Trawler & fishing boat paintings of A. Harwood & G. Arnold

Watercolour by G Arnold of the Scarborough steam trawler 'Scorpion' in heavy weather, painted in 1913.

Watercolour by G Arnold of the Scarborough steam trawler 'Scorpion' in heavy weather, painted in 1913.

D. E. WHITTAKER

 

From about 1880, the successful application of steam power to beam trawling began to oust the sailing trawler, and a boom in new-builds of both wooden and iron steam trawlers began along the entire east coast from Aberdeen to Grimsby. In the wake of this massive build of new trawlers was the fashion by owners and skippers, and sometimes by members of the crew, to have a painting of their boat on the wall at home, and two particular painters, A. Harwood and G. Arnold, became known among the fishermen of the coast, as specialist painters in fishing boat portraits. Arnold is perhaps less known, and many of his paintings have an unfinished appearance, and frequently the background of the sky is left unpainted. Harwood, 1851-1922, became a more prolific painter of such watercolour paintings, which are now historically interesting documents of this period of expansion in the fishing industry, and a number of his works are present in our collections.

He started to paint only later in his life, and his earliest paintings from the early 1890’s are basic and elementary, and probably because of this, few of this date have survived the dustbin, yet this is an interesting period in fisheries history, since although the sailing smack was fast disappearing, they were still at work in the fleets. In addition, these were also the transition years from the ancient beam trawl to the otter trawl that fishermen had thumbed their nose at for some decades past, but which would

An early painting by Harwood. Although badly mistreated, having been folded in half, and suffered water damage, it is historically very interesting, showing the early Scarborough steam trawler the Otter. Although the otter trawl was first introduced to commercial boats in 1895, this painting of 1896 shows the Otter still using beam gear.

An early painting by Harwood. Although badly mistreated, having been folded in half, and suffered water damage, it is historically very interesting, showing the early Scarborough steam trawler the Otter. Although the otter trawl was first introduced to commercial boats in 1895, this painting of 1896 shows the Otter still using beam gear.

revolutionise the fishing as steam had already done. All these changes in the morphology of the vessels are documented in the succession of paintings turned out by Harwood for his customers.

His technique quickly developed, and became more polished, though his paintings always remained strictly portrait and with boat and sea often very stylised, the vessels always shown broadside on, but after all, that is exactly what his clientele wanted. The vessels were usually depicted and purchased as a pair of paintings, one illustrating the boat in fine, flat-calm weather, under blue sky, while the second painting showed the vessel in foul weather, with riotous sea, foam and heavy sky.

Through the mid 20th century, their appeal waned and many were thrown away or sold out of the fishing families, a few at least, entering the export antiques trade and ending up in America, and many of the paired paintings of fair and foul weather rig became separated. Others suffered a different fate, and several old fishermen, interviewed in the 1960’s, recalled that several paintings that had ended up in fishermen’s stores and bait houses had eventually been turned to the wall, had a dart-board chalked on the back, and had been peppered with holes through games of darts. Years later the tales were corroborated when two such mistreated Harwood paintings were subsequently discovered and restored for our collection.

WE ARE ANXIOUS TO PURCHASE TRAWLER AND FISHING BOAT PAINTINGS BY THESE TWO ARTISTS FOR ENTRY INTO OUR HISTORICAL SEQUENCE, SO PLEASE CONTACT DAVE WHITTAKER IF YOU HAVE AN EXAMPLE THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST AND THAT YOU WISH TO SELL.

A late Harwood of the Scarborough trawler 'Taranaki', painted in 1920 when she had just joined the fleet. Operated by the Stepney Steam Fishing Co. Ltd, her career was short-lived, as she was sunk by mine with the death of one crewman.

A late Harwood of the Scarborough trawler 'Taranaki', painted in 1920 when she had just joined the fleet. Operated by the Stepney Steam Fishing Co. Ltd, her career was short-lived, as she was sunk by mine with the death of one crewman.

A later painting, 1921, by Harwood of the 'Albion' of Scarborough, the last sailing vessel owned by the Colling family. This painting had been used as a dart-board.

A later painting, 1921, by Harwood of the 'Albion' of Scarborough, the last sailing vessel owned by the Colling family. This painting had been used as a dart-board.

Scarborough trawler ‘Independence’ nets a crawfish, Palinurus elephas, a rare catch for the Central North Sea

The crawfish recently caught by the Scarborough trawler Independence, skipper Mark Cappleman, off Flamborough Head.

The crawfish recently caught by the Scarborough trawler Independence, skipper Mark Cappleman, off Flamborough Head.

The crew of the Scarborough trawler Independence, FR 196, had a surprise when emptying their net off Flamborough recently, when they discovered a crawfish among the catch. The North Sea is not within the usual distribution of the crawfish, Palinurus elephas, so it was not surprising that the crew of the trawler had not seen one before.  Skipper Mark Cappleman, realising he’d caught something unusual, put the spiny crustacean in a tub of water and made a few calls ashore to find out more about his catch.

We could tell Mark that this is the first crawfish ever taken by a boat working out of Scarborough, and according to our biodiversity records, it is only the fourth to be found in the Central North sea area, the first being a long way back when a specimen was taken  by a beam trawler in the 1880’s, curiously enough in the same area, off Flamborough Head.

The specimen from Independence is now being kept alive in one of our holding aquaria until a larger tank is prepared.

The crawfish is common off the south-west of the British Isles, and valuable fisheries produce quantities from there and off Ireland. The species extends further north, however, but with increasing scarcity, off the west coast of Scotland and as far as the Shetlands.

The crawfish is regarded as rare off the east coast of Scotland, and is virtually unknown further south, so that any records from the North Sea are of great interest. The current record of the crawfish adds to a growing list of unusual North Sea crustacean records that have accumulated from the Yorkshire area over the past twenty years or so.

Recent swarming of the Harlequin Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas), on the Yorkshire coast.

D. E. Whittaker

The Harlequin ladybird, a recent introduction to the British fauna, is the most variably coloured and patterned ladybird  to be found in the British Isles. Otherwise known as the Multicoloured Asiatic ladybird, it was introduced into Europe as a biological control agent, spreading rapidly through western Europe, then to the British Isles, where it was first found in southern England in the summer of 2004. By the late summer of 2007 it had reached east Yorkshire and has since been recorded to the north of Scotland.

