Helford Marine Conservation Group (HMCG) AGM

At the group’s AGM on Saturday 11 March, after 12 years as Chair, Dave Thompson announced he was stepping down. Dave’s huge contribution over the years was acknowledged by the meeting and the search started for a new Chair.

Dr Pamela Tompsett, a founding member of the HMCG, was recognised for her valuable contribution to the conservation of the Helford over 36 years. Pamela said: “I little thought when I started shore work in 1986 and then took over organisation of the new group from our marine guru Stella, that I would be involved so many years later. Pressures on the environment were not uppermost in people’s minds in the 1980s and public awareness and education were vital. It’s so encouraging to see that the Helford MCG is still going strong after so many years – long may it continue!”

Guest speaker Matt Slater, Marine Conservation Officer at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, showed the group members the amazing marine life of the Fal and Helford rivers and the changes that have occurred over the last decade. The members were also treated to a Gear Farm pasty. 


Shoresearch is a citizen science project run by Cornwall Wildlife Trust that aims to improve our understanding of marine life within and around Cornwall’s Marine Protected Areas. Volunteers are provided training on shore identification and are encouraged to take part in organised events and to run their own surveys.

See what we found in rook-pooling on Helford Passage beach at Christmas:

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Helford River Rockpooling

A hint of warm weather and we flock to the beach and where nicer than the little beaches around the Helford where the dog can come too and there is a wealth of fascinating wildlife to see in our rockpools. 

Spiny starfish. Image: Ruth Williams.
Spiny starfish. Image: Ruth Williams.
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Helford Display Board for Your House or Garden?

You can have your own display board for a small donation, contact coordinator for details. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seaweed Fun

Sunday 16th March saw a group of us down on the beach at Prisk, with scientific adviser Angie Gall to have our first ‘teach on the beach’ session to improve our identification skills ready for the summer season.  We concentrated on Seaweeds this time, gathering a good selection of species to take back with us to identify and press.  There will be more of these sessions to come so keep an eye on our Practical Volunteers tab under Events for more.

New Board Installed at Durgan!

David Thomson and Charles Richardson have installed one of the New Interpretation Boards at Durgan, immediately creating interest as you can see from the photo.

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HVMCA Information Boards

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area in 2013 we are replacing the old HMVCA boards around the river.  There are currently 11 of these boards at key access points on both sides of the river.  This is the new style of board, designed by Sarah McCartney  at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and incorporates special features of the river-above the water, between the tides and below the water.  We are hoping to fund all the new boards from sponsorship and are most grateful to several local companies who have agreed to do this.  However, we do need more and would invite anyone who is interested in sponsoring one or more boards to contact us for details.  The name of the sponsor would appear on their board.

HVMCA board for web

Kayak Helford River Clean Up a Great Success

Fishing nets, fuel cans, plastic bags, sacking and even a garden fork were all dragged from the Helford River, along with other assorted rubbish, by volunteers from the Helford Marine Conservation Group on Saturday 10th November.

The kayak rubbish pick up was declared a brilliant success by organiser Jes Hirons, despite the showery conditions and cold wind. Using kayaks enabled the 16 volunteers to reach the more inaccessible inlets, pick up the rubbish, which was then taken on aboard by the Orca Sea Safaris rib, which also provided rescue cover.

“This was a very successful day”, said Jes. “Not only were we able to help clean up a very conservationally important area, but we also had a lot of fun in doing so!”

Jes is author of a report detailing the day’s findings, it is hoped that this litter pick is going to be repeated year on year to provide meaningful data on litter on the Helford.

Fabulous Autumn Sighting

Anita and Mike Langshaw were treated to a magnificent sighting of an Osprey whilst kayaking in Frenchman’s Creek on the 1st of October. They saw it fly from a tree being closely followed by crows. It landed again but flew off before Mike could get his camera out for a good shot, although he has managed some of rather poor quality. It had a fish in its talons. It must have been stopping off for a feed on its journey to West Africa. Every year in Spring and Autumn there is a slim chance of seeing one of these birds on their migration route from Scotland to Africa.

On the 19th of October they again were lucky (is it luck or persistence? The more time you spend on the river the more you see!) They saw a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphins (approx 4) Mike says it is a number of years since he has seen them in the estuary. They were opposite Grebe Beach and seemed to be feeding but they were breaching as well.

Please send me any of your sightings from in and around the Helford via our contact page and I will put them up on the blog

Shore search reveals stunning marine wildlife around the Cornish coast!

Volunteers from Cornwall Wildlife Trust were recently treated to some incredible finds during a county-wide survey of life on some of our most important rocky shores. The ‘shore search’ survey was carried out at St Agnes, Polzeath, Looe, Fowey and Helford over four days, which saw some of the lowest spring tides of the year.

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Helford VMCA at the Falmouth Marine School Fresher’s Fair

Helford VMCA’s Elizabeth West was at the Falmouth Marine School’s Fresher’s Fair on Friday 28th September armed with banners, leaflets and lots of enthusiasm! Elizabeth was representing the Helford VMCA and ensuring new students at Cornwall’s ‘College of the Ocean’ were informed about the work of the VMCG, our events program, marine surveys and volunteering opportunities. The fair was a resounding success with lots of new students interested in contributing volunteering hours to the VMCA and several involved in research projects with potentially beneficial outputs for Helford. The fair also offered a chance to network with other local conservation organisations including FALPIP (Falmouth Seal Photo Identification Project), the Marine Conservation Society, Kennack Diving and researchers from the Marine School itself. Hopefully all of this will culminate in some new faces at events over the next few months and some stronger ties between local conservation groups!

Plymouth University ROV surveys the Helford

An underwater survey of the Helford in mid April was made possible thanks to the use of Plymouth University’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and a small team of enthusiastic volunteers. Coordinated by Angie Gall, Richard Ticehurst from Plymouth University brought the ROV down for the day to survey some of the fascinating underwater habitats along the River. Combined with Chris Bean’s generous offer of his boat and role as skipper and Tony Sutton’s extensive knowledge of the underwater world of the Helford, the team of four had a very successful survey.

Excellent footage of eelgrass beds, thornback rays, crabs and lots more was taken although the highlight was recording a live and healthy maerl bed (we are currently awaiting confirmation of the species but are fairly confident that it is Lithothamnion corallioides).

The next step is to get a dive survey team to map the maerl bed and to start building an up to date habitat map of the Helford.

Photos and video clips from the survey will be posted in our gallery shortly!

Our thanks go to Angie, Chris, Richard and Tony for volunteering their time to orchestrate such a successful survey.

© Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area