Friday, 16 October 2015

Supermoon provides Super Shoresearching - SHORESEARCH WEEK 2015

Cornwall Wildlife Trust volunteers were treated to the best rockpooling the United Kingdom has to offer last week on their annual Shoresearchsurvey week. The huge spring tides generated by the supermoon were amongst the lowest seen in recent years. On top of this the weather was incredible with bright sunshine and light winds and the high atmospheric pressure meant that the water was pushed even further down!

Portrait of a Hairy Crab Pilumnus hirtellus - photographed at Polzeath by Matt Slater

Shoresearch Week is an annual event now in its fourth year where volunteers record the marine life they find at all five of Cornwall’s Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas, at St Agnes, Polzeath, Looe Fowey and Helford.
Matt Slater, Marine Awareness Officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust led the events,
“It was an amazing week with perfect weather and great company. Shoresearch is great because you never know what you will find and with a team of keen volunteers the chances of finding something exciting is far greater! Our marine life in Cornwall is incredible and overall we were able to record over 200 species at all five sites and a total of 47 volunteers took part.
Matt and the Conger! Photo by Jenny Lord
Highlights of the week included;
• Finding beautiful colourful fan worms growing on kelp at Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, exploring the eerie conger hole and seeing a tiny baby tompot blenny with its fluffy eyebrows!
• Finding a small conger eel on the shore at Hannafore point beneath a rock. Volunteers were able to walk nearly half way to Looe Island and were right in amongst the kelp zone, finding animals and plants you would normally have to snorkel to see!
• At Polzeath an incredibly calm sea meant we were able to access rocky platforms covered in Kelp and furbelows which we have never been able to get near to safely before. Living amongst this seaweed we found stunningly camouflaged and rarely recorded Gibbs spider crabs and a beautiful fish called a Montagu’s sea snail.
• At Prisk Cove Helford we saw bright green juvenile ballan wrasse, weird sea cucumbers, lots of green sea urchins and a wealth of other species beneath the rocks.
• At Fowey we found common starfish, cup corals and loads of Risso’s crabs – climate change indicator species whose range is moving further north.

Matt Slater continues,
“It is encouraging to note how many young people took part, Shoresearch is great fun and everyone reported that they learned a lot by taking the time to find out what is living on the shore which many people don’t get a chance to see! Many of our volunteers go on to develop a real passion for the marine world and it is exciting to be finding the marine biologists of the future!
Five days in a row of rockpooling is surprisingly hard work, reports Matt,
I had blisters on my toes from my wetsuit boots and cuts on my fingers from lifting rocks, but it was well worth it! I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to have spent the week in this way! Next week I will be in the office pressing seaweeds and identifying specimens from hundreds of photographs taken by myself and the volunteers”.
If you are interested in helping out on our surveys and helping as a volunteer for your local marine group please get in touch.

Visit our volunteering page if you would like to get involved.

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