Friday 10 August 2012

Friends of Shoreham Beach Annual Tide Pool Event

The day started quietly. I arrived early and started to fill up the large trays I had brought to display some of the animals we found. As the pools where quite shallow we walked across to the water edge (and back many times) until they were filled.

Hunting amongst the pebbles at the waters edge was a pair of turnstones, carefully flipping over pebbles to find invertebrates. They seemed quite sure that they were perfectly camouflaged amongst the pebbles as they carried on feeding as we carried the water back and forth.
A solitary cormorant preened itself at the top of a marker.

 I noticed that people had started to gather at the top of the beach. Soon they were making their way down. We usually gather at the top of the beach for an introduction but too many to do this today, so I let them down onto the sand.

Once we were all down on the beach, as the lead, I gathered them together into groups to give them an introduction and health and safety guidance. I also spoke a bit about the friends of Shoreham, Beach, the organisers of this annual event

As on previous rock pooling events we had set up containers to demonstrate some of the creatures we discovered.

These included some large shore crabs
Shore crabs are the perfect seashore dweller. Jointed armour for protection but also allows movement. If that doesn't work, they can shed a limb to enable them to escape. This can be regrown when they shed their carapace body shell.

Prawns and shrimps

 Edible periwinkle and much more.

This juvenile greater pipefish was a really good find.

Three juvenile flatfish were also found on the day. Flatfish can change their colour to match their surroundings. This helps them avoid predators and lay in wait for a tasty meal
Estuary areas are very important nursery grounds for flatfish and other marine life.

 4 different types of fish fry were found, but they are difficult to identify when they are this small. These are not tide pool fish but temorary inhabitants trapped by the out going tide.
We did identify some larger juvenile bass.

 Along with the usual common blenny and goby we found a specimen of long-finned sea scorpion.
 This fish is perfectly camouflaged in the tide pools and has protective spines on its head and gill covers so needs to be handled with extra care.
This fish has a large mouth and can easily gulp down small prawns and fish.

At the end of the event we returned all the sea creatures back to the pools where they were found. We usually have about 60 people attend the event - this year there was way over 100 people!

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