Rockpool Ramble

30 August 2007

Out at sea, yachts were heeIing in a brisk wind. Onshore, all eyes were directed downwards as Ruth Williams explained the mysteries and delights of the Rosemullion rockpools to 9 persons (and a dog). It must he admitted, since it was our dog, that the latter was more interested in splashing than learning: and his curiosity to discover why we were staring quietly and intently into the water was of no help in persuading timid creatures to emerge from their hiding places. That apart, it was an absorbing afternoon for all concerned, from grandparents to grandchildren, under ideal weather conditions, breezy but dry and warm. In the pools. snail-like creatures rocked gently to and fro as the grazed on the rock surface. Occasionally one would rise and scuttle off at speed – a hermit crab inside the shell! Ruth told us the difference between winkles and top shells: and between shrimps and prawns: and about the foraging habits of Iimpets which always return to the same place on the rock surface where they have created a depression matching the shell so that the can cling tightly and avoid dehydration when the tide is out. Mike, one of the party, had brought a magnifying jar which allowed us to see things in great detail. Particularly fascinating was the small cushion star which. when placed upside-down arched itself, extended minute tube feet to secure a grip and then rolled itself over. With Ruth’s expertise of knowing where to look and how to catch things were soon examining a sea urchin, and a pipe fish and a Cornish sucker fish, not forgetting the delightful little broad-clawed porcelain crab. The list didn’t stop there, because there was an array of seaweeds, from delicate fronds to robust fleshy types, in a great range of colours green – orange, red, brown and white. We even had a tasting session, sampling the bright green crinkly sea lettuce. One can spend hours just looking and marvelling at the variety of Iife in a rock pool and, had the tide not come in, we might still be there. Sincere thanks are due to Ruth for giving so freely of her time, enthusiasm and clear expert explanations.

© Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area