1 Lesser spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus caniculus) 2 Thornback ray (Raja clavata) 3 Conger eel (Conger conger) 4 Angler fish (Lophius piscatorius)
1 Features of a small shark with long, slender body and mouth on underside of head. Distinctive grey-brown colour with numerous dark spots, though belly almost white. Can often be approached closely as it lies sleepily on seabed. Brown egg cases sometimes seen attached to seaweed or similar anchorage with curly tendrils. (Up to 80cm long)br> 2 Huge triangular pectoral fins, shaped like wings, provide unique appearance. Swimming motion resembles that of bird flying. Divers see this species, distinguished by obvious thorn-like spines on back, more often than any of its relatives. (Up to almost 1m)
3 Large, impressive and very elongated, with mainly undeserved reputation for ferocity. During day usually hides in cracks and crevices so only head visible. Wrecks are favourite habitat, even as shallow as 5m. Reproduction involves huge trek out to mid-Atlantic; these fish die soon after spawning. (Up to 2m, occasionally even larger)
4 Unusual creature that may be hard to spot, though it can reach considerable size. Almost always found stationary on seabed, where flattened body, mottled patterning and uneven outline assist in camouflage. This helps it catch prey - along with cunning method described in name! (Up to 2m but much smaller individuals usually seen)
5 Pollack (Pollachius pollachius) 6 Bib (Trisopterus luscus) 7 Poor-cod (Trisopterus minutus) 8 John Dory (Zeus faber)
5 One of commonest fish seen by British divers. Found singly or in shoals over rocky ground and near wrecks. Three dorsal fins mark it as member of cod family. Photo shows typical silver/green adult but juveniles may have more intense colours. Often found hunting shoals of smaller fish and, unlike most fish, appears to be upset by flashguns. (Usually up to 50cm, larger fish sometimes seen)
6 Deep-bodied member of cod family, usually identified by chin barbel and vertical banding on attractive copper-coloured flanks. Adults often found around wrecks, singly or in small groups; juveniles can congregate in larger shoals that may circle divers, apparently looking for food disturbed on seabed by their activities. (Usually 30cm but up to 50cm)
7 Close relative of 6, with similar chin barbel, but more slender and usually smaller body, with no banding. Youngsters of both species often seen in mixed shoals, though shoals of the adult fish alone are also a common sight. Seem to derive confidence from company, because single fish usually seen skulking in rock crevices. (Up to 25cm)
8 Unmistakable fish with such thin body that it almost seems to disappear when turned face-on. Uses this feature to sneak up on prey such as small fish, which are engulfed by telescopic mouth. Elongated rays on dorsal fin, dark spot in middle of each nearly circular flank and sad expression. (Up to 60cm but usually much smaller)
9 Greater pipefish (Syngnathus acus) 10 Snake pipefish (Entelurus aequoreus) 11 Tub gurnard (Trigla lucerna) 12 Sea scorpion (Taurulus bubalis)
9 One of strangest-looking fish in UK waters, looks like (and is in essence) straightened out and elongated seahorse. Body protected by armour of bony plates, male carries fertilised eggs until they hatch into miniature adults. Tube-shaped snout acts like syringe to suck in tiny crustaceans and fish fry. (Up to 50 cm)
10 Similar to 9 in basic form but with smoother body and distinctive colours - pale orange with dark hoops. Adults have no pectoral fins and hardly any tail fin, so overall impression that of snake. Both species tend to hide in seaweed where shape can make difficult to spot. (Up to 60cm)
11 Large bony head with steep forehead. Feelers at front of pectoral fins, with which it sometimes 'walks' across seabed. Brilliant blue edging on pectoral fins. Can swim surprisingly fast and can even leap above surface. (Up to 50cm, occasionally larger)
12 Large head fringed by small spines gives this bottom-living species a fierce appearance. Tail comparatively small, swims in ungainly manner. Colour changes to match bottom on which fish is hiding. Ambushes prey, engulfing unwary crabs and small fish in broad mouth. Despite name not venomous. (Up to 20cm)
