Thursday, 19 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Looking back over the year we have had  a fantastic time and I am really proud that we have managed to survey so much of our Cornish Coastline. With the announcement last month of the designation of 27 MCZs in the UK we should be proud that the surveying we have carried out provided so much data to support this decision by the government!

This Monday we had a fantastic Marine Quiz night at the Driftwood spars st Agnes which was a chance to thank many of the Shoresearchers for their hard efforts over the year.
This was the second year that Niki Clear and myself have run the quiz and it is getting bigger and better and much sillier every year! If you missed it make sure you come along next year!

lots of highlights on facebook for you to see!

Im really exited about continuing to run the PANACHE Shoresearch programme next year and look forward to seeing you all soon and of course welcoming new volunteers to the programme, please spread the word.

See you in 2014

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

2014 training dates and event dates announced!

Dear Shoresearchers

As you all know 2014 will be the second year of Shoresearch Cornwall and the final year of the PANACHE project. I have been working on a programme of (mainly) FREE training events, surveys and public events that covers as much of Cornwall’s coast as possible yet focuses on areas that will be included in the next tranche of MCZs. Please find attached the full list (Please note that this is a Draft list – any changes will be announced via email – some extra details will be added but at least you have the dates so you can hopefully plan to come along to lots of them!!)

This winter I am holding 2 evening training sessions at Allet (near Truro) at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust headquarters. These training sessions will be on;
·        Wednesday 29th January and
·        Wednesday the 12th February. These sessions will train you how to lead rockpooling and other events for your local Marine Conservation group and will be an introduction to the Shoresearch method of shore surveying, – this will be useful to VMCA marine volunteers, eco-coasteering leaders, and to those who want to get involved in this vital survey method.  Please see attachment for more details on timings etc

  • Sunday 2nd February there will be a whole day of Rockpool training. This is a beginner’s level training day being held at Par in conjunction with Friends of Par beach who we hope will be leading Rockpool rambles on their beach next summer. This will be an introduction to rocky shore marine life with lots of practical advice on how to lead rockpooling events for the public that really engage and inspire people! In the morning I will be giving a presentation and going over methods and important information in the morning for approx one and a half hours and then we will go down on the shore at Spit par beach where there are fantastic tubeworm colonies and a wealth of marine life. Again this is open to new Shoresearch volunteers, members of local marine groups and for anyone who is keen to lead Rockpooling events and eco-coasteering.

  • Saturday February 8th is the Third annual YOUR SHORE Conference – this year being held at The Eden Project. This is a brilliant day of updates from our fantastic marine groups from all around the coasts of Cornwall and Devon. It is a great chance to network and get new ideas for your marine conservation groups. In the afternoon we will have inspiring and engaging talks from Sue Sayer of Cornwall Seal Group and Ian McCarthy a world renowned wildlife cameraman and photographer who has worked for the BBC natural history unit on many fantastic projects, he lives in Fowey and has a real passion for Cornwall’s marine life so he will share his enthusiasm with us all!   The Your Shore project is being funded by Panache and Shoresearch volunteers are welcome to come along and take part.

  • Sunday 2nd March I am leading a full day of Rocky shore training at Newquay College, this will be an intermediate level course aimed at VMCA volunteers, Shoresearchers and eco-coasteering leaders. We will have talks and presentations at Cornwall College lab in the morning, a rockpooling session at South Fistral beach and a follow up lab session and debrief at the college. There will be a small cost for this course TBC.
For those who are keen to get up to Looe and for Looe locals, Heather Buttivant has kindly offered to carry out Shoresearch surveys at her survey/training days this winter – dates are included on the attached list – please contact Heather for more details on where and when to meet etc her email is

Through the summer there will be a total of 9 PANCHE public marine events taking place. At most of these there will be a public Rockpooling event running parallel with a Shoresearch survey being carried out by our volunteers. We will be setting up a Shore Lab and will be trying to really raise the profile of our local marine environment and our Marine Protected areas. See attached list for more detail.

This summer I will also be visiting a number of Fish festivals around the county to promote the work of the CWT marine team and our local marine groups. We will also be raising the profile of our new Cornwall Good Fish Guide project. It would be fantastic to have the support of volunteers to help us man our stalls / engaging activities at these events! (I’m sure the crab cracks a walnut trick will be being used!) 

Also this year we will have four Shoresearch survey days where we go to more inaccessible sites and hold volunteer only surveys which will also double up as further training for our team!

In September we will once again be visiting each of Cornwall's VMCAs in turn carrying out a shore search survey and fully making the most of the equinoxial spring tides which this year are superb!

