A couple of weeks ago, Andy dashed to Dorset after our friends, Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher, sighted the first sea horse of the year at Studland Bay.
Andy and Steve found and filmed a pregnant male sea horse and his mate. This is great news and confirms that despite the continuing anchor and mooring disturbances, sea horses are continuing to breed at Studland Bay.
There was an added bonus. Steve and Julie have found spent Undulate Ray egg cases on the strand line in the past. The Undulate Ray (Raja undulata), a member of the shark family, is on the IUCN red list of endangered species. However, without official recorded sightings of adults or juveniles in the bay, the egg cases haven’t been enough to prove that the site is a nursery and breeding area. On two consecutive days, Andy and Steve found different juvenile undulate rays and filmed them. When you see how camouflaged they can be it’s not surprising these animals are rarely seen and have never been filmed at Studland.
This new footage proves beyond doubt that the eel grass at Studland is a nursery for growing Rays as well as a breeding site for both UK species of our iconic sea horses. Lets hope this new information helps tip the balance in favour of marine protection for Studland Bay.
With thanks to Steve Trewhella and Julie Hatcher for all their help in capturing this rare footage.
Images by Andy, words by Jackie