Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Shoresearch Cornwall Spring Highlights 2016

Rare hermit crab rediscovered in Cornwall!! 

Shoresearch at Castle Beach Falmouth
Thanks to massive spring tides our spring surveys went really well this year. We welcomed and trained lots of new volunteers and ran some very successful surveys. At Polridmouth near Fowey we recorded two species of rare stalked jellyfish and found our first crystal gobies!
At Castle beach we ran a very well attended public rockpool ramble and a Shoresearch led by our volunteers Patrick D'Arcy Evans and Sue Scott. Massive highlight of this day was when Adrian Rowlands brought over a bucket of tiny crabs etc and within it there was one that looked different!
It turned out to be a rare species Clibanarius erythropus - a warm water hermit crab not seen in the UK in significant numbers since 1967.  A population did exsist in Cornwall  in the 1960's (First discovered by trustee of Cornwall wildlife Trust Dr Nick Tregenza when he was a teenager!) Small populations existed  back then at Mousehole, Mounts bay and at wembury in south devon. These gregarious crabs dissapeared sadly from our shores after the Torrey Canyon oil Spill of 1967,  possibly killed off by strong chemicals used to clear the oil. #
Rediscovering such an awesome little creature was incredibly exiting!! Lots more photos and information can be found on our facebook page , and on our website here
Since then the species has been discovered at several sites around Cornwall including in Mounts bay by David Fenwick, at Porthleven by Paul Gainey, at Mousehoe on the next shorsearch survey and at Trenow near Perranuthnoe. One has even been found on the north Coast on a survey led by volunteers from Coastwise north Devon.
It is really exciting that this species which is at the northern edge of its distribution has clearly had a significant recruitment last year and may now be here to stay! It is a shame it doesn't have a good common name yet. In Stella Turks book Seashore Life In Cornwall published in 1971 she refers to them as European hermit crabs but I cant help thinking that there must be a more appropriate name we could give them!

BBC Springwatch have been down to Falmouth to cover the story and Marine officer Matt Slater helped them find the crabs - It wasn't easy but after 3 hours searching, right in the nick of time Matt found three specimens!
Add caption

This year we are also running a series of extreme eco events where we have enlisted the help of coasteering companies and Stand up paddle boarding companies to help us run a series of more challenging and possibly more engaging surveys in areas which are harder to access. Our survey of the reef at Polzeath called Cowrie reef was the first in this series. We really enjoyed working with the highly knowledgeable staff at Cornish Rock Tors and it was a great survey. I am really looking forward to visiting this shore again to do some snorkelling in the rockpools there which were amazing!
Ben Spicer of Cornish Rock Tors sharing his passion for the shore!
Ben and Hugo from Cornish Rock Tors invited a small group of us to visit the caves they regularly explore at Port Gaverne, this is an environment you would not be able to survey without specialist help! It was a great day with lots of swimming, rock climbing and jumping into the water. We were privileged to have been shown a huge cave called shrimp cave and inside it were very rare scarlet and gold cup corals!
Photo by Thomas Daguerre - Hydromotion Media

We were also taken on a rockpooling session with a difference by Karl Thompson of Newquay Activity Centre who showed us a fascinating stretch of coastline at Newquays Towan headland, and area known as the Gazzle with incredible caves full of baked bean seasquirts, tompot blennies in the cracks in the rocks, It was an amazing day and 80 marine species were recorded!
Exporing the Tea caves at Newquay headland 
With lots more Shoreserach surveys and extreme eco events planned for this year  all are welcome to get involved and survey the shore! To be added to the shoresearch email list so you will be kept up to date please email 
for a full list of events for this year visit

Broad Clawed Porcelain crab photographed at a shoresearch survye at Trevone, Mounts Bay