A cluster of harlequin ladybids, Harmonia, from the recent swarm along the Yorkshire coast. Notice the extreme variability of this ladybird.

A cluster of harlequin ladybids, Harmonia, from the recent swarm along the Yorkshire coast. Notice the extreme variability of this ladybird.

As a voracious predator in both its adult and larval stages, there are fears that it could have a detrimental effect not just on our native ladybirds, but on other insect species as well. Some scientists have predicted that it will seriously effect probably several hundred of our native British species, and so the insect fauna throughout Britain is being monitored closely to see what effect, if any, the Harlequin ladybird explosion has through the next few years.

The Yorkshire coast now appears to be thoroughly populated by this ladybird. In the path of strong southerly air flows along the country in October 2009, large numbers of the beetle swept through the Yorkshire area. In late October, further warm southerly winds from the Sahara induced the beetles to flight and on one morning near Scarborough, thousands were seen on the wing and alighting on herbage. The swarm penetrated at least to Cleveland. With torrential rain the following week, masses of the beetle were seen among flood refuse in the Tees at Stockton. More observant members of the public had found them in their houses, while one lady at Scarborough was surprised to find 25 sheltering under her dustbin lid.

With such a large population of the beetle now present in the Scarborough district and throughout the area, where many of the recent swarm will doubtless hibernate successfully over the winter, a noticable explosion of Harmonia larvae may be expected along the North East coast in 2010.

Parasitic Isopod crustaceans from the Yorkshire coast & Central North Sea – a photographic guide

D. E. WHITTAKER

 

The large parasitic isopod Aega psora feeding on a red mullet trawled in the central North Sea.

The large parasitic isopod Anilocra feeding on a red mullet trawled in the central North Sea.

Members of the large crustacean order, the Isopoda, occur in a wide range of habitats, from the deep sea to the sea-shore, through rivers and ponds, to terrestrial habitats of gardens and woodland. Their body shape throughout all these diverse habitats is broadly similar to that typified by the woodlouse, being dorso-ventrally flattened, and divided into a broad head bearing lateral eyes, a thorax of seven segments, and an abdomen of six segments.

A number of marine isopods have adopted a parasitic way of life, either as juveniles or adults, with very little change to their morphology. A number of other isopod groups, however, have become such highly specialised parasites, that their morphology, particularly of the females, has become so distorted as to make them almost unrecognisable as isopods:-

The Bopyridae live in the branchial chambers of crabs and prawns, the Entoniscidae live internally in the viscera of crabs, the Dajidae on mysids and euphausiids, and the Cryptoniscidae in barnacles.

Several parasitic species are to be found in the coastal and off-shore areas of the central North sea and are readily identified from these images of specimens recorded in the area.

Detail of Aega psora firmly anchored by means of its powerful claws, to a red mullet upon which it is feeding.

Detail of Anilocra frontalis firmly anchored by means of its powerful claws, to a red mullet upon which it is feeding.

GNATHIA SPP

The curious isopods of this genus are benthic, but give rise to a small parasitic larval stage known as a praniza, that are commonly found on fishes along the Yorkshire coast.

ANILOCRA FRONTALIS

A large species growing to 45mm in length, it is found clinging and feeding on fishes. Possibly many individuals become dislodged from their hosts during the trauma and crush of trawling operations, thus distorting evidence of the true status of this species, but on present records it appears to be a very rare isopod in the North Sea.

ATHELGES PAGURI

Usually found attached to the abdomen of hermit crabs, Pagurus, but may occur also in the branchial cavity of the same host.

BOPYROIDES HIPPOLYTES

Athelges paguri attached to the abdomen of the hermit crab. Specimen from off Scarborough.

Athelges paguri attached to the abdomen of the hermit crab. Specimen from off Scarborough.

This species occurs in the branchial cavity of the common Hippolyte varians, orientated with its dorsum towards the gills, and the ventral surface and brood chamber facing externally. The presence of the parasite produces a swollen aspect to the carapace of the host.

GYGE BRANCHIALIS

Similar in morphology to Bopyroides, this species is frequent in the branchial chambers of species of the burrowing decapod Upogebia, that is present in large numbers off the Yorkshire coast.

PLEUROCRYPTA MARGINATA

This appears to be a rare species on the Yorkshire coast, and is found in the branchial chamber of species of Galathea, the squat lobster. Infected hosts are unlikely to be overlooked due to the carapace distortion caused by the parasite.

PLEUROCRYPTA PORCELLANAE

A common species along the coast, infecting the long-clawed porcelain crab, Pisidia longicornis. There is usually no distortion of the carapace of the host, or any other external evidence of infection.

Pleurocrypta porcellanae is a common Yorkshire isopod, parasitic in the long-clawed pocellain crab, Pisidia.

Pleurocrypta porcellanae is a common Yorkshire isopod, parasitic in the long-clawed pocellain crab, Pisidia.

Hippolyte infected with the isopod Bopyroides. Video still image from a specimen filmed at Robin Hoods Bay.

Hippolyte infected with the isopod Bopyroides. Video still image from a specimen filmed at Robin Hoods Bay.

Hippolyte, a small prawn common on the shore, infected with the isopod Bopyroides hippolyte. The parasite is brooding a clutch of yellow eggs that can be seen through the distortion of the carapace of the host.

Hippolyte, a small prawn common on the shore, infected with the isopod Bopyroides hippolyte. The parasite is brooding a clutch of yellow eggs that can be seen through the distortion of the carapace of the host.

Marine-Life Of The Yorkshire Coast – Marine Fishes Of The Yorkshire Coast

D. E. WHITTAKER

(edited version of full MS)

The Yorkshire Marine Fish Survey 1967-[2011]

Introduction-Early days of the Survey

The small-boat and trawl fishermen of Scarborough have for some decades been playing an important part in the investigation of the marine life found off the Yorkshire coast.

In 1967, all skippers and crews operating from the port were approached by the author and asked to bring back on a constant and daily basis, anything out of the cod-end ‘rubbish’ – from sea-cucumbers to crabs, shells, old timber, whale bones and skulls, that could be of interest, and in particular, any fishes that they perhaps knew, but only saw occasionally or which were distinctly uncommon or unknown to them.Within a few days a constant flow of specimens from the off-shore grounds was being collected and taken ashore for measuring, dissection and recording.

