Friday, 25 July 2014

Crabs and Critters at Helford Passage

To finish off the Mega Shoresearch weekend in style the Shoresearch volunteers and I drove up to the Helford for a public event called 'Crabs and Critters'. The sun came out and the weather was fabulous. Approximately 40 people joined myself and the Shoresearch volunteers to explore this muddy but highly producive shore on Bar beach next to Helford passage. It was amazing how many species were found and a stream of excitable kids clutching crazy creatures kept myself and the Helford marine conservation group volunteers busy answering loads of questions! Top finds included a beautiful greater pipefish (I think found by Maddie Lydon) some MASSIVE velvet swimming crabs, a very strange looking hermit crab - Pagurus prideaux that lives inside a cloak anemone. Beautiful Calliactis parasitica - hermit crab anemones. Strange jelly like blobs were common in the shallows - I am still trying to find out what these are! 
To round the event off in style we were lucky to be able to meet with Lynda and Simon Filmer, local fishermen who showed us a fantastic pair of large brown crabs! It was a great chance to introduce Cornwall Wildlife Trusts new project Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, which highlights the abundance of sustainably harvested seafood in our county. Lynda and Simon talked to us all about how they catch shellfish using pots and nets and we all saw first hand the power of the edible crabs pinch! 

Thanks to Jake, Chloe and all the volunteers who carried out a timed species search and walkover survey, and thanks to the volunteers from Helford Marine Conservation group for a most enjoyable day! 

Lynda and Simon Filmer of Filmers fish and me with a massive crab!  

Pagurus prideaux in a cloak anemone - a rare find on the shore! 

unidentified jelly blobs 5cm across - eggs? 

Toby with a decorator crab

candystripe flat worm

Calliactis parasitica anmeone (small one) usually these are found on Hermit crab shells

The Lydons with their catch! 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Night Rockpooling at Marazion!

Midnight Madness at Marazion! Photo copywrite Alan Barker

 What an amazing experience! Despite light drizzle our volunteers only Night Rockpooling session at Marazion causeway was far better than expected! Setting out in our wetsuits and high viz vests and head torches anyone looking on must have wondered what we were up to! Crabs were out and about everywhere and seemed very surprised to be disturbed by crazy humans with torches!
Standing in the shallows our torches attracted hoards of tiny mysid shrimps, prawns and juvenile fish. We were soon joined by inch long adult atlantic cuttlefish. these guys are absolute beauties and although we had seen some on the day time survey we were treated to far more sightings on the night rockpooling!

The survey highlighted once again the incredible diversity of life on this shore and proved that night rockpooling allows you to build a much more full picture of the species present. Particularly species that are more active at night such as fish, crustaceans and cephalopods!
Shore crab in Torch light, Matt Slater 

Atlantic or little Cuttle Sepiola atlantica (approx 20mm total length), Matt Slater 

Star Ascidian Bottryllus shlosseri - a colonial sea squirt (each star approx 5mm across), Matt Slater

Dahlia anemone glowing blue in LED torch light, Matt Slater

A tiny baby tompot blenny found beneath a large boulder. (length approx 2 cm). Matt Slater

A beautiful sea slug Eubranchus farrani found by Jake Meyers and Trudy Russell. (Length approx 10mm), Matt Slater

Decorator crab Macropodia spp (Width approx 4cm), covered in sea weed for camoflague. Matt Slater

Mega Shoresearch Weekend 2014 longrock Marine day

The first event of our Mega Shoresearch weekend was a survey and public event at Long Rock near Penzance.
Here an extensive reef of Mylor slate lies just outside the current boundary of the Mounts Bay Proposed Marine Conservation Zone. We were joined by Local marine expert David Fewick and Rob Seabold of Natural England as well as a host of keen volunteers and the slippery rocks of this impressive reef were surveyed! 
Holes bored in Mylor slate by Piddocks - photo by Margaret Gardener
The slate is bored in many places by burrowing bivalves called Pidocks, themselves a rare speices to find on our coasts which have very particular geological requirements! Just to the West of the reef lies a fantastic eel grass bed which although taking a beating by our winter gales is still hanging on in there! 

the tide rapidly came in and sadly I didnt make it out to the piddock holes so will definately need to visit again soon! 

Cat worm Nephtys hombergi  found in mud

Cat worm Nephtys hombergi  Proboscis extended - Fearsome! 

Thin Tellins were common in the mud
Despite a windy and wet afternoon we werent deterred and thanks to a fantastic new waterproof heavy duty gazebo, and the loan of Lawrence Smiths fantastic luxury gas bbq we were able to feed and water all the shoresearch volunteers and our PANACHE seasearch divers who carried out an evening shoredive near the causeway. 
Sarah and the food!!  - thanks to Loz  from Ocean high Paddleboarding for lending us his EPIC GAS Barbecue! 

PANACHE Shoresearch and Seasearchers at Mounts bay