Subtropical fish caught in Bristol Channel

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An Atlantic tripletail caught in the Bristol Channel this week may be the first recorded occurrence of the species in Britain.

The Atlantic tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis, a member of the perciform family Lobotiidae, is found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world, but is exceptionally rare north of the Mediterranean Sea.

Experts believe that the catch is another indication that subtropical fishes are migrating into the temperate waters of the UK as temperatures rise due to global warming.

The non-native fish was caught by fisherman Michael Roberts, who was using a stake net to fish for salmon and trout off the estuary shore at Peterstone, between Newport and Cardiff on the south Wales coast. The 60cm/24" long fish was taken to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, where expert Julian Carter said: "It is the first record of such a fish in UK waters. It is a very warm water fish."

The Atlantic tripletail, Lobotes surinamensis, is one of just two species in the Lobotiidae family. The species reaches an adult size of around 1m/39" and can weigh up to 19kg/42 lbs and is popular with game anglers. Adult tripletails are most commonly found in estuaries, bays and in the mouths of large rivers where it feeds on small fishes and crustaceans. The juvenile tripletail resembles a leaffish and is camouflaged to mimic fallen leaves.

The fish has been incorrectly referred to as a triple fin in other media reports. Triplefins are actually small blennies from the family Tripterygiidae and do not reach the large size of the Tripletail.