this time of year the male fish begin building nests in crevices low down on the shore. Carefully choosing bits of seaweed, they construct a ball shaped nest that can reach sizes of up to half a metre wide and 30cm deep; this takes the male wrasse weeks to complete. They do all this; as well as a very elaborate courtship display; in the hope of attracting a female. If he is successful she will lay her eggs in the nest for him to fertilise. He then covers them with camouflaging seaweed such as coral weed (Corallina officinalis) and guards them until they hatch. Look out for the untidy looking nests between rocks in the shallows at low tide. This video taken in Kimmeridge Bay by Emma Rance shows one male Corkwing Wrasse’s labour of love:
Long-spined sea scorpion, Taurulus bubalis
These fish can grow up to 20cm long and live on rocky seashores as well as deeper water right down to 30m. They have long spines on their cheeks, hence their name, but are not poisonous. They have a broad head with large eyes that they use to help them catch food that can be as big as themselves! As ambush predators they stay motionless on the seabed for hours waiting for prey to swim close by and can change their colour to match their surroundings. Prawns are their main source of food but their diet does include small fish and other crustaceans like crabs.
Their eggs are laid at this time of year and look like orange caviar attached in large clusters to the underside of rocks. Check out the photos in our egg gallery. Please take extra special care when exploring rockpools at this time of year - disturbing fish could have serious consequences as many are guarding their eggs.
Common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis
Cuttlefish are cephalopods, closely related to squid and octopus. Their large body can grow up to 45cm long and inside each cuttlefish is a cuttlebone. The animal uses this to control its buoyancy and these hard bones can often be found washed up on beaches. Cuttlefish have 8 arms and two extendable tentacles. The tentacles quickly shoot out to capture prey and the arms are used to hold and move the prey around once it is caught.
Mating occurs at this time of year and the female then deposits the large eggs in clumps attaching them to anchored objects such as seaweed or rope on the seabed. The bunches of eggs are identifiable by their teardrop shape and are called sea grapes. Check out the photo in our egg gallery to see why they got this name! Once laid, they are coloured with ink, helping them to blend into the background and obscure the developing embryo inside. Each baby has a nutritious yolk that they feed on until they can secure food for themselves, after around 2 months they hatch and immediately start feeding on small shrimps.
Look out for bunches of sea grapes washed onto the seashore after stormy weather.
Let us know what you find
Let us know what marine life you see by posting it on our Facebook page or letting us know on Twitter! We'd love to see any photos you take.
Corkwing wrasse © Chris Roberts
Long spined sea scorpion © Peter Tinsley
Long spined sea scorpion © Julie Hatcher
Common Cuttlefish © Julie Hatcher