The recording programme of the local marine biodiversity was further enhanced by the examination of fish stomach contents, by shore collections and an examination of any unusual fishes, whales and dolphins reported washed up on the shore by contacts or members of the public. One particular fish was only likely to be found by this means; the oarfish Regalecus glesne, historically has an especial association with the stretch of coast from the  Firth of Forth to Flamborough Head, and because scant biological

Head of the oarfish, Regalecus glesne, stranded on the beach at Sandsend near Whitby in 1981.

Head of the oarfish, Regalecus glesne, stranded on the beach at Sandsend near Whitby in 1981.

knowledge has been extracted from those British fish that have occurred during the last two hundred and fifty years, every effort has been made to act quickly when learning of Regalecus findings on the shore and to endeavour to secure for examination the few specimens that have occurred during the survey period.

 

Fishing effort at the start of the survey

Although not realised at the time, the survey began at an opportune moment, as the Yorkshire fleets were at this time being slowly restructured and, although perhaps no one in the industry or in the fisheries laboratories at the time were aware of it, were on the verge of massive growth and investment, driven by the increasing quantities of cod coming onto the grounds and the corresponding financial returns of the fishery. Inshore trawling using keelboats had begun a few years earlier at Scarborough and elsewhere, using the new lightweight and more efficient polypropylene nets and plastic floats, although the old-fashioned metal bobbins were still to be used on the foot-rope for a few years more. Basket-lining from the keel-boats had only just been totally displaced by trawling gear, and new vessels had  already begun to enter into the fleet. In 1968 the growth of so called ‘inshore’ trawling began to boom with the pattern being repeated at Bridlington and Whitby, and within a few short years the Yorkshire fleet with its attendant manpower and trawling effort had tripled.

 

Historical Recording of Yorkshire Fishes

Very few naturalists have shown an interest in the fishes, or indeed the marine-life generally, occurring on the Yorkshire coast, and there has never been any previous project to daily monitor the catches of the commercial fleet, the only way to constantly access the off-shore species, or to extend observations over a long period. Many species had previously been overlooked, and the true status and frequency of others, both resident and visiting vagrants, was unknown.

Previous observers include Meynell and Rudd, in the early and mid 19th century, while somewhat later, at Scarborough, the wealthy banker J. W. Woodall, who probably had a deeper interest in fisheries than banking, fitted his private steam vessel, 96 feet long and called the “Garland”, with a 25 foot beam trawl, to carry out his own private research. Thomas Stephenson, the curator of Whitby Museum from 1880 to 1916, gathered some interesting information from the activities of the fishing boats there, while at Flamborough, Matthew Bailey and John Cordeaux also took a brief interest in fishes, and at Bridlington, Thomas Boynton noted some interesting occurrences. A naturalist at Scarborough, W.J.Clarke, well known locally because of his keeping of a large boa-constrictor, had made a few scattered observations on fishes, but had no persistant interest or contact with the fishing fleet.

In the 1920’s, however, two young brothers, D. G. and J. A. Stephenson, became interested in local marine life and became friendly with the Scarborough steam trawler crews, providing some of the trawlers with containers of formalin in which to deposit items of interest. Their energetic activities in turn stimulated the fish-market superintendant, F. D. Taylor, to look out for interesting captures landed by the fleet.

The records arising from the Stephenson brothers and Taylor, renewed Clarke’s interest in marine fish, and also coincided with the gossip around the harbour about the tunny-fish being seen off-shore, with a reward subsequently being offered by a sea-front business man for one of the huge fish to be brought ashore. On September 7th 1929, the steam-drifter Ascendant, whose crew, like those of many other steam drifters, had been harpooning the big fish as a

The first tunny brought into Scarborough on the 7th September 1929.

The first tunny brought into Scarborough on the 7th September 1929.

pastime, brought in one of the tunnies, hanging over her port bow, in order to claim the reward. With this first tangeable proof of the fish to come into a Yorkshire port, Clarke began a series of articles for the angling press on the presence of the big-game fish off the Yorkshire coast, and for this valuable contribution in helping to bring the attention of the wealthy big-game anglers to the resort and the availability of the sport on its doorstep, was subsequently given a citation and a miniature gold tunny by the Harbour Commisioners.

The Stephenson brothers work, however, was brief, and they emigrated to Canada, and shortly after, Taylor  retired from his job and contact with the fish market due to ill health. Clarke, or “Old Fuzzy” as he became known to the steam drifter and trawler-men of Scarborough, continued to record the landings of the tunny and other captures of the fleet, through the 1930’s and  also became fascinated with the occurrence of unusual squid which appeared in the area about this same time.

Following his efforts to secure an 18 feet long specimen of the giant squid, Architeuthis, which came ashore in perfect condition in the middle of the South Bay at Scarborough, only to be jumped upon and generally mauled by the crowd that assembled around it, Clarke was honoured by having the squid named after him by Robson, the cephalopod expert at the British Museum, where the specimen is today preserved in alcohol. In 1944, shortly before his death, Clarke published the “List of Yorkshire Marine Fishes” a brief summary but of little detail, and which further contains many inaccuracies and omissions, and following which the observation of fishes occurring along the Yorkshire coast became totally neglected.

The present ongoing survey is, therefore, historically the only project on the NE coast to have daily monitored the frequency of fishes, including not only the rarer, more exotic species, including oar-fish, blackfishes, opah and sturgeon, but also those which are well-known to the fishermen, such as the red-mullet, dory, and the shads, together with those which are less frequent, such as the various sea-breams and Rays bream.

 

Rare Fish Miscellany

The majority of unusual fish taken off the Yorkshire Coast are from areas well to the south of the British Isles, or from the open Atlantic, while a few others of more northern distribution also occur sporadically. Most of these are variable both in the timing of their annual appearance and in the small numbers in which they occur in north-eastern waters. The reasons for such captures are probably as many and as varied, and indeed just as intangeable, as are the theories for their happening at all.

