A colony of lesser pipefish or Nilsson’s Pipefish, part of the Sea Horse family, has been found thriving off the coast of the North West’s most famous seaside town.
The colony, discovered around the legs of Blackpool’s famous Central Pier, is the first of its kind to be spotted in the area and could be home to as many as 500 fish; great news for the local environment.
Discovered during the recent Blackpool Beach Clean, a monthly event organised in partnership with Sea Life Blackpool and the Turning Tides project, pipefish are more commonly found in areas with a wide variety of kelp, sea grasses and seaweeds so to find them around the iron legs of a pier is very rare.
Sea Life Blackpool Curator, Scott Blacker, said: “Discovering any type of marine life thriving in our coastal waters is good news as it means that the water is of a good enough quality to support life. To find pipefish in such abundance is really amazing news as they are very susceptible to changes in water quality and habitat destruction but these fish have really taken to their new home and are doing remarkably well.
“We managed to rescue a group of seven baby lesser pipefish from a rapidly emptying rockpool where they had been caught as the tide went out. To ensure we gave them the best chance of survival we have put them on display, at Sea Life Blackpool, to give our visitors the chance to see them and they give us a great talking point to educate our visitors about water quality and native marine life.”
Lesser pipefish can grow up to 13cm and produce up to 100 eggs which the males hold in a pouch until they hatch out and he then effectively gives birth.
Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNA, from The Seahorse Trust, said: “Finding the Nilsson’s Pipefish at Blackpool was fantastic news and shows how clean the waters are in the area. To have such a large colony is good news and shows the seas are thriving and hopefully with the forthcoming Marine Protected Zones it will only get better around the British Isles.”
Aquarist Emma Whittle checks over the rescued lesser pipefish at Sea Life Blackpool