Is it a wrasse? Is it a bream? No,Its a boarfish!
A long-nosed, orange and white fish peered nervously from under a rock at diver Colin Gray. When he took a closer look, he discovered that the strange visitor was, quite literally, out of its depth
|The beginning of last November found me putting a toe in the waters of Chesil Cove, Dorset. The weather had been superb, with persistent easterlies and a lot of sunshine. True, the south-westerlies and ground-swells which had scared me out of the water in September had only recently abated, but visibility was now 10m, and the fish life was starting to re-awaken. |
I more or less followed my usual route on this dive, which involved pottering along the edge of the sand patch in 9m. Often there is more to see there than further out, although visibility can be ruined by the dive schools that seem so fond of the area.
After a while, I realised that I was being watched. A small, orange fish with a pointed nose was peeping out from a hole under the rocks. Was it a wrasse A bream, perhaps Or possibly a young John Dory No.
All of these fish had been around recently, but what I could see of this chap told me that I had found something quite different; I realised that it was a boarfish.
All I knew about the boarfish was that it resembled a John Dory, and was rarely seen - probably because, as most marine life books agree, it lives at depths of 100-400m!
Boarfish grow to a maximum length of 16cm (although this one was smaller), and apparently they are sometimes brought inshore by upwelling currents like those that had been a feature of the recent weather.
I took a couple of pictures of it staring out of its hole, assuming that it would either hide or leave. But it did neither, and I resorted to an old technique to coax it into the open. Many fish respond passively to a human hand, preferably ungloved, and it proved a simple task to shepherd the boarfish gently from its refuge.
Clearly territorial, it refused to leave the area, and posed nicely for my camera. I returned to the same spot on each of the next three days, and each time the boarfish obliged me by posing for pictures.
On the fifth day onshore winds returned, followed by gales, and my diving season was over - but not before I had made a good record of a rare and unexpected meeting.
(Pictures were taken on Fuji 100 slide film, using a Sea & Sea MM II and a housed Canon F1 camera, triggering two Ikelite slave flashes by optical fibres.)
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