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Two More Unusual Catches And A Warning

A ‘Red Scorpion Fish’ was caught in the Celtic Sea off Co Waterford and a ‘Browned-off Black Sole’ in the Irish Sea off Howth. Two more unusual species caught in Irish waters.

The MFV Endeavour caught the rare Red Scorpion Fish while trawling in the Celtic Sea, It weighed 1.168 kgs, measured 37 cms. and is the sixth record of this fish in Irish waters. The first specimen weighed 1.12 kgs and measured 37 cms. and was taken by trawl during early December 2007 south of St John's Point, Co Down in the NW Irish Sea. Since then, four more specimens of similar size were recorded from the Celtic Sea, including three during 2010.

Red Scorpion-Fish Scorpaena scrofa captured by the MFV Endeavour in the Celtic Sea during September 2020

Declan Quigley of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, an expert in rare species, says it is possible that a small population of red scorpions may be established in the Celtic Sea, but so far there is no evidence of breeding in either Irish or UK waters. “This warm-water species currently appears to be at its maximum northerly extent in Irish waters where its sudden appearance over the last two decades may be related to increasing seawater temperatures in the North Atlantic.

There is a warning.

“Red Scorpion Fish have venomous spines, so it is necessary to be very careful handling them, either alive or dead,” says Mr.Quigley.

The “Browned-off Black Sole” was caught in October by the MFV Eblana - Skippers John and Brendan Lynch - in the Irish Sea off Howth, Co.Dublin. The specimen weighed 1.015 kgs and measured 425 mms.

Xanthochromic Black Sole (top) and normally coloured specimen (bottom)

“It was typically yellow-orange in colour compared with normally coloured Black Sole which are generally dark black-brown. This is generally considered to be caused by a genetic mutation and has frequently been shown to be a heritable trait in many species of captive-bred tropical aquarium fish,” according to Declan Quigley. There is only one previous record of this type of Black Sole, which was taken on October 21, 2015, by the MFV Elsie Maria II - Skipper: David Granville. This was a specimen measuring 280 mms., weighing 200 grams, while demersal trawling in Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry. It was donated to the Natural History Museum in Dublin.

• Declan Quigley is always interested in receiving reports from fishers about unusual species. Email declanquigley@eircom.net and phone 087-6458485.