MEET THE MARINE LIFE

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Image credit: YVONNE OATES

MALE CORKWING WRASSE

Scientific name: Symphodus melops

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One of the most striking and beautiful species of fish found in the UK. 

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Image credit: YVONNE OATES

Commonly found in the chilly waters that surround the British Isles, Europe and the Mediterranean, the corkwing wrasse is one of the most striking and iconic rocky reef species found in the UK. Compared to the slightly duller females, the male corkwing wrasse is absolutely resplendent come breeding season in the spring and early summer.

 

The vibrant hues of orange and pink mixed with stripes of electric blue are unmissable against the rocky backdrop of their marine habitat. Superb turquoise stripes on the cheeks, a dark blotch in the shape of a comma behind each eye, and a dark spot in the middle of the tail stem distinguish this species from other wrasse.

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DID YOU KNOW...?

The male corkwing wrasse can trick other males by dulling down its colours to resemble a female?

Beautifully decorated and with a talent for complex nest-building behaviour, devoted males spend weeks building intricate nests in rocky crevices when spring comes around, using their mouths to collect up to 10 different species of seaweed!

 

When it comes to breeding season, impressing the ladies is everything, and the vibrancy of the male’s stunning appearance really comes to life. This peacock-like display combined with a well-built nest is the perfect recipe to attract a female, and vying for their attention comes with a certain level of competition.

However, the male corkwing wrasse has a cunning trick reserved for such an occasion. A so called ‘sneaker’ male will dull themselves down in order to trick a successful ‘nest-guarding’ male into thinking they are female, offering a false sense of security as they enter the nest and fertilise as many eggs as they can, overthrowing the unsuspecting king of the nest.

Growing up to 25cm in length, although usually much smaller, the corkwing wrasse is a particularly vibrant member of the local marine life that populates the waters around the UK, why not get out there and see if you can spot one!

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andy@diveprojectcornwall.co.uk |      07711 160 590 |       LINKEDIN

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