13 Pogge (Agonus cataphractus) 14 Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) 15 Red mullet (Mullus surmuletus) 16 Grey mullet (Chelon labrosus)
12 Large head fringed by small spines gives this bottom-living species a fierce appearance. Tail comparatively small, swims in ungainly manner. Colour changes to match bottom on which fish is hiding. Ambushes prey, engulfing unwary crabs and small fish in broad mouth. Despite name not venomous. (Up to 20cm)
14Sleek yet muscular-looking predator, member of sea perch and grouper family. Body brilliant silver with very dark patch close to gills. Rapid swimmer and usually shy, may occasionally approach divers with the sort of attitude that makes them grateful for their superior size. (Up to 80cm)
15Species that can occur in variety of colour schemes, but habit of 'snuffling' on sandy seabed with pair of large chin barbels (feelers) for food makes it unmistakable. Often found in small groups where individual raising front dorsal fin may act as signal for all fish to swim off. Can be difficult to approach unless engrossed in 'snuffling'. (Up to 40cm but usually much smaller)
16Unusual to get more than fleeting glimpse of this grey, torpedo-shaped fish. Often encountered close to shore in a few feet of water while browsing on stony bottom, will swim off extremely rapidly if disturbed. You may have time to notice delicate stripes and two short dorsal fins. Three similar species found in UK waters. (Up to 75cm)
17 Cuckoo wrasse (female) (Labrus bimaculatus) 18 Cuckoo wrasse (male) (Labrus bimaculatus) 19 Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) 20 Corkwing wrasse (Crenilabrus melops)
17Coral-pink wrasse with distinctive row of black and white blotches along rear of back. Species generally found in deeper water than other wrasse and so not often seen when diving from shore. Common but often overlooked because of next fish (18), with which it has strange relationship! (Up to 30cm)
18All members of this species start as females (yes, that was 17) but a few later become males and take on fabulous colouration of bright blue head plus further blue markings interspersed with orange or yellow down flanks. Males often approach divers and stare straight in eye, appearing highly curious but possibly just defending territory. (Up to 35cm)
19Largest of UK wrasse species occurs in numerous colour schemes but has characteristic 'heavily built' body shape and thick lips. Scales large and often dark round edges with paler middle, giving fish spotty appearance. All individuals start as females but a few older fish become male, though with no outward change of appearance. (Up to 50cm)
20Very common wrasse likely to be centre of attention in early summer when males are found building nests from seaweed fragments and defending them vigorously. Distinguishing features include stripes on cheeks, dark spot in shape of comma behind each eye and faint dark blotch in centre of tail stem. (Up to 25cm)
21 Goldsinny (Ctenolabrus rupestris) 22 Rock cook (Centrolabrus exoletus) 23 Tompot blenny (Parablennius gattorugine) 24 Shanny (Lipophrys pholis)
21Unusually for wrasse, this species keeps fairly constant colouration, nature of which is reflected in name. Obvious black spot towards top of tail stem makes it even easier to identify. Will often approach divers closely, swimming to and fro in front of them but darting for cover if they make sudden movements. (Up to 20cm)
22Small, very common member of wrasse family which has intriguing habit of acting as cleaner fish to larger wrasse. Very commonly found in shallow rocky areas; often seen in groups. Distinguishing features include dark band across tail fin and blue lines along side of head. (Up to 15cm)
23Charismatic fish that can be seen peering out of hidey-holes. Large eyes, thick lips and strange head tentacles give it comic yet highly inquisitive appearance. Curiosity may even lead it to emerge to have closer look at diver. Single dorsal fin runs almost whole length of body, which has blotchy patterning and reddish-brown colouration. (Up to 25cm, usually much smaller)
24Usually seen darting around barnacle-covered rocks at beginning or end of shore dive. Patient observer may see it trying to nip feeding arms off unfortunate barnacles. Close relative of 23, looks like its drab cousin. Shares same watchful posture when propped up on pelvic fins. (Up to 15cm)
