Rare fish and prawn species found in Devon and Cornwall

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Divers surveying marine life along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall have recorded two rather beautiful species resident there for the first time.

Marine Conservation Society (MCS) divers diving as part of the Seasearch programme photographed the beautiful Black-Faced blenny (Tripterygion atlanticus) off the coast of the Lizard in Cornwall while a specimen of the delicate Anemone prawn (Periclimenes sagittifer) was spotted off Babbacombe in Devon this summer.

The Black-Faced blenny was first recorded on the English side of the Channel in 1977 when a specimen was found in Portland Harbour in Dorset, but this Cornish sighting is the furthest west the species has been found.

The first Anemone prawn was also found in Dorset, this time at Swanage Pier during 2007 but as with the blenny this new recording of the species shows both blenny and prawn appear to be spreading out along the western coast of the UK. Previously it had been thought that winter sea temperatures would prevent both species from establishing themselves, but this is clearly no longer the case.

The blenny is a striking fish, with breeding males sporting a bright yellow body topped with a jet black head.

The prawn is an equally beautiful creature with its largely transparent body patched with blue and pink which help it blend in, in its home amongst the tentacles of the Snakelocks anemone (Anemonia viridis) which it helps keep clean in exchange for the protection the anemone's powerful sting offers against predators.

Chris Wood, co-ordinator of the Seasearch project for the MCS in the UK and Ireland said: "These two attractive little creatures are of no commercial value but have now become a part of the English marine fauna. All the records of them come from volunteer divers and show what a great contribution trained volunteers can make, particularly in recording underwater where information remains very scarce."

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