2017 was my first year of leading events for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's junior branch. I used to love the events as a kid and introducing a new generation and their families to jellyfish, starfish and other rockpool creatures is so much fun! I can't wait for my 2018 Wildlife Watch events and the Looe Marine Conservation Group rockpool rambles where I also volunteer.

May Half-Term Rock Pooling

Who doesn’t need a week off at the moment? Whether you’re visiting your local beach or holidaying in Cornwall, rock pooling is a free and fun experience for all the family.

Read on for links to events, rock pooling tips and my guide to what you might find.

Make every beach trip an adventure with my children’s book, Beach Explorer: 50 Things to See and Discover. It’s packed with hands-on activities, facts and quizzes.

EVENTS

Organised rock pooling events are perfect for learning about marine wildlife with the experts. Due to current restrictions, booking is essential for most activities and plans may change. At the time of writing, the following groups and organisations are planning events in the half term:

If you’re not able to attend an event, don’t worry. It’s easy to rock pool safely and to look after the wildlife with a little preparation.

ROCK POOLING TIPS

All you need for successful rock pooling is a pair of wellies or sturdy shoes and a little patience. There are many fascinating species to see, so go slowly, look carefully, leave everything as you found it and have fun!

  • The European 3-spot cowrie (Trivia monacha)
  • St Piran's Hermit Crab at Hannafore, Looe
  • A colourful Xantho pilipes crab.
  • A dahlia anemone.
  • Watching fish at Kynance Cove with Junior (photo by Other Half)
  • Green shore urchin, Hannafore, Looe
  • Passing round a spiny starfish
  • Junior getting to know our wrasse-friend
  • A juvenile turbot at Lundy Bay
  • Cornish Rock Pools junior drying off in the sunshine at Port Nadler, near Looe.
  • Plaidy near Looe
  • Just one more rock... exploring the Cornish rock pools
  • Flat periwinkles and other shells washed up on Looe Beach
  • Montagu's blenny with its distinctive head crest
  • Although painted topshells are a common sight on my local shores, I never tire of photographing them.
  • Always check the tide times, stay clear of cliffs and waves and dress for the weather.
  • Nets can harm delicate sea creatures so are best left at home. A bucket or tub is ideal if you want to scoop up an animal to look at, but be sure to put it back.
  • Why not finish up with a beach clean to help look after the wildlife?

Find out more about rock pooling with my top tips and guides.

BEACHES

The choice is endless! Cornwall has over 300 beaches and they are all fantastic. Any beach with rock pools will have crabs, snails, anemones, fish and more.

Find out about some of my favourite rock pooling beaches here.

WHAT TO SEE

May and June are fabulous rock pooling months. The pools are bursting with new life from baby fish to brightly coloured seaweeds and stunning starfish.

Sit quietly and look closely at the pools to watch prawns, crabs and sea snails going about their business. Gently lift seaweed and look under stones to reveal the secret hiding places underneath (be sure to put them back as you found them).

Here are some of my favourite treasures to find in the pools …

Cushion Stars

These puffy little starfish are common in the pools. Did you know that they can re-grow their arms?

Shannies

The common blenny (or shanny) is perfectly adapted to shore life and can even breathe through its skin when out of the water. It also has a great smile.
The common blenny (or shanny) is perfectly adapted to shore life and can even breathe through its skin when out of the water. It also has a goofy smile.

Sea lemons

In the water the sea lemon's rhinophores and frilly gills emerge and we can see its wonderful colours
Sea lemons a type of sea slug. They eat sponges and breathe through the frilly gills on their backs.

Green Shore Crabs

Green shore crab with eggs - Christmas eve 2018 in Looe
Green shore crabs can survive in lots of different conditions and can eat almost anything – even each other. This female has eggs under her tail.

Common Prawns

Prawns are curious and will often swim over to investigate anything new in their pool. You can see right through their bodies!

Strawberry anemones

Strawberry anemones are red with yellow flecks, just like a strawberry. Their tentacles are packed with stinging cells to catch their prey.

Star Ascidians

Star ascidians might look like flowers but they are simple animals called sea squirts. They form colonies – each ‘petal’ of the flower shapes is an individual animal. They can be yellow, blue, purple, red or white.

Flat Periwinkles

Flat periwinkle in the Cornish rock pools
Flat periwinkles feed on seaweed and come in lots of colours. Look out for their eggs on the seaweed – they look like little circles of jelly.

These are just a few of the creatures you might find. Discover more with my guides to the wildlife in the rock pools and my blog.

Happy rock pooling! Be sure to get in touch to let me know what you find this half-term.

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