Scuba-divers Dr Matt Doggett and Martin and Sheilah Openshaw have received the annual Duke of Edinburgh Sub-Aqua Prize for best underwater scientific or archaeological project, in recognition of their filming of shy black bream off Dorset last spring.
Video footage obtained by the divers revealed previously unseen behaviour as the male bream primed their nests tirelessly to attract females, and guarded unhatched eggs from predators 24 hours a day.
Each year tens of thousands of black bream arrive off Dorset to breed – attracting many fishing-boats in the process. According to marine biologist Doggett, who led the Black Bream Project, a single male can move up to 70kg of sand and gravel down to bedrock to form a large protective crater around its nest.
Divers have rarely succeeded in observing the bream, which tend to move away while they are present, but in this case succeeded, by installing video cameras in nesting areas between Kimmeridge and Poole Bay.
Doggett and the Openshaws went to Buckingham Palace recently to receive their award from Prince Philip. Their findings are claimed to be influencing sea-anglers into returning return male fish to the water during nesting season.
Divernet – The Biggest Online Resource for Scuba Divers