It won't win any beauty contests says Paul Naylor, but don't judge the wolf-fish by its fearsome appearance
JUST A PUSSYCAT The unmistakable wolf-fish (also known as the catfish) might look extremely fierce, but it is not aggressive unless provoked. This species is regularly spotted around St Abbs and the same individual, residing in its home crevice or cave, can be encountered repeatedly by visiting divers over several years.
BIG BAD BLENNY The wolf-fish's image is poles apart from the cute tompot blenny's, but its form is similar to that of its smaller counterpart. It can reach more than 1m long, but has the blenny-like large head, elongated body and extended dorsal fin. It also swims with the same wriggling motion, which appears clumsy but is surprisingly rapid.
NO NEED FOR DENTURES Munching armoured prey, such as urchins, crabs and whelks, is tough work for wolf-fish gnashers. However, a new set grows up from behind each year to replace the worn ones. Powerful grinding teeth at the side of the jaws are supplemented by fangs at the front, and strong cheek muscles are essential when it comes to the crunch!
NIGHTMARE DISH Wolf-fish are an incidental catch in trawl nets but the head is usually removed before it goes onto the market, for fear that the creature's ill-favoured appearance would have the punters running screaming from the fishmonger's. The tough skin can be used to make a type of leather.
COLD AND DEEP Wolf-fish are creatures of cold northern seas, and the UK is about as far south as they get. They often lurk at depths of between 100 and 300m but in some locations, such as the east coast of Scotland, they can be found in as little as 10m of water.
FREE-LIVING YOUTHS The female spawns in the winter, producing large, ball-like clumps of several thousand yellowish eggs on the seabed. After two months these hatch into larval fish which stay on the bottom while they use up their yolk reserves, but then spend some time floating with the plankton. They finally settle back on the seabed by the autumn.