It should be a fantastic year

Maybe see you at the very silly Marine QUIZ night next Monday 16th December that Niki Clear and I are hosting at the Driftwood spars 7pm 

Merry Christmas to you all 



Monday, 2 December 2013

Shoresearch en Francais

Last week all the partners of the PANACHE project got together for a meeting in Boulougne-Sur-Mer in Normady. It was a good opportunity to report how well the Shoresarch programme is going here in Cornwall. Information is now coming in from all along the British coast and hopefully our French counterparts will be carrying out more surveys like ours in the future too! 
Highlight of the meeting was a field trip out on the shore to La Pointe de la Creche. At first sight this coast did not look very exiting but out on this rocky point - we found a good range of species including a couple we don't find in Cornwall!

This was so exiting - found in the mortar cracks on the outer breakwater - a graspid crab most likely an invasive species - graspids are very agile little crabs found on the shore in (usually) much warmer climes. Although it certainly looks like Hemigraspus sanguinea as we weren't able to pull it out from its lair we were not able to get proper closeup look so it may be the closely related Hemigraspus takanoi (from japan), which has furry claws. Hemigraspus sanguinea was first found in Europe in 1999 and it is now fairly widely distributed along the channel coast but has yet to arrive in The Uk. Boulogne is only 20 miles or so from Dover so it could arrive any time! 
 Hermit crab fight - the big one wants the other ones shell maybe? - Darwins barnacle in foreground

Darwins barnacle - Eliminus modestus was common on the site particularly on mussel shells

Nice pale juvenile shore crab Carcinus maenas- shame they loose these markings as they grow up! 
False Irish Moss, Mastocarpus stellatus was common on the site
Bryony Chapman of Kent Wildlife Trust is pretty sure that this is Caulacanthus okamurae, an invasive species that looks very similar to many other small branching red seaweeds, this was common on this site attached to barnacles 
Bunnys ears, Lomentaria articulatum
Hydroids Dynamena pumila

Our french marine biologist guide assured us this was a species only found here -Gelidium pusillum - var. pulvinatum Bryony from Kent Wildlife trust has taken a specimen to show to the Natural History Museum.

Close up of the seaweed

Our Local marine biologist guide Alain Richard was really helpful - communication was easy if you stuck to scientific names! 

Can anyone guess what this is?? Answers on a postcard ....

These barnacles - Semibalanus balanoides (thank you to Alain Richard and Frances Kerckhof for helping with the identification) had grown really large and were everywhere. 

in a pool we found several leathery sea squirts Styela Clava - an invasive species from Korea
Beautiful view back to the city of Boulogne-Sur-Mer

Monday, 21 October 2013

Inspirational day for VMCA volunteers at Polzeath

We had a great day visiting Polzeath VMCA this Saturday - volunteers from all five of Cornwalls Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas took part in an informal get together at Polzeath to share experiences and to get inspired! The weather turned out much better than we hoped and we were rewarded with a really fantastic rockpooling session. A Seasearch timed species search survey and walkover survey was carried out and once again we found lots of exiting things!

Highlights included;
Cheryl wiseman was on fire and found loads of interesting small specimens including this tiny juvenile starfish

Tiny starfish - probably Luida cillaris  the seven armed starfish

Really beautiful blue daisy anemone Cereus pedunculatus

Cushion starfish amongst Corralina sea weed 

it is striking the way that bladderwrack growing on this shore have really tough stipes which hold the fronds up and help the plants to cling on despite heavy wave action. They really look like tiny trees! 

Colonial seasquirt living attached to base of Sargassum muticum  possibly  Aplydium pallidum

Nice grey snakelocks anemone amongst Bifucaria bifurcata

Stalked jellyfish Halyclystus octoradiatus found on Sargassum muticum - three were found in the same pool! 
Deep gullies like this one provide cover for species you would not normally expect to find on such an exposed shore.

Pink plates Mesophyllum lichenoides are common amongst Corrallina turf on the edges of the pools 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Have you seen a Corkwing wrasse nest?

