February 7th, 2011

Great to get out on a mid-winter rockpool ramble with the Blue Sound team and Mount Wise Primary School at Devil’s Point Beach. Not quite the same as Wembury, but lots to find, especially if you don’t mind small brown things! James and I helped Bex find some creatures before the ramble got going – some crabs, a rock goby, dog whelks and a pair of worm pipefish, the male being very pregnant. When the first half of the group arrived we had a look at what the sea had cast up among the seaweed, (why are people happy to pick flowers and run their hands through grass but go “Yuck” at touching seaweed?), and created some wonderful beach sculptures. When everyone arrived we split into 4 groups of 4 and went rambling. Photos are up on Flickr which you can see from the Blue Sound web pageWhat did we find? An unfortunate limpet that had been attacked by two dog whelks, (“It’s not fair!”), shore, edible, furrowed, porcelain (long and broad clawed) crabs, more fish (James’ team found two rocklings), a couple of small brittle starfish (which didn’t pass for “cool”), green leaf worms, spiral worm, keel worm and possible a scale worm as well as sponges, seaweeds and topshells. It was something of a surprise to find the tide was coming in, I’d no idea we’d been down there so long – it’s amazing how quickly the time passes when you’re having fun. Not being cold helps – thanks to Antarctic undies. John Hepburn

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Marina marine life

November 2nd, 2010

A marina ramble (or was it a pontoon safari?) was organised by John Hepburn with permission from the Managing Director of Plymouth’s Mayflower Marina, Charles Bush on Saturday 23 October.

There was a good turnout and lots of interest in the non-native species that arrive and thrive on boat hulls, chains and pontoons. Luckily, the MBA’s John Bishop was there to talk about why marinas are so important for non-native species and point out some of the sea squirts, molluscs, sponges and seaweed that cover all available surfaces.

A different perspective on Mayflower Marina. Photo: Keith Hiscock

Mussels and anemones (the orange ones are Diadumene cincta) on a floating pontoon. Photo: Keith Hiscock

There was an opportunity to snorkel amongst the pontoons too. Those in the water were rewarded with lots to see despite the water being a bit murky, due to spring low tide and a lot of rain.

The pontoons and boat hulls are unique habitats in that the plants and animals that grow on them aren’t subject to tidal movement (floating surface). The pictures how much life there is, taking advantage of the prime underwater real estate.

A plastic settlement panel after 8 weeks in a Plymouth marina. Photo: John Bishop

Predators that can’t swim aren’t able to get up onto floating structures so some of the filter feeding animals (e.g. the pretty oaten pipes hydroid) which would usually have been munched by sea slugs in the summer are still there in mid autumn!

Some of the large seaweeds such as the non-native Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) also seem to be surviving the winter on pontoons, whereas on the rocky shore the familiar large-frond stage has given way by the end of the summer to the microscopic phase.

 For more information about marine invasive non-native (alien) species see the website of the Marine Aliens project.

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Devil’s tongue weed

September 1st, 2010

The evocatively named devil’s tongue weed Grateloupia turuturu has been spotted in rockpools at Wembury beach in Devon. This non-native species hails from the Pacific Ocean and appears in the new Identification guide for selected marine non-native species.

Devil's tongue weed Grateloupia turuturu

Photo: Ignacio Barbara

Copies of the guide are available from MarLIN. Please see http://www.marlin.ac.uk/idguides.php

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Beachcombing with the BBC

August 5th, 2010

Although we have had lots of rain this summer we have not had the high winds that drive unusual oceanic creatures onto the beaches of the western British Isles. I was therefore a little apprehensive about taking Emma Brennand of the BBC Springwatch team beachcombing. Thankfully Perranporth delivered a nice variety of interesting finds, the highlights including a couple of buoy barnacles (Dosima fascicularis) and three stranded compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella).  You can read Emma’s full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/natureuk/2010/08/all-washed-up.shtml

Compass jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella)

Photo: Becky Seeley

Buoy barnacle Dosima fascicularis

Photo: Becky Seeley

Like these photos? Find out more about this photographer here.

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