Common name: Lumpsucker Latin name: Cyclopterus lumpus
Lumpsuckers surprisingly live in the open sea over deep water, a pelagic life style for most of their lives but seasonally from February to May migrate to shallow coastal waters to spawn. Lumpsuckers can grow quite large up to 55 to 60 cm and weigh as much a 5.5 kg. Male lumpsuckers are smaller than the female and lumpsuckers have no scales, slate grey in colour but at breeding time the males change to blue on top and a deep red or orange on their belly. The male lumpsucker arrives first to set up territory and build a nest and have a very strong homing instinct and come back to the same place to build a nest each year. They like to make their nest on the rocks amongst the kelp beds. A week or two later the female arrives to lay her eggs in the nest prepared by the male. Females can lay up to 300 000 eggs but often in clumps of 100 000 where they form a solid mass that sticks to the rock where the male fertilises the eggs. Once the female has laid all her eggs she returns back to her pelagic lifestyle leaving the male to brood the eggs.
The male using a sucker on his underside sticks to the rock guarding the eggs with his live and is very aggressive. Occasionally the eggs are laid to shallow and when the tide goes out the eggs are exposed to the air along with male guarding the eggs. The males instinct to protect the eggs is so strong he will carry on guarding the eggs even if it means being out of the water. The male stays six to ten weeks until the eggs hatch defending them from starfish, crabs and other fish that want to eat the eggs. Eggs hatch into small fish, tadpole shape 6-7mm in length some are dispersed into the water column and live in the plankton. Others attach to drifting seaweed using the ventral sucker or to seaweed such as kelp. The egg guarding behave of the males is what makes it such an easy prey for an otter and this is known as disadvantage parental behaviour, the male is nearly always the one that gets eaten. In the spring time you often see otter’s making their way back to the shore with a large bright orange lump in their mouth; you know it’s coming ashore with a lumpsucker to eat.