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Fish #179 Cuckoo Wrasse Labrus mixtus ~ Mark Loosemore
Dugital art 3286 x 1940 pixels
The name cuckoo wrasse comes from the Cornish fishermen who associated the blue markings with bluebell flowers. In the Cornish language, a bluebell is 'bleujenn an gog', literally 'the cuckoo flower'. Cuckoo Wrasse are native to the Eastern Atlantic from Norway to Senegal and are therefore frequently encountered around the British Isles. These fish live in deeper water than some other wrasse, usually from 10 metres down to 30 metres. That is not to say, however, that they do not come into shallower waters. They are commonly found amongst sea fans and branching sponges on rocky shorelines. The males and females are very different in colouring. The males are bright blue with long patches of orange and yellow along the body. Unlike this illustration of a male Cuckoo Wrasse the female is bright orange with black and white stripes above the tail. The male can reach sixteen inches while the females are slightly smaller achieving twelve inches overall. Wrasses are highly territorial fish with a single male courting several females. When the male dies the dominant female changes sex and becomes the next male! As the female changes sex she also changes colour and patterning to that of the male!
Anecdote from the artist:
I grew up in Dorset during the fifties only a few miles from the coastal resort of Weymouth. In those days, before my family owned a car and when rail fares were still affordable, I spent many happy hours fishing from the Stone Pier which juts out into Weymouth Bay. My aim or should I say, hope, was to catch mackerel which would have been taken home for the table. Unfortunately those silver and blue rapiers did not frequent the waters adjoining the pier. The occasional mullet and Sea Bream and a never ending supply of Ballan and Cuckoo Wrasse were the most frequent visitors to the rods of amateur anglers. While I now know that adult Cuckoo Wrasse are a food fish, at the time I did not. Fortunately for the many juvenile specimens on my hook they were always returned to the sea. I meanwhile returned home after another day spent in the seemingly endless sunshine of childhood.
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