Adult male Corkwing wrasse  photo Matt Slater 

The Corkwing wrasse Crenilabrus melops is one of the most colorful and interesting fish found in our coastal waters. When rockpooling (and Shoresearching) we often find juvenile corkwings hiding among sea weeds in large tide pools. When snorkeling we often see them busily swimming around but few people know about their fascinating nesting behavior. this June at Looe Bioblitz I was privileged to have Paul and Teresa Naylor and their son Sam join in with our rockpool ramble on the second day. Paul is a world renowned underwater photographer, author of 'Great British Marine Animals' and recently provided the photos for Teresa Naylors book 'Benny the Blennies Shallow Sea Adventure', all of which I thoroughly recommend you buy! visit for more information.
Paul's passion is in studying the behavior of our marine creatures and his eagle eye was invaluable as he pointed out 2 corkwing wrasse nests. These nests are constructed in a deep rocky crevice on the low shore by the male wrasse and Paul tells me they carefully select the seaweeds they use to make the nest and build it up in layers - The heart of the nest being made of soft red seaweeds, an outer protective and breathable layer of scourweed (Ahnfeltia plicata)  and a top protective and camouflaging layer of Coral weed (Corallina officinalis) the construction must take weeks and the nests end up an impressive size a couple of feet wide and over 12 inches deep! An elaborate courtship display by the male entices one or more females to lay their eggs in the nest and the male then fertilizes them and covers the eggs with carefully selected seaweeds and guards them until they hatch. Once hatched the tiny corkwing wrasse fry then have to fend for themselves in the harsh  marine environment. Sometimes a tiny baby will be found when rockpooling but only a few will survive, to become adults.
When we returned to Hannafore point for our September Shoresearch survey the corkwing nests had all been washed away and it was surprising how deep the rocky crevice was that the nests had been constructed in - building a dense nest of this size is an incredible achievement for a single male corkwing wrasse!

Corkwing wrasse nest at Hannafore, Looe

juvenile wrasse photo Matt Slater

Monday, 14 October 2013

Cereus pedunculatus - Daisy Anemone
Photograph by Matt Slater 
Thought I'd share this photograph of a Daisy anemone taken using my olympus TG2 waterproof point and shoot camera this summer in the lagoon at Hannafore point Looe. Its such an amazing habitat - the shallow  low tide lagoon is home to an astonishing diversity of marine wildlife, eel grass and a huge diversity of seaweeds. Daisy anemones are often found in sandy filled gullys or pools from the low shore to as deep as 50m. This one was sheltered next to a rocky reef. the holdfast of the anemone is attached to bed rock or a large stone below the gravel, when disturbed they quickly retract into the sand and dissapear. This is the largest daisy anemone that I have ever seen and was 5 inches (12 cm approx) across and reminded me of the large tropical bubble tip anemones that clown fish live in.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Rockpooling competition at Holywell Bay Surf Lifesaving Club

 Not strictly relevant to shore search but I wanted to tell you all about the awesome Holywell bay surf lifesaving club rockpooling competition last Saturday - this was the first time the club has run a rockpooling session and it was amazing how much the kids and adults enjoyed learning about their local rockpools. Holywell is an exposed North Coast bay near Newquay that gets battered by Atlantic swells and is not usually associated with good rockpooling but our teams of nippers and adults discovered a wealth of life in the pools and on the rocks. Prizes were awarded for biggest fish - won by my daughter Daisy who (with her mums help caught a monster shanny (and put it back afterwards!)  Prizes were also given for the largest crab well done Millie! and for the most numbers of species - well done Widge and family who found 15 species. The Nipper Juniors paddled out on their boards to Gull rock and found loads of spiney starfish and a  beautiful bloody henry starfish - a species that you rarely find on the shore (I think John the fish may have swam down for this one!). We also found loads of Celtic sea slugs Onchidella celtica on the rocks on the South side of the bay. I had the honour of being the judge and made sure that everyone stuck to the seashore code - no animals were harmed and every one had a great fun day!
Bloody Henry starfish  -photos by Cheryl Cooper

Smiles all round! 

The winning shanny and a runner up! 

Prize giving ceremony at the club hut

Rare to find one of these in a rockpool - two spot goby - 

Little beauty - well done to Widge for catching these
 thanks to Dave for photographing them. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Bizzare worm found feeding on a limpet ...

Thanks to Sarah Stevens, National Trust warden based at Polzeath for sending in this bizzare photo of a strange worm like creature feeding on a limpet. Sarah and Rosie (last years Polzeath VMCA volunteer warden) found it on the shore at Tregardock, North Cornwall. Looking athe colour of the worm and its size I think it is most probably a bootlace worm -Lineus longissimus. These are the longest living creatures found on the shore growing commonly up to 10 m long with the record being 30m- making it britains longest animal! They have an extendable proboscis that it uses to spear its prey - it is a predatory carnivore and scavenger. It is extremly rare to see one feeding - I certainly have never seen one so well done Sarah and Rosie.

Friday, 4 October 2013

End of summer thanks...

Shoresearch Hannafore point Looe 22nd September 2013

Shoresearch Prisk Cove Helford VMCA 21st September 2013

Shoresearch Readymoney Cove Fowey 20th September 2013

Polzeath Shoresearch 19th Sept 2013

St Agnes Shoresearch 18th September 2013

Snorkeling at Durgan Helford VMCA 14th September 2013

St Mawes Marine Day and Snorkelling

Marvelous Manacles Marine Day

Shoresearch Blog 2 Summer 2013 Looe Bioblitz and Loe beach