A colony of lesser pipefish found thriving in water off Blackpool’s coast shows water in the area is clean and thriving, say experts.
The discovery of the fish, around the legs of Central Pier, was made during a beach clean - a monthly effort to improve the quality of the environment in and around Blackpool’s sea.
The Nilsson’s pipefish, part of the Sea Horse family, are the first of their kind to be spotted in the area.
Sea Life Blackpool curator Scott Blacker said: “Discovering any type of marine life thriving in our coastal waters is good news as it means the water is of a good enough quality to support life.”
Efforts have been stepped up to improve all Blackpool’s beaches in order to prevent any signs being put up warning people not to swim in the sea in the future.
Mr Blacker added: “To find pipefish in such abundance is really amazing news as they are very susceptible to changes in water quality and habitat destruction but these fish are doing remarkably well.”
Pipefish are more commonly found in areas with a wide variety of kelp, sea grasses and seaweeds so to find them around the iron legs of a pier is very rare, the curator has said.
Neil Garrick-Maidment, from The Seahorse Trust, said: “Finding the Nilsson’s Pipefish at Blackpool is fantastic news and shows how clean the waters are in the area.
“To have such a large colony is good news and shows the seas are thriving.”
And the news has been welcomed by community leaders who have been working to improve water quality.
Coun Maxine Callow, who chaired a scrutiny committee on Blackpool Council into the quality of the sea water, said: “I’m delighted about this, it’s quite fascinating.
“It just shows we are going in the right direction, the fact they were doing a beach clean as well just goes to show we are serious about cleaning up the bathing waters.”
Now a group of the pipefish are on display in Sea Life Centre, which is based on the Promenade.
Mr Blacker added: “We managed to rescue a group of seven baby lesser pipefish from a rapidly emptying rockpool where they had been caught as the tide went out.
“To ensure we gave them the best chance of survival we have put them on display, to give visitors the chance to see them and they give us a great talking point to educate our visitors about water quality and native marine life.”