Thursday, 7 May 2015

The boulders of St Ives New Pier are teeming with life

Our joint Fox Club and Shoresearch event at Bammaluz beach near St Ives was a fantastic day out
We walked down the slip way that runs alongside the rubble from the so called New peir or wood pier which was constructed 1n 1860 and many years ago as an outer breakwater to extend the harbour. wooden piles can still be seen but the pier itself didn't last long and now all that remains are the piles and a huge area of rounded blue elvan stone boulders. These create a fabulous habitat for marine life in a part of St Ives bay that has a little protection from storms but is still very high in energy. The stones themselves have been smoothed over the years but their shape provides large gaps between the stones with resulting good water flow and lots of filter feeding organisms such as bryozoans, both encrusting and tufted, barnacles, sea squirts and sponges teeming on these underboulder communities.
We had a great day with bright sunshine and a nice warm breeze and a good turnout! The shore is busy with montagues crabs and large edible crabs were found in between the stones

Fox Club days out are great fun!! 

Osurkovia littoralis a common encrusting bryozoan, lots of barnacles, a gem anemone and can you spot a sea spider?

very large and craggy montagus Crab - possibly harbouring a parasitic barnacle which has prevented it from moulting and will eventually kill it,

Hairy Crab about 1 inch wide
unusual colour morph of common beadlet anemone

This shanny has its breeding colours - dark edges to the fins and a swollen head crest - felt soft, filled with fluid?

Aolida papillosa - sheep sea slug 

Stalked Jellies are here!

The first Shoresearch training day of the year was held on Bank holiday Monday, May the fourth with a classroom session at Falmouth Watersports Centre followed by a survey at nearby castle beach.
Castle beach 
The shore there had recently been battered by easterly storms and we saw evidence of that in that much of the sand on the top of the beach has been removed. 3 beautiful clams called banded Venus were found
Banded Venus shell

The biggest surprise though was seeing so many stalked jellyfish. the lower shore pools were teeming with small Haliclystus octoradiatus stalked jellies, a protected and rare species. there has clearly just been a spring bloom of these strange creatures and as David Fenwick had often described we found that the fine branches of red seaweed Ceramium were particularly thick with tiny 2 or 3 mm high juveniles. They were also on other species of seaweed, in fact it was hard to find a bit of seaweed without stalked jellies on! Sea lettuce, Red grape weed, bunnies ears, all had stalked jellies and we even found them living in Sargassum weed - evidence that this invasive species is providing habitat now to our local rare species.
Stalked Jellyfish in Ceramium
tiny stalked jellies on Ulva
Stalked jellies in wireweed Sargassum muticum

Harpoon weed

Orange colonial ascidian Applidium nordmanii and above it Verruca stroemia barnacles

there was lots of this Cystosiera seaweed - probably Cystoceira nodicaulis

It was a really great day and It was particularly nice to see lots of new volunteers keen to get involved in shoresearch. I hope you all enjoyed it and I am looking forward to the next survey which will be at Talland Bay near Looe on the 16th of June 2015.