(The Killer) Snake Pipe Fish
- 17 Nov 06, 04:21 PM
Sand Eels are on the way out and Snake Pipe Fish are on the way in - And the seabirds of the East Atlantic don't know what to do.
(Picture © Harry Scott)
Sarah Wanless, Seabird Ecologist from CEH in Scotland has just told me about the demise of British Seabirds for PEuT. She stars in the third programme so listen out. She and colleagues have been studying the seabirds on the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth (North Sea) for umpteen bird generations. We hear that Sand Eels, the bottom dwelling (during part of their life) shoaling fish - and hugely important prey for many seabird species - are on the way out. Either heading north seeking colder water, out fished by fisheries or simply not surviving warmer sea water temperatures - or most likely a complex relationship of all three. The once very rare Snake Pipe Fish (a relative of the sea horse) seems now to be incredibly common in the north sea - And the sea birds are eating them. Trouble is, they are long and thin (look at the Puffin holding one) - don't have much fat on them and are covered in a hard exo-skeleton that neither the adults nor the chicks can swallow. Look at the Kittiwake - climate change is hitting these birds in all sorts of ways, but replacing one marine fish with another which is inedible is so bizarre. Sarah said that seabirds of all species, even the gulls, look at the pipe fish with curiousity - they don't know what to do with them.
(Picture © Mark Newell)