It's Club Tropicana on the North Wales Coast; Mediterranean Visitors Swarming to the Region

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Byline: Hugo Duncan

WATERS around North Wales are attracting visitors from some of Europe's most popular holiday destinations.

But these are not your normal tourists. They are tropical fish more usually found in the Mediterranean or on coral reefs.

This year marine scientists have reported increased numbers of red mullet in Conwy Bay and trigger-fish in the Menai Straits as the waters around the North Wales coast become warmer.

There have also been large numbers of jellyfish-like creatures found on the shores around the Llyn peninsula. The Vellella, or by-the-wind-sailor, are more usually found much further south.

The jellyfish has numerous blue tentacles but its stings are harmless. Experts believe they have been swept northwards by the Gulf Stream.

Other strange species have been discovered around North Wales, including mantis shrimps, a giant leatherback turtle and the feared Portuguese Man o' War jellyfish.

There is evidence to suggest Balistes capriscus, or the Grey Trigger-fish, is now breeding in the Straits.

Dr Michael Kaiser, from the School of Ocean Sciences at the University of Wales, Bangor, said: ``The trigger-fish have been coming into the Menai Straits for about eight years now and there is an established colony near Anglesey Sea Zoo.

``Originally, adult trigger-fish were being caught but now fishermen are catching small ones as well which means they are breeding here,'' said Dr Kaiser. It has long been thought triggers could not breed so far north because they die off when the water temperature falls below about 12C.

Clare White, of Anglesey Sea Zoo, explained the triggers are seasonal visitors. ``It is a regular summer visitor coming in on warm currents from the south,'' she said.

``Usually, they are found in the Mediterranean but for about six to eight weeks across the summer, fishermen call saying they have found them in their pots and so on.

``It has been happening for years. We sometimes put them on display; they cannot survive the winter so they head back to their natural habitats.''

The pancake bodies of Balistes capriscus, which can reach 50cm in length, vary in colour from brown to grey to blue-grey. They get the name trigger-fish from their sharp dorsal fin which they lock in an upright position as a sign of aggression. …