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Fish #178 Ballan Wrasse Labrus bergylta ~ Alison Jackson
Wet and dry felted and embroidered.
Ballan Wrasse are common off all British and Irish coasts. They are found in inshore waters amongst weed covered rocks, or in lower shore pools, They are also found in the algal zone on rocky coasts at between 5 and 30 metres depth.
Ballan Wrasse are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they all start off as female. They are slow growing, only reaching 6 inches by the age of 2. They reach maturity at 6-8 years when they may be 2 feet in length. They are then mature enough to breed. They will breed as females for many years and after this time some females will change sex and function as males, fertilising the eggs of the females. They will then grow to a larger size than the females.
Females make nests of seaweed and mucus wedged between rocks. It is here they lay their eggs which hatch in a few weeks. The emerging larval wrasse float away with the plankton to settle in shallow water.
Ballan Wrasse have a deep set compressed body and a large head with thick, protruding lips. Teeth tend to be rounded with age. Their long dorsal fin has an array of spines along the first half, followed by a much softer section towards the tail. As well as sharp teeth in the mouth, they have teeth in their throats too. These two sets of teeth enable them to prise molluscs and crustaceans from rocks and crush them. They feed predominately on crabs, mussels, shrimps and worms.
Colouration varies greatly. They can be brownish red or red with numerous small white spots. They can be green with white spots or large irregular dark vertical stripes. Young are often bright emerald green.
Commercial value is increasing and Ballan Wrasse are now being sold to Japanese restaurants, where they are processed as sashimi. There is also a fishery for live Ballan Wrasse, which are used as cleaner fish in salmon farms.
The Ballan Wrasse of rainbow hue,
Red, brown, green, yellow, orange and blue,
Stripey and spotty, pale underneath,
Mick Jagger lips and Ken Dodd teeth.
Munching on molluscs, crunching on crabs,
Mussels and barnacles, all up for grabs.
Two sets of gnashers are better than one,
If the first doesn't get 'em, the second one can.
Mama Wrasse lays her eggs in rocks lined with weed,
Papa Wrasse passes by, releases his seed.
There's no doubting what each egg will become,
Always a daughter, never a son.
Several years later, no need for an op.
Trans sexuality in fish is no prob.
For some girlies a new life as boys now begins,
They puff out their chests and waggle their fins.
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