Thus, the early years of the survey were dominated by the phenomenal appearance of the Ray’s bream, Brama brama, whose migration into the North sea progressively increased and waned from the late 1960’s to the mid 1980’s, and may now be repeating the same phenomenon 40 years later. Hundreds of specimens have been examined, measured and recorded at Scarborough since 1967, including 50 from the recent winter of 2008/9.

This apparent increase in the numbers of this fish migrating northward and into the North sea from the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, was not reflected by captures of any other oceanic species taken in these waters. There was, for example, no increase in occurrences of the oceanic blackfish, Centrolophus, or of the sunfish, Mola,  during that period, although the latter was captured in far greater numbers during 1973 than had been recorded in any previous year in the historical record.

Since 1967 the general pattern of the migrations of the more frequent arrivals has become more clear, but every now and then a boat returns with one of the more interesting  infrequent captures, such as that by George Pockley of Flamborough, of a fine ribbon-like dealfish, Trachipterus, in his salmon net in 1970.

In 1971, a gilthead sea-bream, Sparus aurata, was trawled up by Scarborough Skipper Jim Sheader of Mary Allison, while a Spanish bream, Pagellus acarne, was caught by Jim Mason of Onward Star in 1974; both of these are extremely rare visitors to the North Sea. Equally surprising was the trawling of a Greenland Shark, Somniosus, only 3ft. in length, just 16 miles off Scarborough by Michael “Andy” Anderson of Nicola Suzanne in 1978.

This shark was an occasional capture off the Yorkshire coast during the latter part of the 19th century, but the 1978 fish was only the third to be recorded here in the next, and was more remarkable for such a small, recently liberated pup, to be found so far south.

The singular occurrence of such ‘exotics’ in waters far from their normal habitat may be expected as a matter of course on every fishing ground, every year, but on occasion the numbers are greater, or a number of species from distant home grounds may appear together.

In 1977 the largest number of the Greater fork-beard, Phycis, taken in Yorkshire waters were accompanied by another

A large opah, a rare visitor to the central North sea, trawled off the Yorkshire coast

A large opah, a rare visitor to the central North sea, trawled off the Yorkshire coast

rare sea-bream, the Bogue, Boops boops, again from Filey bay, and a fine example of that diminutive tuna, the Frigate mackerel, Auxis rochei, taken by Fred Walkington in his nets in Bridlington Bay, was one of a mere handful of occasions when this fish has been taken so far north, while a related small tuna, the Bonito or Pelamid, Sarda sarda, has occurred a little more frequently, usually in the salmon nets in Filey Bay.

The appearance of species in this manner may perhaps be clues to slight or evenly grossly abnormal variations in hydrological systems, perhaps greater insurgence of water masses into the North sea from either its northern or southern entrances, but this is speculation, of course, unless correlation can be achieved with available data from observations on salinities, sea temperatures, and especially studies on the minute drifting life of the sea, the plankton.

During the 70’s, Blue whiting, Micromesistius were taken by by Scarborough and Whitby  boats, the first time during the present survey, and equally surprising were captures of the rabbit-fish, Chimaera monstrosa, by Jim Leadley, just a few miles off Whitby, and of the large red-fish, Sebastes marinus, by Scarborough skipper Frank Taal of ‘Tim Windsor’, both of which were recorded for the first time on this part of the coast.

Survey work also extends to sampling of secretive, resident fish such as the Tadpole fish, Raniceps and the Yarrell’s blenny, Chirolophis, both of which are well-known to local crab and lobster fishermen, at least by sight if not by name, as frequent captures in their baited traps, but  whose biology is still little known and which elsewhere around much of the British Isles are much overlooked and even today regarded as rare or unusual.

 

Biological Changes, Over-fishing & Climate Change

The Yorkshire coast, fronting  the rich waters of the central North Sea and the vast central bank of the Dogger, is many ways unique in the hydrological influences  it receives, since it is both at the tail end  of currents derived from the Gulf Stream  via the North Atlantic Drift while at the same time also receives influence derived from the Channel influx.  It thus receives planktonic and other organisms from warmer more exotic waters, together with rare fishes from the open Atlantic, with crops of species records not seen elsewhere because of this phenomenon.  At the same time it receives southern species from the southern North Sea and via the Channel. A number of northern animals disappear at their southern most limit along the Yorkshire coast.  The waters of the western central North Sea are therefore a most suitable place to try and quantify any effects of environmental change with respect to “global warming” or NAO

The boarfish, Capros, is a deep water species from the continental shelf. It is an extremely rare occurrence on the Yorkshire coast.

The boarfish, Capros, is a deep water species from the continental shelf. It is an extremely rare occurrence on the Yorkshire coast.

induced effects.  In the event of any creeping environmental changes taking place in British  waters, its singular properties make it more likely that effects will be very noticeable here, and it would also therefore be of no surprise if great changes to established historic fisheries were also to take effect.  Indeed the fisheries of the Yorkshire coast  have altered radically since 1990 alongside noticeable  faunistic changes, a few of which have been noticed by fishermen.

The difficulty is in identifying and quantifying what is an effect of over-fishing, and which if any, those  of environmental parameters.  However, it is beyond doubt that there have indeed been huge biological changes in this very unique and distinct sea area. Although not its original purpose, the survey had, from its initiation, the potential of revealing shifts  in species frequency provided the daily recording was intense and constant enough and the co-operation of local fishermen could be kept going on a long-term basis.

After such a long period of recording the species frequenting this area, immense changes have been recorded among a number of invertebrate and fish taxa, and three in particular may be cited here, including the Red Mullet and the Velvet Swimming crab.There is one particular  fish, however, known in Britain as the Blue Mouth Red-fish, and elsewhere in the world as the Rosebelly Sculpin, whose distribution has so radically changed above all others, that  it has become a most important North Sea indicator, excluding the debatable cod,  to demonstrate that there has indeed been a major climate-induced shift in the ecology of this marine species that hitherto fore had a clearly defined ecological niche, and from which juveniles have been disturbed, transported and dispersed with subsequently amazing results.

Distributional Change in the Blue Mouth Red-fish Helicolenus dactylopterus dactylopterus.

The fact that the biology and distribution of this fish have changed so dramatically and spectacularly must have

The blue mouth redfish, a deep water scorpaenid from the continental shelf. The species flooded into the North sea in the early 1990's and is now resident of the Yorkshire coast.