25 Yarrell 26 Butterfish (Pholis gunnellus) 27 Lesser sand eel (Ammodytes tobianus) 28 Common dragonet (Callionymus lyra)
25May have blenny-like 'head-dress' in evidence but this is not a true blenny because it is partially covered in scales. Long slender body is fawn colour, with dark vertical bands and dark stripes that run from eyes down to corners of mouth. Fairly shy and retiring, seen more often in Scotland than further south. (Up to 20cm)
26Shaped like eel, this small slender fish is another relative of blennies. Row of large, white-edged black spots along back are clearest distinguishing feature; very slippery skin is reflected in name. Tends to wriggle over rocky seabed using snake-like motion. (Up to 25cm)
27Small, slender, silvery fish that divers rarely see in much more detail than in this photograph as they dart and swirl through water, often in large shoals. Predatory fish may be seen lurking nearby. Shoals can bury themselves in sand and emerge to startle unwitting diver who places hand on seabed and disturbs them. (Up to 20cm)
28Very common on sandy seabeds, this slender fish has head that looks almost triangular when seen from above. Females and young males have speckled or blotchy appearance, chiefly in shades of brown, but much rarer adult males have spectacular livery of blue and yellow. (Females up to 20cm, males up to 30cm)
29 Black goby (Gobius niger) 30 Leopard-spotted goby (Thorogobius ephippiatus) 31 Two-spot goby (Gobiusculus flavescens) 32 Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa)
29One of abundant group that is occasionally confused with blennies, but these have two dorsal fins, not one. They also move more gracefully than blennies, which 'wriggle' rather than 'dart' because they lack swim-bladders. Species shown here is one of largest of group, characterised by 'thickset' body and dark blotches at front corner of each dorsal fin. (Up to 18cm)
30Very timid member of same group as 29, usually dashes into rock crevices at slightest provocation. Beautiful spotty patterning and delicate blue edging to fins makes it unmistakable. Thought to be quite rare until diver observations proved it was very common, particularly in rocky areas where silt also present. (Up to 12cm)
31Unlike other members of family, which rest on seabed most of time, these little fish hang in water a few centimetres off bottom. Most common in weedy areas, often in small shoals. Attractive reddish-brown colour with pretty, pale blue markings and dark spots, but behaviour the best distinguishing feature. (Up to 6cm)
32This 'flattened' fish and others like it are compressed from side to side and therefore actually lie on one flank. Adaptation to this lifestyle completed by 'bottom' eye moving round to 'top' side during development, which explains twisted-looking face. Bright orange spots distinguish species from others of this type. (Up to 50cm)
33 Sole (Solea solea) 34 Topknot (Zeugopterus punctatus)
Place the cursor over the photo to identify the fish.
33Distinctive rounded head, and small curved mouth not positioned at end of snout as with most flatfish. Colouration varies from even grey to blotchy brown. Pectoral fin on upper side has black tip thought to mimic dorsal fin of venomous weever fish to deter predators. (Up to 40cm)
34 32,33 and virtually all other flatfish are found on sand or mud but this one lives on rock and is often seen in crevices and caves. Also unusual in that eyes are on left side of body; most other flatfish are 'right-eyed'. Distinctively blotchy patterning provides excellent camouflage, so fish might not be spotted until it moves. (Up to 25 cm)
Tricky, isn't it? How did you get on?
If you scored 34 you're either an eminent marine biologist or you looked up the answers.
20-33 You're definitely a piscine anorak - and none the worse for that.
10-19 You've done pretty well but you could benefit from a session with the old fish guides. Make a bit of an effort this year!
Under 10 You're probably interested only in wrecks or foreign fish anyway. And if you failed to get a single one correct, even the sort of species you might find in a chipshop, look back through your old logbooks and marvel at how you've got away with it for so long!