Diary

Always sad when lumpsuckers are washed up

Well the weather hasn't been too bad but bumbling along the beach earlier this week I spotted a dead fish, yup a lump-sucker, but why?

These 'queer shaped' fish move out of deep water to spawn in shallow water in the spring, how shallow? Well If you are looking for a lump-suckers nest I would recommend that you concentrate on the kelp so 3m or less would be my preferred hunting ground.

Some back-ground, when breeding whilst the females stay a drab grey colour the males go all shades of red and orange, looking like anything from oversize goldfish to OTT kids red footballs, the males are also significantly smaller and are the ones that 'stand guard' over the eggs making sure that predators are kept away, silt is kept from the eggs and fresh water is passing over the eggs as much as possible.

And where they spawn, combined with their ungainly appearance and swimming is the reason why so many get washed up on the beach, you have the conditions for a perfect storm of an ungainly animal in shallow water where there may be terrible weather that will wash out everything or 'just' the spawned out females, well today a bit further along the beach it was apparent that 'everything' had been washed out.

Yup, that is a full egg-cluster or at least 'most' of an egg cluster, which in this case was obviously spawned 'around' a piece of kelp, judging by the shape of the hole and also quite a bit of experience it has been around the root of the kelp but the kelp must have been anchored to some 'iffy' substrate and when there was the tiniest bit of swell it has lifted away, that's a shame.

Year ago lump-sucker eggs were harvested and sold as 'fake caviar', I assume that they are similar in size and taste of salty water so yes a perfect substitute, it can't have been easy and must have included divers working along the shore or perhaps fake nesting sites temporarily lowered to the sea-bed, however the operation was carried out I reckon that it would have been possible for even a diver who was unskilled in spotting lump-sucker nests to comfortably find half a dozen in a dive. Once you get your 'eye in' it will be like most hunter gatherer activities that you do underwater and soon much easier and you wonder how you used to 'miss' so many of your target species, usually scallops, I have frequently dived with guys who have found none whilst I was buddying them and lifted 50+, but once you show people what to look for they can 'see' them.

Anyhow, the demand for caviar and fake caviar seems to have dropped off in recent years which is good news for sturgeon and lump-suckers respectively, not that it will help this poor bugger.

Dive safe.......well you know what I mean!

RichW

 

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