Wildlife sightings 14 February 2014

Notes from the Discovery Centre – Fran Thomas

Gannets can be clearly seen through the telescopes (but not on camera yet), flying around the northern cliffs of the Bass. Our Fidra cameras are back in action, now on two screens, with a regular peregrine and lots of fulmars.

The most exciting activity this week has been in the rock-pool tank: there are now two prawns carrying eggs and they have been isolated from potential predators. We are getting a new maternity-net that will allow the eggs to drop through into a separate compartment, as apparently even the mother might try to eat them.

Also in the tank, we think the blennies are breeding! The female has had a bulging abdomen for a while and turned quite orange this week. The male went dark with distinct white lips. He has been hanging at the top of the tank, resting on some periwinkles with his head out of the water. Yesterday the female appeared to be digging a nest in the sand under a rock (luckily right at the front of the tank). She then left it and the male moved in and wriggled around – presumably fertilising the eggs. Apparently the eggs look like jewels attached to a rock, but we can’t actually see them! The male should now guard them with his life, and oxygenate them by fanning his tail. There is possibly another nest at the back of the tank.

The hermit crabs also seem to be getting amorous: a large one has been dragging a smaller one around by the shell for two days now, climbing up and down the lobster creel with it. It is fascinating that in this controlled system, with no environmental cues such as changing day-length or temperature, the internal body-clock of the animals is definitely telling them it is spring!

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