The blue mouth redfish, a deep water scorpaenid from the continental shelf. The species flooded into the North sea in the early 1990's and is now resident of the Yorkshire coast.

implications in any view of what may or may not be happening to other marine species and community systems and the transport mechanism of larval and ‘o’ group fishes into and down the North Sea. The captures by surprised Galway fishermen and anglers put the species on the front page of Fishing News (May  28 2001), but that small news item belied the terrific change that had taken place with regard to the ecology of this fish during the previous decade, and which event suggests that the rise or fall in levels of other species may equally have been effected to some degree by this same mechanism.

Prior to 1986 there was no suggestion of any particular trend or long-term event taking place on the Yorkshire Coast, other than the deteriorating status of the cod stocks from the early 60s boom, and relevant warnings about this to the industry from the scientific community, except for a small but definite shift in the status of the Velvet Swimming Crab, which by 1990 had become a huge and exploitable population.  However at the end of the 80s and early 90s an unprecedented crop of mostly extremely rare fishes associated with oceanic conditions  were caught in the Yorkshire area.. These included specimens of the barrel-fish, Hyperoglyphe and the Cornish blackfish, Schedophilus, species  that are particularly rare at any point in the British Isles, and  remarkable records  of  the Boar fish, Capros, and the deep-water smooth-head, Alepocephalus; all fishes associated with deep-water or the continental slope, and transported  in from the Atlantic.

At the same time, small juvenile specimens of the Blue Mouth, Helicolenus, began to appear over the North Sea grounds, but these were to prove to be no transitory invaders, they were to become permanent, reproductive residents to some of these newly colonised Yorkshire localities.

Marbled in red, pink and white, adults of this striking and sedentary fish attain great age and a length of more than 32 cm in some British localities.  Until 1990 this fish remained associated with its typical textbook habitat, the continental slope of the  western seaboard in depths over 200 metres, thence across the northern North sea to the deep water about Norway. The only adult breeding population south of this, at least  known to this author, being of  a colony of large fine fish confined to the deeper-water trench of the Moray Firth, just a few miles off Fraserborough. Its relatively deep water habitat also meant it was largely unknown to many British fishermen.

South of this, the species was entirely absent, and historically there are only a few odd records of its occurrence, including one fish that astounded the knowledgeable and pioneering fisheries biologist, E.W.L Holt, when it was caught in 5 fathoms near the Humber estuary during his period of work at the Grimsby docks. It was therefore not  a species that was expected to be seen in the present survey, but when the juveniles, at obviously the minimum size the commercial trawls would retain, suddenly began to be taken  in local catches they immediately became the subject of particular study, with fishermen at the port being encouraged to return every example they came across.

Succeeding years saw them being taken throughout the area  and southwards even into  the Wash. For a brief period the species was scattered and widespread, but with time it retracted to particularly colonise the deeper grounds including those off the Tees, the holes and pits about the Dogger, and off the Humber. It has even been taken in the shallow waters of the Bloden ground with its very different current system principally originating from the Channel. There is also some indication that at some pits near the Dogger, it has displaced to some extent the orange coloured Norway Haddock, Sebastes viviparous, with which some fishermen may confuse it, and which were formerly well known residents in those areas.

From the initial catches of small fishes in the early 1990’s, the insurgents have grown steadily year on year,  the largest fishes at present always being male. Hundreds of specimens have now been returned over the years for biological sampling and age determination in a study that is ongoing. A number of live specimens were taken to Sea-Life Centres without any success in maintaining them, while three fish were retained alive by this author for more than two years, when they proved to be the most inactive of fish, perching frog-like, on the “ fingers” of the pectoral fins, often holding position without moving for days or weeks  on end, and preferring to take prey only when it was practically on their snout.

The close size-composition of the catches, and the progressive increments in size in each succeeding year, demonstrates that the fish currently living in this area  principally originated from the massive influx of tiny fish of two or three year-classes  in the early 90s. Whatever physical abnormality of their environment caused such a  massive

The maturing ovaries of Helicolenus are gelatinous in appearance. After mating, sperm is stored in the ovaries and fertilisation occurs internally later in the cycle

The maturing ovaries of Helicolenus are gelatinous in appearance. After mating, sperm is stored in the ovaries and fertilisation occurs internally later in the cycle

displacement of the juveniles of this species, the ensuing conditions also ensured their survival, since this fish has now been resident in a huge and shallow sea area with which, most importantly,  it had no previous biological association or success, and virtually no historical record.

Its new found success is further demonstrated by the fact that, as individuals quickly grew to maturity, spawning is believed to have first occurred in 1996, but most definitely in 1997. For the last few years, therefore, pelagic eggs and larval stages have entered the plankton in a sea area where they too had never been represented before.

It may be pointed out that the eggs of this species, in contrast to those of most other British fish, were unknown to science as little as thirty years ago, and indeed its strange reproductive biology has only been clarified in the last few years, despite commercial activity on this species in other parts of the world.

In the late 90’s, small three and four year old fish have begun to be caught again, for the first time since the original insurgents appeared, among the now older and mature fish.  The sudden precipitation of juveniles into the North Sea from their deep-water niche of the Continental slope nearly two decades ago, is in some way associated with the NAO, and it is suggested that the previous appearance of these fish in these waters almost exactly one hundred years before, was due to the same mechanism. On that occasion, however, the effect must have been on a very much smaller scale and with nothing like the same number of individuals being transported into the central North Sea grounds; there was no subsequent success of colonisation and reproduction, the phenomenon witnessed during the 1990’s.

It remains to be seen whether the species will retain its hold on these new habitats in the future, and whether it can , in these localities, attain the great age and size of  those living deeper down on the continental slope, but the continued presence and ageing of the original insurgents, and the appearance of new generations perhaps originating on their new

A landing of red mullet at Scarborough. During the early years of the survey this was a scarce North sea species.

A landing of red mullet at Scarborough. During the early years of the survey this was a scarce North sea species.

North Sea spawning grounds, suggests that it will.

