Sunday, 27 April 2014

Cawsands Shore Explore

Today we had a great time exploring the shore at Sandway beach Cawsand bay. There were approximately 40 members of the public who took part in this informal rockpool ramble and shore search survey. Many of the adults commented that they had lived in the area for years but had never realised how special their stretch of shore is  - the biodiversity is incredible as we all discovered!
John from Looe answers loads of questions!

everyone saw a painted topshell!

Low shore pools are full of pink plates - coraline algae

Trainee marine geeks in action! 

Loads of pacific (non native) oysters were found attached to the rocks - this one is empty but shows the zig zag opening really clearly

the Scarlet and Gold cup corals Ballanophyllia regia are still there! Everyone had the opporutnity to see them! 

Lee found this tiny sea lemon (a type of sea slug)
CLoseup see his gills on the right and horns on the left side

there were so many species of red sea weeds - this feathery red I will have to look up! 

Find of the day - a MASSIVE turban topshell Gibbula magus, not a common species on our shores! Well done Kyle for spotting it! 

nice worm pipefish
It was a great day and nice to be joined by Claire Wallestein, Liz Bailey and other volunteers with Rame Penisula Beach care who are doing a fantastic job of looking after their wonderful corner of Cornwall, and raising public awareness on the problems being faced by the marine environment. Please visit their facebook page for more information!
I'm looking forward to heading east again soon!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Porthgwarra Shoresearch

A fantastic sunny day and no swell combined with a massive spring low tide gave our team of eight enthusiastic shoresearchers a great view of a rarely explored shore at Porthgwrarra last week. This shore was targeted as one of the few easy to access points within the lands end rMCZ. We were treated to an incredibly diverse site with so much colour that, due to its geology is really different to other areas we have surveyed. Huge granite boulders dwarfed the volunteers and scrambling around was great fun- in shallow sandy pools between the rocks micro-climates have formed in pockets of shelter that are seething with red seaweed species and a good diversity of invertebrates! A great time was had by all but sdly we found no stalked barnacles Pocilipes pocilipes. And no stalked jellies at this site. I am sure a snorkel survey there would yield some records though! We will keep searching and I encourage all of you to go out surveying within this rugged and beautiful rMCZ! 
Montagu's blenny in a pool - (posing for the camera) Matt Slater

Three spotted Cowrie Trivia monacha

Risso's crab Xantho pilipes note the hairy back legs that make it different to a Montagu's crab! 

Jake and a nice peice of Dabberlocks Alaria esculenta - tasted nice too! 

Codium , 'Velvet fingers' seaweed among fresh new thongweed (Himenthalia elongata) and red seaweeds

False pepper dulse Osmundia hybrida growing epiphytically on fucus 

A beautiful sea spider Nymphon gracile that was found swimming along in a pool by Stephanie! 

Shoresearch in rock scramble mode! 

Tiny Corralina clumps found all over the large granite boulders 

Strange sponge found under a ledge - still identifying this! 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fantastic Marazion yeilds strange surprises!

The weather stayed fine for our Marazion Marine day yesterday and a large group of shoresearchers turned out for what proved to be another epic day on the shore!
We had a great turnout of families for the public rockpool ramble and, who could fail to be impressed by the beautiful eel grass beds and colorful seaweeds and anemones we found?
People were amazed at the variety of crabs found on the shore - edible crabs, velvet crabs, shore crabs, Montagu's crabs, long horned porcelain crabs, broad clawed porcelain crabs, hermit crabs and squat lobsters were all in abundance!

The water clarity was amazing at the edge of the eel grass beds (which we were careful not to walk on!)
And living among seaweeds were found yet more stalked jellyfish Lecernaryopsis cruxmelitensis.
David Fenwick found an incredibly rare double headed stalked jellyfish.A Siamese twin version of the Maltese cross species.

Thanks to all the volunteers who came along - most got the chance to see a stalked jellyfish and all enjoyed exploring a fantastic shore.

Rare to see a s legged cushion starfish! 

A beautiful gem anemone found by Tim Caulfield

Water clarity in the shallows around the edge of the eel grass bed was astoundingly good 

A five bearded rockling with a very unusual forked barbel

A beautiful day on the Shore

Zoe at the shorelab

Red sponge found in an upper shore pool

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Giant gobies found at Newquay!

WOW what a a day!

A fantastic ERCCIS fish identification day held at Cornwall college Newquay, organised by Sue Scott and led by Doug Herdson, marine fish authority, was topped off by the discovery of four giant gobies in a Newquay rockpool!

This is the first proper record of this species found in Newquay and further evidence that this area is worthy of protection.

The giant goby is a southern species with a very limited distribution in the south west - Cornwall and South Devon are as far north as they currently range. They live in deep pools usually on the upper shore. They are protected by schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981 and are a Biodiversity Action Plan species.

