|Adult male Corkwing wrasse photo Matt Slater|
Paul's passion is in studying the behavior of our marine creatures and his eagle eye was invaluable as he pointed out 2 corkwing wrasse nests. These nests are constructed in a deep rocky crevice on the low shore by the male wrasse and Paul tells me they carefully select the seaweeds they use to make the nest and build it up in layers - The heart of the nest being made of soft red seaweeds, an outer protective and breathable layer of scourweed (Ahnfeltia plicata) and a top protective and camouflaging layer of Coral weed (Corallina officinalis) the construction must take weeks and the nests end up an impressive size a couple of feet wide and over 12 inches deep! An elaborate courtship display by the male entices one or more females to lay their eggs in the nest and the male then fertilizes them and covers the eggs with carefully selected seaweeds and guards them until they hatch. Once hatched the tiny corkwing wrasse fry then have to fend for themselves in the harsh marine environment. Sometimes a tiny baby will be found when rockpooling but only a few will survive, to become adults.
When we returned to Hannafore point for our September Shoresearch survey the corkwing nests had all been washed away and it was surprising how deep the rocky crevice was that the nests had been constructed in - building a dense nest of this size is an incredible achievement for a single male corkwing wrasse!
|juvenile wrasse photo Matt Slater|