Changes in the Status of the Red Mullet, Mullus surmeletus

Essentially a fish of southern waters, the Channel, and previously, in limited numbers in  the eastern Southern North Sea, this fish formerly occurred in very  small numbers  elsewhere throughout the North Sea and  Scottish waters, being generally regarded as rare in these areas. In the past, incidence for Yorkshire waters has always been low, in some years occurrences not even reaching double figures, although  tiny juvenile fish, some 7/10 cm TL, were discovered during the survey, from infrequent findings in cod stomachs, to be frequenting the coastline, and were not  being sampled by the trawl. This species too has shown a marked increase through the 1990’s with a brief yearly fishery for it developing early in the decade on a centre of increasing aggregation discovered at that time.  Despite the targeting of this brief shoaling area in summer by numerous boats of various N.E.ports, together with French boats, the species continues to be an increasingly successful North Sea species. Fishing activity on this area was heavy in 2001 and included two Whitby boats landing some 1750 kilos of red mullet one morning in late June

During the last two decades, records of its occurrence on the Yorkshire coast have increased steadily to the point where it is now frequently the case that as many red mullet appear on just one days market as were previously accumulated in 2, 3 or more years of records in the early days of the survey.

Changes in the status of the Velvet  Swimming crab,

Although known from most  areas  around the British Isles, the population of this species on the Yorkshire coast could

A common species occurring just offshore. It has a gelatinous appearance and a loose skin, and has a sucker disc on the belly between the fins, by which means it can fasten itself to the sea bed.

Liparis liparis, a common species occurring just offshore. It has a gelatinous appearance and a loose skin, and has a sucker disc on the belly between the fins, by which means it can fasten itself to the sea bed.

previously have been described  as scarce or uncommon; in fact during  a particular museum project in 1967 to obtain living specimens, it proved  impossible to secure specimens, either from commercial crab-potting boats, most of whose crews had never seen a specimen, or from the shore; similarly, it was at that time also unknown to the local angling fraternity who regularly work the shore for soft-crab bait.

Since the early 1980’s there has been a complete change in the status of this crab on this coastline, where for a period it continued to proliferate year by year. Such a  population  explosion in a crustacean has not been experienced here by any other species at any previous time. For a while this crab  began to displace the previously abundant green shore crab throughout the area, and it has become the dominant species on the Yorkshire shore, while offshore it is taken down to 40 metres.

So abundant has it  become that occasionally some areas were avoided by  inshore trawlers due to the immense quantities capable of being taken and the damage to be incurred on the nets.  Although a goodly local fishery now exists for a species once so uncommon, the difficulties associated with handling and keeping have deferred anything other than comparatively minor landings at Scarborough.

Whether the displacement of species other than the shore crab is occurring, for example on other species of  swimming crab which are among the principle prey items of young cod, has not so far been noticed. Given the unprecedented and

A large John Dory of 1.8 kg from the central North sea. Fish of this size are rare in this sea area, most being juveniles of one or two years of age.

A large John Dory of 1.8 kg from the central North sea. Fish of this size are rare in this sea area, most being juveniles of one or two years of age.

continuing explosion of this species to the present level, its position vis a vis the important local lobster stocks is of interest since a potential may exist for adverse competition with, or even predation of, lobster juveniles and their recruitment to the fishery. No such conflict has been observed however, and lobster stocks appear to be stronger than they have ever previously been.

Many other species changes have been noted including the welcome return of increasing numbers of halibut, Hippoglossus, and infrequent captures of the black-bellied angler, Lophius budegassa, another new species to the Yorkshire fauna, not seen in the central North Sea prior to the 1990s. The greater frequency of certain squids, including the “soft” squid Todaropsis eblanae from the north and Loligo vulgaris from the southern North Sea and Channel, both useful indicators of various water masses originating from different entries of this enclosed sea area, has also been notable. Other species, including the Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, has also greatly increased in this sea area, to the point of  now being capable of supporting a  valuable winter fishery. Numbers of Twaite shad, Alosa fallax, have also increased, possibly associated with climate change and a greater northward, winter-time, migration, although another southern species, the Dory, Zeus faber, appears to have shown no marked change in frequency during the entire length of the survey. Some species, however, have become extinct in the area, and the populations of others greatly depressed, from their mid 1960’s status.

Fishes recorded from the North East coast & Central North Sea

Myxinidae

Myxine glutinosa Linnaeus, 1758 Hagfish, Devourer

Petromyzonidae

Petromyzon marinus Linnaeus, 1758 Sea Lamprey

Lampetra fluviatilis (Linnaeus, 1758) River Lamprey

Isuridae

Lamna nasus (Bonnaterre, 1788) Porbeagle Shark

Cetorhinidae

Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765) Basking Shark

Alopiidae

Alopias vulpinus (Bonnaterre, 1788) Thresher or Fox Shark

Scyliorhinidae

Scyliorhinus canicula (Linnnaeus, 1758) Lesser spotted dogfish, locally Nurse

Scyliorhinus stellaris (Linnaeus, 1758) Nursehound, Greater spotted Dogfish

Carcharinidae

Prionace glauca (Linnaeus, 1758) Blue Shark

Triakidae

Mustelus asterias Cloquet, 1821 Starry Smooth Hound

Galeorhinus galeus (Linnaeus, 1758)  Tope

Squalidae

Squalus acanthias Linnaeus, 1758  Spiny or Spur dogfish

Echinorhinus bruchus (Bonnaterre, 1788) Spinous or Bramble Shark

Somniosus microcephalus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) Greenland Shark

Squatinidae

Squatina squatina (Linnaeus, 1758) Fiddle fish, Monk fish

Torpedinidae

Torpedo nobiliana Bonaparte, 1835 Electric Ray

Torpedo marmorata Risso,1810 Marbled Electric Ray

Rajidae

Raja oxyrhynchus Linnaeus, 1758 Long nosed Skate

Raja batis Linnaeus, 1758 Blue Skate

Raja fullonica Linnaeus 1758 Shagreen Ray

Raja undulata Lacepede, 1802  Undulate Ray

Raja radiata Donovan, 1808 Starry Ray

Raja naevus Muller & Henle, 1841 Cuckoo Ray

Raja circularis Couch, 1838 Sandy Ray

Raja montagui Fowler, 1910 Spotted Ray

Raja clavata Linnaeus, 1758 Roker, Thornback Ray

Raja brachyura Blonde Ray

Dasyatidae

Dasyatis pastinaca (Linnaeus,1758) Sting Ray

Myliobatidae

Myliobatis aquila (Linnaeus, 1758) Eagle Ray

Chimaeridae

Chimaera monstrosa Linnaeus, 1758 Chimaera, Rat fish

Acipenseridae

Acipenser sturio Linnaeus, 1758 Sturgeon

Alepocephalidae

Alepocephalus bairdii Goode & Bean, 1879 Bairds Smoothhead

Clupeidae

Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758) Anchovy

A catch of shads from the Yorkshire coast, including a single large allis shad among the more abundant twaite shad