 What a fantastic find for Newquay!
Giant goby Gobius cobitus photo copywrite Matt Slater

The only way to prove they are giant gobies are two pointed lobes found at the front edge of the pelvic fin cup on the underside of the fish. Natural England staff were there to witness the discovery!

this is why we all love living in Cornwall! 

Thanks to Sue, Doug and Becs Allan, and all who took part in this fantastic day! 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Stalked Jellies finally found at Newquay!

First Stalked jelly to be found at Newquay! Photo Matt Slater 
This afternoon I joined Marine Conservation students and lecturers from Cornwall College Newquay for a Shoresearch at Newquay's Fistral beach! For a change we were greeted with calm seas, light winds and sunshine. The students were using baited go pro cameras to attempt to film giant gobies in the pools! The habitat there certainly looks good and we all saw large fish darting for cover as we walked past pools. I'm looking forward to hearing if any were caught on camera!
Whilst the students deployed their cameras I had a scout around looking for stalked jellies and YES finally I have found some! This is really significant for Newquay as as far as I know this rare species has not been recorded before here.  As always its just when you feel like giving up and going home that you find one - they are tiny 2 cm maximum height and approx 1 cm wide, and they live on marine seaweed. A few minutes later I saw another one, this one much smaller. Both are Haliclistus octoradiatus - a Biodiversity action plan species, because of its rarity that is only found in very specific habitats!  It will be fantastic to get more records for these rare species within the Newquay rMCZ!

SJ 2 
 both were found living in bushy Cystociera seaweed  (looks very similar to Sargassum but more bushy and paler in colour).

bushy Cystociera seaweed 
It was great to visit a patch of shore that is so often battered by huge surf but is so rich in life! In a cave a few metres from the pool with the stalked jellies we found a really surprising find - a large colony of bright orange solitary corals living in a pool sheltered from the surf by a cave that faces back toward s the shore!
This is a really rare find and although not a protected species there are only a handful of sited in the UK where you can see this species - the Scarlet and Gold Cup coral Ballanophyllia regia
Angus and students at the coral cave

Close up of Scarlet and Gold Cup corals Balanophyllia regia

Stalked jelly with fingertips as scale

Red grape weed Gastroclonium ovatum - Photo Matt Slater

South Fistral - a fantastically biodiverse and underrated shore

Himenthalia elongata - Thong weed, young growth
Beadlet anemone

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Stalked Jellyfish Bonanza at Mounts Bay

Despite the terrible weather that Cornwall suffered this winter the shore at Marazion was extremely biodiverse for our Shoresearch survey day last Saturday!

A total of 15 volunteers turned out and all were treated to sightings of the nationally rare Stalked jellyfish that are a Feature of conservation interest for this site!  Local naturalists David Fenwick and Dr Paul Gainey joined us in exploring the lower shore shallow eel grass lagoon to the East of the Causeway to St Michaels Mount and straight away we were recording rare stalked jellies.

In total we made:
9 records of Haliclistus octoradiatus -  (5 in the lower shore lagoon and 4 in upper shore pools).
1 record of Leucernariopsis campanulata
1 record of Craterlophus convolvulus 
and 15 records of Leucernariopsis cruxmelitensis

In the past week David has recorded many more Stalked jellies so we now have definite proof that this area is important for these rare protected species. In fact numbers have been so large that it has been described as a bloom! Why this has occurred is not clear and more research needs to be carried out to investigate such rare population explosions.
Maltese Cross Stalked Jellyfish Leucernariopsis cruxmelitensis photo by Matt Slater

Using a hand held GPS Jason Birt was able to record the shore-ward boundary of two large eel grass beds - again a feature of Conservation interest to the site. We discussed with Laurence Smith who runs a stand up paddle board school at Marazion the possibility of returning when the weather is good to map the outer extent of the beds by snorkelling and from paddle boards. It sounds like a great idea - please get in touch if you would be interested in helping out with that!

Long horned porcelain crab magnified! 

Shoresearchers surveying an eel grass filled lagoon

Portrait of a worm pipefish

Generally the level of biodiversity in the site was very high, we recorded lots of Sea hares among the eel grass, and every boulder you looked beneath was home to porcelain crabs, both long horned and broad clawed, Montagues crabs and worm pipefish!

H. octoradiatus by Matt Slater - note the spherical primary tentacles
and the more randomly placed spherical nematocysts
After surveying the lower shore eel grass beds we moved up to a high shore site near the village of Marazion and again found lots of stalked jellys living in pools often attached to wire weed Sargassum muticum. A total of 4 more Haliclistus octoradiatus were found there!

A fantastic day out - and thanks to all of you for turning up!

Looking forward to seeing you over Easter at our next survey on 16th April again at Marazion!