Aquarium lands rare 'ribbon fish'
Published 29/08/2010 | 11:38
A rare fish shaped like a ribbon has been handed in to an aquarium after being accidentally hauled up in a fisherman's nets, staff said.
The red-band eel fish has been donated to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, Hampshire, after being found off the south coast.
But the fish, which grows to lengths of up to 32 inches, can be found as far south as the Mediterranean and off Senegal on the west African coast.
Blue Reef's Lindsay Holloway said: "They're extraordinary-looking fish that definitely seem to be more at home in the Mediterranean than around our shores.
"No one is sure how many there are living in the Channel as they are normally very shy and reclusive fish who spend the majority of their lives inside their burrows.
"One reason that this individual was caught may be as a result of the recent stormy weather, which can result in their burrows being destroyed.
"As a result, dead specimens are sometimes washed up on to the strandline after rough seas."
As its name suggests, the fish is generally red in colour, with an orange or yellow underside, large, silvery eyes and a wide mouth filled with tiny, razor-sharp teeth.
Like tropical garden eels, the red bandfish are thought to spend most of the day hidden within their burrows in the seabed 1,300ft deep, emerging to feed at night.
They are known to live in extremely large colonies. In the 1970s it was estimated up to 14,000 lived together off the east coast of Lundy Island in south west England.