A catch of shads from the Yorkshire coast, including a single large allis shad among the more abundant twaite shad

Alosa alosa(Linnaeus, 1758) Allis Shad

Alosa fallax (Lacepede, 1803) Twaite Shad

Sardina pilchardus (Walbaum, 1792) Pilchard, Sardine

Sprattus sprattus (Linnaeus, 1758) Sprat

Clupea harengus Linnaeus, 1758 Herring

Gonostomatidae

Maurolicus muelleri (Gmelin, 1788) Pearl side

Salmonidae

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha (Walbaum, 1792)

Salmo salar Linnaeus,1758 Salmon

Ovaries of an immature twaite shad from the winter migration off the Yorkshire coast.

Ovaries of an immature twaite shad from the winter migration off the Yorkshire coast.

Salmo trutta Linnaeus, 1758 Sea trout

Argentinidae

Argentina silus (Ascanius, 1775) Greater Argentine

Argentina sphyraena Linnaeus, 1758 Lesser Argentine

Osmeridae

Osmerus eperlanus Linnaeus, 1758 Smelt

Anguillidae

Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) Common Eel

Congridae

The huge gonads of a maturing twaite shad from the annual winter migration off the Yorkshire coast.

The large ovaries of a maturing twaite shad from the annual winter migration off the Yorkshire coast.

Conger conger ([Artedi, 1738] Linnaeus, 1758) Conger Eel

Scomberisocidae

Scomberesox saurus(Walbaum, 1792) Skipper,

Belonidae Garfish

Belone belone (Linnaeus, 1761) Garfish

Macrorhamphosidae

Macrorhamphosus scolopax (Linnaeus, 1758)

Syngnathidae Pipefishes

Syngnathus typhle Linnaeus 1758  Broad-nosed pipefish

Syngnathus acus Linnaeus, 1758 Greater pipe-fish

Syngnathus rostellatus Nilsson, 1855  Nillsons pipe-fish

Entelurus aequoreus (Linnaeus, 1758) Snake pipe-fish

Nerophis lumbriciformis (Jenyns, 1835) Worm pipe-fish

Nerophis ophidion (Linnaeus, 1758) Straight-nosed pipe-fish

Hippocampus ramulosus Leach,1814 Sea-horse

Gasterosteidae

Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758 Stickleback

Spinachia spinachia (Linnaeus, 1758) Fifteen-spined stickleback

Merlucciidae

Merluccius merluccius (Linnaeus, 1758) Hake

Gadidae Codfishes

Micromesistius poutassou (Risso,1826)   Blue whiting

Merlangius merlangus (Linnaeus, 1758) Whiting

Trisopterus luscus Bib, Pout

Trisopterus esmarkii (Nilsson,1855) Norway pout

Trisopterus minutus (Linnaeus, 1758) Poor cod

Pollachius pollachius (linnaeus, 1758) Coal-fish

Pollachius virens (Linnaeus, 1758) Pollack

Gadus morhua Linnaeus, 1758 Cod

Melanogrammus aeglefinus (Linnaeus, 1758) Haddock

Brosme brosme (Ascanius, 1772) Tusk

Phycis blennoides (Brunnich, 1768) Greater fork-beard

Molva molva (Linnaeus, 1758) Ling

Raniceps raninus (Linnaeus, 1758) Tadpole fish, Lesser fork-beard

Gaidropsarus mediterraneus (Linnaeus, 1758) Shore (three-bearded) rockling

Gaidropsarus vulgaris (Cloquet, 1824) Three-bearded Rockling (offshore)

Rhininemus cimbrius (Linnaeus, 1758)  Four-bearded rockling

Ciliata septentrionalis (Collett, 1875) Northern rockling

Ciliata mustela (Linnaeus, 1758) Five-bearded rockling

Lamprididae

Lampris guttatus (Brunnich, 1788) Opah

Regalecidae Oar-fish

Regalecus glesne Ascanius, 1772 Banks oar-fish, Ribbon fish

Trachipteridae Ribbonfish

Trachipterus arcticus (Brunnich, 1771)  Arctic deal-fish

Zeidae

Zeus faber Linnaeus, 1758 John Dory

Caproidae

Capros aper (Linnaeus, 1758) Boar fish

Moronidae

Dicentrarchus labrax (Linnaeus,1758)  Bass

Serranidae

Polyprion americanus (Schneider, 1801)Wreck-fish

Serranus cabrilla (Linnaeus, 1785) Comber

Cepolidae

Cepola rubescens Linnaeus, 1766 Red band fish

Carangidae

Naucrates ductor (Linnaeus, 1758)

