Monday, 2 November 2015

Revisiting my childhood shore... Swanpool

For the last Cornwall Wildlife Trust Shoresearch survey of the year we headed to a shore which I spent many happy hours as a child exploring. I was very lucky to have grown up a short walk from Swanpool beach, Falmouth and the rockpools were my playground!  It was great to see that the shore is still just as rich with life.

Alongside the survey we were also running a family public event which was really well attended - the beauty of this shore is that it is easily accessed and despite being seriously rummaged about in on a daily basis by local kids and holiday makers the area seems to cope with it incredibly well and is probably so productive thanks to seaweeds being cast up from further off shore and nutrients coming from Swanpool lake. Every boulder was home to several small edible crabs, broad clawed porcelain crabs and huge numbers of worm pipefish! The children and adults really enjoyed it! Good to see old Falmouth friends Nick and Sophie and their kids and Vicky and her daughter!

One thing that has changed is that there are now (Xantho sp) pebble crabs to be found - not as many as on some shores (perhaps this is because the freshwater input favors shore crabs) but both species Montagus and Rissos were found. We also found a really cool Sea Lemon - in a nice bright orange colour.

After a good rummage under the rocks we headed a little further North along the coast and eagle eyed shoresearcher Liz Barker called me over to look at something she described as looking like a cow pat stuck to the rock. It was a large patch of jelly like dark green velvety seaweed - Something I have only seen before in books called Codium adhaerans. It is a relatively rare find it turns out. According to Dr Paul Gainey (my old biology teacher and legendary local biological recorder) it has been recored at Nare head and Prisk cove but never before at Swanpool. It is a species at the northern end of its distribution and one that seems to come and go! It was very exciting!
Liz and her cowpat

Codium adhaerans - similar to velvet fingers seaweed but covering the rocks

Patrick D'Arcy Evans is now on a roll with his stalked jelly spotting and he found a fine example of Lecnariopsis campanulata - a delicate tiny stalked jellyfish which is a Biodiversity action plan species.

A couple of young biologists, Christophe and Natalie, studying at University of Exeter, Tremough campus who joined us for the first time found some really cool stuff - firstly some tiny mites which are so small I definitely would not have spotted them - in the photo you can see how small they are!

According to David Fenwick of you would need a scanning electron microscope to identify them so maybe we wont be able to do that!  They also found this beautiful sea beech plantlet growing on the edge of one of many beautiful corraline algae rich pools.

Overall it was a great survey and a fitting end to a great year! Please get in touch if you would like to recieve my update emails and look out for next years programme coming soon (fingers crossed!)

Cystoceira nodousm - there are lots of beautiful Cystoceira seaweeds growing in the pools here. Some I couldn't identify!

another shot of the stalked jellyfish. 

Corrallina officinalis ,   coral weed growing luxuriantly on the edge of the pools