60. The Pogge (Agonus Cataphractus) Wildlife of the Solway
#60 The Pogge (Agonus Cataphractus) Wildlife of the Solway Firth
The Pogge or Hooknose is a very distinctive and easy to recognise small fish normally growing up to 10cm long but occasionally reaching 15 cm or more. Overall colour is grey/brown with dark patches. It is not uncommon and is listed as a species of least concern by IUCN ( International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Pogges frequent the inshore shallows of British coasts but retreat into deeper waters down to 250m during Winter months. It has a very characteristic upturned snout with an underside completely covered with a beard-like array of barbels. These assist in sensing food such as worms and small invertebrates in the muddy gravelly seabed.
It’s body is completely covered with bony plates ( it is alternatively named The Armoured Bullhead) which certainly give it some protection from predation but as a downside limit body flexibility. These fish are mature and breed in their second year, the female laying between 2-3,000 yellowish eggs in a clump at the base ( holdfasts) of kelp seaweed in early Spring.
Hatching takes place almost a year later, just in time for the larval fish to take advantage of the early plankton bloom in surface waters where currents will also disperse the young far and wide to new habitats. We do occasionally have this fish on display at The lake District Coast Aquarium, Maryport, where it’s quirky features and habit of staying perfectly still for long periods make it a favourite for photographers.
To find out more about the remarkable work that the Lake District Coast Aquarium do click here or for an even better experience, visit them in person at on the Maryport Harbourside, South Quay, Maryport, CA15 8AB Longitude/Latitude 54.715112, -3.502742