Trachurus trachurus (Linnaeus, 1758)  Scad

Bramidae

Brama brama (Bonnaterre, 1788) Rays Bream, Atlantic pomfret

Scienidae

Argyrosomus regius (Asso, 1801) Meagre

Mullidae

Mullus surmuletus Linnaeus, 1758 Red Mullet

Sparidae

Boops boops (Linnaeus, 1758) Bogue

Pagellus acarne (Risso, 1826) Spanish bream

Pagellus bogaraveo Delaroche, 1809 Red sea bream

Sparus aurata Linnaeus, 1758  Gilthead sea-bream

Sparus pagrus (Linnaeus, 1758) Couch’s sea-bream

Spondyliosoma cantharus (Linnaeus, 1758) Black sea-bream

Labridae Wrasses

Symphodus (Crenilabrus) melops (Linnaeus, 1758)   Corkwing

Ctenolabrus rupestris (Linnaeus, 1758) Goldsinny

Labrus bimaculatus Linnaeus, 1758 Cuckoo wrasse

Labrus bergylta Ascanius,1767 Ballan wrasse

Centrolabrus exoletus (Linnaeus, 1758) Rock cook

Ammodytidae Sandeels

Gymnammodytes semisquamatus (Jourdain,1879) Smooth sandeel

Ammodytes tobianus Linnaeus, 1758 Sandeel

Ammodytes marinus Raitt, 1934 Raitt’s sandeel

Hyperoplus lanceolatus Le Sauvage, 1824 Greater sandeel

Hyperoplus immaculatus (Corbin,1950) Corbin’s sandeel

Trachinidae Weever fish

Echiichthys vipera (Cuvier, 1829) Lesser weever

Trachinus draco Linnaeus, 1758 Greater weever

Scombidae Tunnies and mackerels

Auxis rochei (Risso, 1810) Frigate Mackerel

Scombrus scombrus Linnaeus1758 Mackerel

Sarda sarda (Bloch, 1793) Pelamid, Bonito

Thunnus thynnus (Linnaeus, 1758) Tunny, Blue-fin tuna

Xiphidae

Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758 Swordfish

Gobiidae

Lebatus scorpioides (Collett, 1874)  (Malm,1874) Diminutive Goby

Crystallogobius linearis (von Duben, 1845) Crystal Goby

Aphia minuta (Risso,1810) Transparent Goby

Lesuerigobius friesii (Malm,1874)Frie’s Goby

Buenia jeffreysii (Gunther, 1867) Jeffrey’s goby

Gobiusculus flavescens (Fabricius, 1779) Two spot goby

Pomatoschistus pictus (Malm, 1865)Painted goby

Pomatoschistus microps (Kroyer, 1838) Common Goby

Pomatoschistus minutus (Pallas, 1770) Sand Goby

Pomatoschistus norvegicus (Collett,1903) Norway Goby

Thorogobius ephippiatus (Lowe,1839) Leopard-spotted Goby

Gobius niger Linnaeus, 1758 Black goby

Callionymidae

Callionymus reticulatus Valenciennes, 1837 Reticulated dragonet

Callionymus maculatus Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1810 Spotted dragonet

Callionymus lyra Linnaeus,1758 Common dragonet

Blennidae

Lipophrys pholis (Linnaeus, 1758)Common blenny

Parablennius gattorugine (Brunnich, 1768)Tompot blenny

Anarhichidae

Anarhichas lupus Linnaeus, 1758 Wolf-fish

Anarhichas denticulatus Kroyer,1845 Jelly cat

Sticheidae

Chirolophis ascanii (Walbaum,1792) Yarrell’s blenny, Atlantic warbonnet

Pholidae

Pholis gunnellus (Linnaeus, 1758) Butterfish

Lumpenidae

Lumpenus lampretaeformis (Walbaum, 1792)Snake blenny

Zoarcidae

Zoarces viviparous (Linnaeus,1758) Viviparus blenny

Carapidae

Echiodon drummondi (Cuvier,1829) Pearl-fish

Centrolophidae

Centrolophus niger (Gmelin,1788) Blackfish

Schedophilus medusophagus Cocco, 1839 Cornish blackfish

Hyperoglyphe perciformis (Mitchill, 1818) Barrel-fish

Mugilidae

Chelon labrosus (Risso,1826) Grey mullet
Liza ramada (Risso, 1826) Thin-lipped grey mullet

Liza aurata (Risso, 1810) Golden grey mullet

Atherinidae
Atherina presbyter Cuvier, 1829

Scorpaenidae

Helicolenus dactylopterus dactylopterus (Delaroche, 1809) Blue mouth,

Sebastes viviparous Kroyer, 1845 Norway haddock

Sebastes marinus (Linnaeus,1758) Redfish

Triglidae

Eutrigla gurnardus (Linnaeus,1758) Grey gurnard

Trigloporus lastoviza (Brunnich, 1768) Streaked gurnard

Aspitrigla cuculus (Linnaeus, 1758)Red gurnard

Trigla lucerna Linnaeus,1758 Tub or Saphirine Gurnard

Cottidae
Triglops murrayi Gunther, 1888

Myoxocephalus scopius (Linnaeus, 1758) Bull-rout

Taurulus bubalis (Euphrasen,1786) Sea-scorpion

Micrenophrys lilljeborgi (Collett, 1875) Norway Bullhead

Agonidae

Agonus cataphractus Pogge, (Linnaeus, 1758) Armoured bullhead, Hooknose

Cyclopteridae

Cyclopterus lumpus Linnaeus, 1758 Lumpsucker

Liparidae

Liparis liparis (Linnaeus,1766) Sea snail

Liparis montagui (Donovan, 1804) Montagu’s sea snail, shore sea snail

Scophthalmidae Left-eyed flatfish

Psetta maxima (Linnaeus, 1758) Turbot

Scophthalmus rhombus (Linnaeus,1758) Brill

Zeugopterus punctatus (Bloch, 1787) Common Topknot

Phrynorhombus norvegicus (Gunther,1862) Norwegian Topknot

Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis (Walbaum,1792) Megrim

Bothidae

Arnoglossus laterna (Walbaum,1792) Scaldfish

Pleuronectidae Right-eyed flatfishes

Limanda limanda (Linnaeus, 1758) Dab

Platichthys flesus (Linnaeus, 1758) Flounder

Pleuronectes platessa Linnaeus,1758 Plaice

Microstomus kitt (Walbaum,1792) Lemon sole

Glyptocephalus cynoglossus (Linnaeus,1758) Witch, Pole Dab

Hypoglossoides platessoides (Fabricius,1780) Long Rough Dab

Hippoglossus hippoglossus (Linnaeus, 1758) Halibut

Soleidae

Solea solea Quensel, 1806 Common Sole

Buglossidium luteum (Risso,1810) Solenette

Microchiurus  variegates (Donovan,1808) Thickback Sole

Molidae

Mola mola (Linnaeus, 1758) Sunfish

Ranzania laevis (Pennant, 1776) Slender Sunfish

Gobiesocidae

Diplecogaster bimaculata bimaculata (Bonnaterre, 1788) Two-spotted clingfish

Lophidae

Lophius piscatorius Linnaeus, 1758 Angler fish, locally Monk

Lophius budegassa Spinola, 1807 Black-bellied Angler