Black Sea Bream Nest
The Black Sea Bream (spondyliosoma cantharus) is a fairly common fish off Sussex coast particularly in the months of April and May when they come into lay their eggs. Sea bream are unusual in that they lay their eggs in a nest. The bream nest is a depression in the sand which the male excavates. The eggs are sticky and remain in the bottom of the bream nest. The male guards the nest until the young hatch.
Several trips to Kingmere Rocks have been made to photograph the bream nest with a fish in it. These have been unsuccessful. Bream are very rarely seen by divers. Kingmere Rocks have recently been designated one of the Marine Conservation Zones as it is a bream nest site. However, controls have not yet been put in place to protect the species during the breeding season. Consequently the fish in the nests are targeted and large numbers are being taken by anglers and commercial fisherman, who, with the technology available today, are able to target the breeding grounds successfully.
As a commercial skipper I cannot dive unless I have another skipper on-board. I have just taken the opportunity to dive a small area near to Brighton where Bream are often caught in significant numbers and was very likely to be a bream nest site.
The site consists of many hollowed out areas which I assume to be made by the bream. The depressions are very localised. Drifting off just 50m and they all disappear. There are no silt in the depressions, so they are recent and probably well tended. Unfortunately I did not see any bream or eggs in the nests.
Some of these depressions are up to 2m across and have been cleaned out completely right down to the rock below. The picture below shows how free the nest is of silt. Even fossils can be seen in the rock below.
The stone and sand from in the bream best area has been banked up around the area to quite a significant depth of almost 300mm.
Other Marine Life
The area is a low energy site. I saw 1 Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) and a few cuckoo wrass (Labrus Mixtus). Along with a few gobies e.g. Common goby (pomatoschistus microps) and a larger variety I did not recognise. A few swimming crabs (Liocarcinus Puber) were present and a few shells of edible crabs. The Common starfish (Asterias Rubens), but very few molluscs. I saw two Dead men’s fingers (Alcyonium digitatum) and a few orange sponges.