Seashore Safari

Thursday, 1st April 2010

The beach in front of the Ferryboat Inn resembled a market day, with a group of colourful tables, a banner and a leaflet stand, all weighted by heavy rocks against the brisk, rather chilly wind. Abby Crosby, with Emma and other volunteers, had brought her displays for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s ‘Your Shore’ Project, teaming up with Ruth Williams’ ‘Seashore Safari’; and so there was no lack of expert knowledge as people crowded round the tables to look in the tanks and trays at live creatures collected from nearby rock pools.

Carpet shells, top shells, various crabs, hermit crab and beadlet anemone were among them. Abby explained the aims of the Your Shore initiative and then Ruth set off to explore the pools and sand flats. Although the group was relatively small, 12 adults and 2 children, because local schools had not yet broken up for Easter, there was a high level of enthusiasm and interest. The low tide had exposed a wide area of sand, which yielded shells of queen scallop, native oyster, Pacific oyster, small turret shells, cockles and Mya, plus several clusters of invasive slipper limpets. Protruding razor shells pulled themselves rapidly below the surface and squirted as one approached. A marooned great scallop was attempting to jerk itself back to the water by opening its shell and then snapping it shut. Strings of Japweed, another invasive species, were plentiful. In one section the surface was coated with a fine white debris which appeared to be the broken down remains of fan worm tubes. A few tubes, still standing, seemed lifeless.

Back at the tables, two children from a holidaying family brought their rock pool catch for identification. It was an impressive collection and included two butterfish, two worm pipefish, velvet swimming crab, spider crab, shore crab, cushion star, baby sea urchin and bristle worm. There is so much to find on the shore (and it helps to have children as ‘hunters’!). Many thanks are due to Ruth, Abby and all the CWT team for yet another enjoyable day.

© Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area