Eight individuals of Mullus surmuletus (Teleostei: Mullidae) ≤80 mm total length were captured in shallow water in the Firth of Lorn, western Scotland in August and September 1995. The species is rare on the west coast of Scotland and the occurrence of juveniles is a new record for the area.
The red mullet (Mullus surmuletus L.) is a species whose distribution is centred on the Mediterranean where it forms the basis of a commercial fishery (e.g. Renoñes et al., 1995). Outside the Mediterranean it is found on eastern Atlantic coasts from the Canaries northwards to the English Channel and the southern North Sea where it is ‘moderately common’ (Wheeler, 1969). Further north it is regarded as rare (Wheeler, 1969; Hureau, 1986) and the northern limit is variously given as Scotland (Lythgoe & Lythgoe, 1992) or southern Norway (Wheeler, 1978). Most northern records are from the North Sea (Rae & Wilson, 1954; Rae & Lamont, 1964), presumably reflecting the intensive fishing effort in this area. Records to the west of the British Isles are few and have been summarized by Gordon (1981) and subsequently by Henderson (1986, personal communication), including one from the Faeroes (Blacker, 1977). All recorded occurrences in western Scotland are of adult fish (26–31 cm) caught by commercial fishing vessels and juveniles have never been reported from this area. This note documents (Table 1) the capture of small individuals (N=8) in shallow water off the west coast of Scotland in an area where they had never been recorded previously, despite intensive studies of the local fish fauna since 1970 (R.N.G., personal observation; Gibson, 1973; Gibson et al., 1993). The eight fish were caught on Tralee beach, Ardmucknish Bay, Firth of Lorn, Argyll (56°31′N 5°29′W). The sea bed in this area consists of fine sand (Gibson et al., 1993). It is possible that their occurrence is linked with the unusually warm summer of 1995 allowing juveniles to penetrate further north than usual. Water temperatures at 2–5 m on 29 August, 1995 were 14.3°C compared with a maximum of 13.6°C recorded over the period 1986–1989 (Gibson et al., 1993).