Velvet Swimmers and a Lovely Sea Breeze!

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Anemones, Crustaceans, & True Crabs!

Having joined The Rock Pool Project as a Blue Recovery Ranger back in May this year, we decided it was time for my first blog contribution! 

After last month’s rainy weather we were all excited to get down to the shore in the sunshine this time, albeit fully armed with hats and suncream! We loaded up our rucksacks with pasties from The Princess Pavilion (now famous amongst Falmouth’s rockpoolers!) and excitedly headed down to the beach.

The citizen scientists split into two teams, first time attendees dipped their feet in (no pun intended) by taking part in a True Crab survey whilst those returning for a second or third beach day were offered the opportunity to collect data for a crustacean survey instead. I took part in the latter, although having since mistaken a Montagu’s Crab for a Shore Crab, I may have to go back to focusing on the crabs for now… 

This easy to make mistake (for a relatively new rockpooler like myself) highlights something about rockpooling which has captured my imagination from when I first came along to one of these days: The diversity in what can be found in each pool. Not just the different types of wildlife that inhabit the pools but the variety of colour and sizes within one species…

You are guaranteed to find something different on every visit down to the shore, no two days are the same and you might be surprised at what captures your interest!
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At the Beach

The wildlife had certainly noticed the heat, some of the crabs had buried themselves down deeper into the sand of the rock pools.

My survey partner and I found that in the first fifteen minutes, we weren’t noticing much movement in the pools. However there is always something to see and she had soon found herself looking closer at the barnacles clustered together on the rocks, attempting the arduous task of distinguishing between the species.

However, it soon picked up and our find of the day was a large Velvet Swimming Crab. I only stumbled across her by accident whilst trying (unsuccessfully) to capture a large Common Prawn. Her red eyes glared back at me from underneath the fronds of Spiral Wrack and without thinking twice (even though they are notorious for delivering a nasty nip!) I was able to pluck her out of the water. After putting up a slight fight she decided it was far too hot and let me carry her safely back to the mobile rock pool where she was very popular with the families returning from their Anemone hunt. I made sure to get a photo with her before she was safely returned to the pools.

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See Our Shore

We brought back a wide variety of wildlife for the ‘See Our Shore’ session, including firm favourites such as the St Piran’s Hermit Crab, which are always a hit with the families. We even had a Snakelocks Anemone in the centre of the pool, although she didn’t seem to like being the centre of attention and soon started shuffling her way across the pool in the hopes of finding a more hidden spot…

The activity booklets were once again a hit, with a few of the families returning to complete the next section of the challenge. These are becoming a great tool for helping the younger rockpoolers learn something new every time they step onto the shore. 

All in all, another successful beach day! 

As always, the Falmouth team would like to say a big thank you to those who came along as well to our staff and volunteers who are making these days a real success.

Fancy joining us next time for a day of rock pool discovery? If so, click here to book your place. Hope to see you there

Images from the day:

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