Sun Star. St. Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve.
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Wolf-fish Survey


Diversity & Visibility
The Kelp Forest
Down to 15 metres
The Tide Exposed Zone
Deeper Water

Shore Diving

Shore Diving at St. Abbs
Wreck of the Odense

Boat Diving

Boat Diving
Wreck of the Alfred Erlandsen
Wreck of the Glanmire

General Information

Air & Information
Map of St. Abbs Head Coastline
Map of St. Abbs Harbour Coastline
Pointer to current page.Wolf-fish Survey

For as long as divers have been plunging beneath the waves at St Abbs they have been fascinated by the wolf-fish. This formidable fish is relatively easily found here and has long been a "must-see" whilst diving in the clean clear waters of the reserve.

In 2004 we decided to use the wolf-fish as a pilot species to carry out a new type of survey. Most divers who come to the reserve will be on the lookout for a fish lurking in a cave or crevice and there is little mistaking whether or not you have seen one! So it is a perfect species to use for a pilot survey into the distribution of marine life around the reefs. Throughout August and September we handed out basic survey forms to divers around the harbour at St Abbs and also left forms with the local dive shops. Uptake of the survey was very encouraging with almost half of all forms given out returned. This may not sound much but it was a far better return than the diver exit forms which were reasonably successful, if a little vague.

Gradually the results trickled back. There were no great surprises from the results but some hotspots did become apparent. Black Carrs appeared to be the place to be with one dive yielding an astonishing 10 fish! Juvenile fish were seen, as was one large adult that appeared to be dying on the seabed. Unfortunately good old George, who used to lurk on Big Green Carr off the harbour wall and could easily be enjoyed by shore divers, has shuffled off this mortal coil. Since he died left in the winter of 2002 no other fish have moved into his territory, so sadly all the sightings we received were only from those who had been out on a boat. However, we may yet have a fish move in to a very accessible site and if we do George II will no doubt take the mantle of "most photographed fish in the UK"!

You might be wondering why we are doing this? Well as mentioned earlier the wolf-fish is a great place to start a species specific survey. You may also know that the North Sea has warmed up by 2°C in the last 20 years. Great news you might think, but not for the flora and fauna of the North Sea. The wolf-fish is a rare sight in shallow coastal waters in the UK. Its distribution extends all the way from the Arctic, south to the Bay of Biscay. Around the UK it is found at depths usually deeper than 100m, so is well out of site of divers. However, here in Berwickshire we still find the wolf-fish in depths as shallow as 10m, typical of their habits in far northern waters. All of which is great for divers but what will happen if the North Sea continues to warm? Presumably the wolf-fish will recede to deeper and deeper waters and face to face encounters will become a thing of the past. We would also like to know whether they can be found all year round. The literature suggests that they lurk in deep waters offshore in winter and only move into coastal areas in the summer.

In 2005 we would like to build on the success of last year’s pilot survey by asking divers to continue their sterling work in recording their sightings (and even lack of sightings!).

Also this year we would like to extend the survey to include other species as alongside the sub-arctic wolf-fish and at St Abbs we are lucky enough to be home to some warm water species too. For instance, the Devonshire cup-coral (yes, a true coral!) which, as its name suggests, is a species more typical of south-western waters. The Devonshire cup-coral graces our waters due to a finger of the North Atlantic Drift which extends over the top of Scotland from the west. If, as some have predicted, the North Sea continues to warm we should start to see some major changes underwater. Will the wolf-fish will recede into the depths as Devonshire cup corals and other warmer water species flourish? Well, you can help us find this out! So keep your eyes peeled for further surveys too.

Many thanks to all those who have enthusiastically filled in forms for us in the past, keep up the good work! Thanks must also go to Jon Mercer of the Scottish Borders Biological Records Centre for all his work collating and presenting our data.

Happy hunting (in the strictly visual sense of course!).

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Wolf Fish Survey From
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