Havnål - Entelurus
sp, dropped by gulls, Skogsøy, 17 April 2006
the last couple of years the Pipefish population seems to have
exploded, I seem to see them everywhere and they would appear to form a
significant part of the diet for many fish eating birds
Kristiansund in the north to Tananger in the south and even
the Sleipner and Kristin fields (latter is 65 degrees north).
In the past I would
occasionally see pipefish being
from the surface
by feeding gulls, nowadays this seems to be a daily
occurence. There are reports of pipefish being used as nesting material
by seabirds - something that must indicate their poor nutritional value
and they certainly seem to be hard to swallow, requiring a lot of head
shaking and struggling before they finally go down.
Pipefish dropped by a passing gull,
Hernar, SW Norway, April 2015
This phenomenon does not seem to be restricted to SW Norway; during a
trip back home to Northumberland in the summer of 2006 there were huge
numbers of pipefish along the shores and in the rock pools - something
I rarely experienced as a child in the same area.
Even the fish I catch have stomachs full of pipefish. Something must be
happening to the ecosystem to cause this massive increase in pipefish
numbers - and from what I can find out it seems that this is due to
global warming. Warmer waters in the North Atlantic have led to a vast
increase in the numbers of pipefish. A link to some more about this can
be found here
Reports I have read have indicated that terns and small gulls
experience problems feeding on these fish - especially when they then
give these to nestlings. However, pipefish can grow to quite a size and
even large gulls can have difficulties
with them. Often gulls are seen
flying around with the tail of a partially swallowed pipefish
at least 15 minutes after capture.
Herring Gull with partially swallowed pipefish, Skogsøy, SW
I have seen all manner of seabirds eating pipefish - including Great
Northern Diver and Iceland Gull.
Below are a few record shots of various species of birds having
difficulty swallowing these strange fish.
digibinning, bird photography, DSLR
Kittiwake catching pipefish, near Kristin platform (65 degrees
latitude), April 2007
Red-breasted Merganser / Siland, Alvheim, January 2007
Black-legged Kittiwake / Krykkje, Sleipner, February 2007
The tail of a pipefish can be seen protruding from the bird's beak.
Eurasian Shag / Toppskarv, Tananger, 31 January 2007
Canon EOS400D with a Sigma 70-300mm telephoto lens