Explore the Shore

Sunday, 23rd August 2009

“Dare you to put your finger in this bucket!”. Then came a yelp, and a rapid withdrawal of the hand. The Velvet Swimming Crab had instantly reared up, arms wide, claws open, its bright red eyes glistening. Only later, when it had subsided, did we see the flattened back legs, with hair-like fringes, that enable it to swim. There were crabs in abundance, small Broad-Clawed Porcelain Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Edible Crabs, nicknamed ‘pasty crab’ because of the crimped edge to the shell; and another nicknamed ‘bodybuilder crab’ because of its tenacious grip and a shell looking like a rippled torso. The rock pools at Prisk Cove were proving to be a productive hunting ground for the 38 people in attendance, half of them children, and Ruth Williams, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Officer, was kept busy identifying the finds.

With a very low tide, the full spread of the shore was available, from the barnacle- and limpet-encrusted rocks in the upper parts to the slippery mats of spaghetti-like Thongweed, Kelp and invasive Japweed at the water’s edge. Squat Lobster, Prawns and Shore Urchin were added to the collection, plus numerous Brittlestars of all sizes and an occasional Cushion Star. As the rocks were turned over, small fish darted out, too fast to be netted, but the slower-moving Cornish Clingfish was easier to catch. The tally for the day included a Snakelocks Anemone, which preferred to stay where it was, not moved to a bucket, and the egg case of a Dogfish. The weather had been just right – breezy, overcast, but rain-free, but there were numerous wet feet to be dried out at the end. The HMCG is indebted to Ruth for yet another rewarding and enjoyable afternoon.

© Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area