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

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