Friday, 28 February 2014

Dates for 2014 Shoresearch Programme - with some new ones for Newquay and Bude.

Hi Folks, many of you will have already seen the list of surveys but here is shortened version for you to refer to - I have added in a couple of extra dates with possibly a few more still TBC! 
There are sadly only a few good spring tides over weekends this summer and I cant be in more than one place at a time so please dont feel tied to these dates - once you are confident to look for Core species yourselves feel free to go off and do your own surveys - but as it says in the last post please try to focus on the rMCZs! 

th March Newquay Shoresearch
29th March Marazion training/survey
16th April Marazion public event and survey
17th April Lands End rMCZ survey (location TBC)
27th April Cawsand public event and survey
15th May Stackhouse cove survey
16th May St Ives bay Shoresearch
15th June Battery Rocks public event and survey
16th June Shoresearch location TBC
12 July Long Rock Mounts bay public event and survey
12th July Night Rockpooling survey volunteers only Marazion
13th July Helford Passage Public event and survey
15th and 16th July Shoresearch surveys Bude – Hartland point details TBC
10th and 17th August Swanpool beach Falmouth
28th August Par Beach public event and survey
8th Sept St Agnes VMCA Shoresearch
9th Sept Polzeath VMCA Shoresearch
10th Sept Fowey VMCA Shoresearch
11th Sept Helford VMCA Shoresearch
12th Sept Looe VMCA Shoresearch
13th Sept Giant goby search TBC

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Call to Action for MCZs

It was a fantastic turnout at last weeks Shoresearch training evening. Thanks to all those who came from all ends of the county. A total of 27 volunteers attended, including a number of new recruits, several experienced VMCA committee members and volunteers, several marine scientists, local marine lecturers and even staff from Natural England.

It is really great that so many people want to get involved with the Shoresearch programme. I think it bodes well for the year to came and hope that we get a good set of results. Collecting good quality verifiable records of rare shore species will be vital as this summer will be last chance we have to provide much needed data to back up the next tranche of MCZs.  We need a coherent network of Marine Conservation zones around our coast for the long term benefit of our valuable marine habitat and we only have until September to do this so this is a real call for action! 

Sites we need to get data for are Mounts bay rMCZ, Lands End rMCZ, Newquay and Gannel Estuary rMCZ , Hartland point to Tintagel rMCZ, and St Ives Bay.
It is important that we get out and survey as much as we can in these areas this year as the data collected will be really useful in arguing the case for these zones will be vital to ensure that we get a cohesive network of MCZs throughout our waters.

Keep looking out for core species and don't forget that there are a few more species not included that will be really significant if you find them: these are;

  • Eel grass (live, not washed up on the beach)
  • Stalked Jellyfish - you must take good macro photos and get GPS positioning to go with the photos.
  • Giant Goby for more information on these see my earlier post.
  • Peacocks tail sea weed,
  • Maerl beds,
  • Honeycomb worm reefs,
  • Under boulder communities (boulders are classed as rocks larger than 25cm diameter and there must be several encrusting species - ascidians, sponges, bryozoans, keel worms etc living beneath the rocks. Please take lots of photos,
  • Couches goby
  • Gooseneck barnacle Pollicepes pollicepes 
  • European Eel,
  • Native oyster,
  • Mussel beds  -where mussels grow on soft substrates and themselves create a new habitat

Don't forget carrying out a survey is easy and if you can't make many of the organised survey dates you are encouraged to go out and carry out your own shoresearch. All you need is a digital camera, a recording sheet (which can be downloaded here) and a GPS or GPS enabled smart phone.
Please remember though to keep safe on the shore and follow the sea shore code!

Send your data and photos in to me at

Don't forget you can also use the Shoresearch Cornwall dropbox - just drop me an email and I will send you an invite!

Giant goby 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Honeycomb reefs of St Austell Bay

This winter has been unbelievable - Massive gales and high tides have been battering Cornwall's coast relentlessly since Christmas.  This weekend saw some of the highest tides of the winter and It looked like the Shoresearch Rockpool ramble leaders training day would be a total washout!
Fortunately on Sunday morning we woke to the first sunny day of the year (more or less) and we had a cracking time down on the shore at Spit beach near Par!
It was great to have such a good turnout of lovely people all keen to learn and to gain the skills needed to share their enthusiasm with the public.A total of 22 volunteers took part and they traveled from all over the county, from Polzeath, Fowey, Looe, St Agnes, the Roseland and we also had sevenlocals who are members of the Friends of Par beach. After a couple of slideshows held in Gott hall we walked down (though the floods) to the beach which is right next to Par Docks.

Happy shoresearchers! 

It was really exciting to see how alive and diverse the shore is here so close to the docks - I had heard reports but it was great to see for first hand the beautiful colonies of Honeycomb Worm - Sabellaria alveolata that cover a large area of the mid shore. these worms grow in colonies and they construct their concrete like tubes using sand. The sand they need is very specific and this rare Biodiversity Action Plan species is only found in a handful of locations around the country. The only other place in Cornwall where this species is found is along the coast between Millook and Bude on Cornwall's far north coast.

GPS proof that these rare colonies exist! 

Honeycomb worm colony closeup, Matt Slater
The beach at Spit is made up mainly of quartz sand and gravel, and mica which are waste products from the china clay processing that has been carried out for centuries in this area. It was interesting to see that the tubes were made up mainly of tiny fragments of quartz (plus some shell sand). Perhaps this is the reason why this rare species is found in this one location alone on the south coast of Cornwall?

The shore is very unusual with very few mussels and a large covering of pepper dulse Osmundia pinnatifida over the rocks.
Pepper dulse carpeting rocks, Matt Slater 

Volcano barnacles - Balanus perforatus are very common on this site.
Volcano barnacles Balanus perforatus, Matt Slater
Cystoseira tamariscifolia Rainbow wrack (photo Matt Slater )
 and in the pools we found small rainbow wracks growing as well as the beautiful false eyelash seaweed, sausage weed and young plants of Sargassum muticum.

Snakelocks anemone Photo by Margaret Gardner

There were countless hermit crabs Pagurus bernhardus, daisy anemones, snakelocks, strawberries and beadlet anemones.
We also found a young sea hare - Aplysisa punctata, and a sheep sea slug Aeolida papillosa.

It was great to see large numbers of freshly laid dog whelk eggs! and so many signs of the coming spring on such a beautiful day (amongst such heavy storms!) Including a small spotted sea hare Aplysia punctata.
Sea Hare

Thanks to all who came along and I hope to see you at the next surveys!