Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spot the Shrimp.... and Mind where you Tread!


At this time of year the pools of water left on sandy beaches at low tide are full of shrimps, although you need to look very carefully to spot them. This one, given away only by its white legs, was hidden in a pool on the beach at Warkworth in Northumberland last weekend. Double click on the picture for a larger image and you can just make out its tail, on the left, and the pair of stalked eyes (with a white mark between them) that protrude above the sand when it buries itself. The speckled pattern on the exoskeleton of the animal provides almost perfect camouflage
In this enlarged image, above,  you can see the eyes and legs a little more clearly....
Anyone going shrimping on a sandy shore would be wise to wear shoes when they wade in the shallows at this time of year because venomous weever fish feed on shrimps and when the water warms up they come inshore to catch them. This one was partially buried in the sand on Warkworth beach.
The three spines on the dorsal fin, seen erected in this disgruntled lesser weever Echiichthys vipera , are tipped with venom that causes excruciating pain for anyone who treads on one with bare feet. A trip to the beach then ends with a trip to the local A&E hospital. I rescued this fish from a gaggle of gulls that were attacking it in the shallows but were still very wary of it.
Despite their evil reputation for inflicting pain, weever fish have the most beautiful emerald eyes, set in a gold circlet. Usually the fish would be more deeply buried in the shallows, with just eyes and spines above the sand.
You can read more about weever fish at http://www.marlin.ac.uk/speciesinformation.php?speciesID=3221

12 comments:

  1. Great pictures of the Weever Fish Phil.
    And thanks for the tip about steering clear. Don't think I've ever come across one before.

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  2. Well spotted Phil!
    Your posts are great contributions to the blogging world.
    Stunning pics and info on the sea gooseberries too.

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  3. Hi keith, you'd probably be really unlucky to tread on one, but they are very hard to spot when they are buried in the sand. In future I'm going to be a bit more careful when I'm paddling barefoot!

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  4. Thanks for the kind comment Kingsdowner. It's a pleasure to be part of a community dedicated to sharing personal discoveries in the natural world.

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  5. What perfect camouflage on the shrimp. I've seen the odd bit in TV where people have stepped on a weever fish and it looks to be a very painful experience.

    Cracking photos as always Phil.

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  6. Fantastic post as always, Phil.

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  7. Hi Phil: excellent pictures of the shrimp showing how well it is camouflaged. I've heard about wearver fish but never seen one - the eye is a lovely shade of green.

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  8. Hi John, I've hear that if you dangle your bare feet in a rock pool shrimps will come and nibble the skin off your toes....must try it one day (when there are no weevers about)!

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  9. Thanks Dean, I would have liked to catch a shrimp or two for a better photo but didn't have anything convenient to keep them in at the time.

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  10. Hi Emma, I didn't realise that there were weever fish along the Northumberland coast until I saw this one.

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  11. Photography is more than a art. the creativity is built within the souls of the person who captures the incident as it is with a life in it. I have done a lot of photography but these ones are stunning guys.. :-0

    Amarjit Singh Kullar

    www.amarjitsinghkullar.info

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  12. Thanks for your kind comments Amarjit. Photography is a wonderful tool for exploring the world...

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