Thursday, 20 March 2014

Newquay Shoresearch

 Once again Newquay's shoreline revealed some fantastic secrets on Tuesdays shore search survey
We started out exploring the boulder zone down at the Gazzle a cove on the North side of Towan headland. this more sheltered but still relatively exposed site is rich in biodiversity and the cliff and large boulders are covered in a thick layer of purple coraline algae and supports a diverse underboulder community of sponges, hydroids, bryozoans, tube worms of many species, and loads of crabs, cushion stars, cowries, brittlestars and broad clawed squat lobsters.

Painted topshell Calliosotma zizyphinum

The Boulder zone at extreme low water - the Gazzle - a truly rich habitat
Closeup of a Gem anemone,  Aluactinia verrucosa taken at Towan beach, Newquay by Matt Slater

Green Sea urchin  Psamechinus millaris

A tube worm possibly Sabellaria spinosa? and a crevice sea cucumber Aslia lefevrei

Found in gulley  a Beautiful Dahlia anemone 

Closeup of a very unusual red colour morph of a Daisy Anemone, Cereus pedunculatus.

Sunlight through the Sargassum - Towan beach pools
Banded pincer weed Ceramium, in the sunlight 
Moving on along the rugged coast there we found several pools that would be great to come to on a low tide but sadly the water had covered them - you need to be very careful rockpooling at Newquay because of the potential for large swells! Today wasn't too bad but make sure you don't get swept off the rocks if you go there yourselves! After surveying I took a quick trip down to Towan beach and enjoyed exploring some of the familiar pools in front of the harbour wall, home to gem anemones, green urchins and beautiful sea weeds - I hope you enjoyed the arty photos taken with my underwater camera!

Thanks to my volunteers Cheryl and Rachel it was a great survey with lots more photos saved into the Shoresearch Dropbox!
Sadly we didn't find any stalked jelly fish but I am still sure they must be there somewhere- It would be good to snorkel this site and see if they are there in the shallow sub tidal! Newquay marine group volunteers please get out and look for them!



Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Maenporth Marine Marvels

Cornwall Shoresearch teamed up with Fox club for a public event at Maenporth beach, Falmouth this Sunday the 16th March. It was great to be able to show people just how biodiverse the Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation is!  A total of 16 children and 28 Adults came along and enjoyed a rockpool ramble followed by an Art workshop led by the Fox Clubs very own Kirstie Francis 

The shore is eerily devoid of large seaweeds (it has taken a battering this winter) but there was still loads going on. The rocky reefs to the South side of the bay are covered in pepper dulse, volcano barnacles, limpets, barnacles and predatory dogwhelks. 
Very exiting was the discovery of what appears to be young honeycomb worms Sabellaria alveolata growing on the rocks. This has now been confirmed by Dr Paul Gainey, who tells me that this may not have been seen since Dr Pennington Cocks studied the marine life of Falmouth bay in 1849 and documented Honecomb worm reefs at Swanpool and Maenporth beaches! 
Sabellaria alveolata reefs are a Biodiversity Action Plan Habitat so this is a really significant find for the Fal and Helford SAC! 
 honeycomb worms 

Sean's daughter Daisy found a lovely sheep sea slug Aeolida papillosa in a shallow pool. It is amazing that these guys live by eating sea anemones! They process the stinging nematocysts carry them to the ends of their gill tentacles where they then recycle them and use them to sting any predators that may attack them!
Sheep sea slug
At the lowest part of the shore amongst the kelp we found a beautiful fish - the bizarre tadpole like Montagu's sea snail 
Montagu's sea snail 

Painted topshell - a climate change indicator species

Monday, 3 March 2014

Fantastic Newquay!

Despite the scenes of destruction down at Newquays Towan Beach and despite receiving a massive battering from the winter storms rocky shore creatures are hanging on there at Newquay.
At yesterdays Intermediate Rocky shore training day a team of 27 marine surveyors went out to south Fistral - despite the horrendous rain and winds we found some really cool stuff!
Unusual colour morph of Littorina obtusata - the flat winkle

Dahlia anemone - very rare to see one of these at Newquay

Lots of delicate reds in the pools this one is Plocamium cartilaginum- there was lots of it in lower shore pools
Very thin red sponge in one of the gullies - Possibly Eurypon major

Blue Rayed limpet Patella pellucida and Electra pilosa

Juvenile snakelocks anemones
Isopod  Ideotea granulosa

Corralina officalis  - lots of beautifully lined pools
Fantastic tiny sea slug found by Hazel Selly - most likely a Lamellaria perspicua

The day before I went down to the Gazzel, on the North side of Newquays Towan Head, to get some specimens for the course and the low tide had uncovered a nice area of boulders - possibly rich enough to be classed as under boulder communities?

labrador for scale!