Tag Archives: Family

An Outbreak of Starfish – Wildlife Watch Explores Readymoney Cove

Before I’ve found the time to upload all of last year’s records, the rock pooling event season is upon me again. Junior comes along to help at my first Wildlife Watch event of the year for Cornwall Wildlife Trust at Readymoney Cove, undeterred by the bone-chilling wind.

A crowd of hardy young rock poolers, kitted out from head to toe in weatherproof gear, is gathered at the top of the beach and I am joined by Liz, a lovely volunteer assistant. Half the group have their hands up before I’ve even asked a question and these keen kids are practically bursting with stories and facts about crabs, blennies, pipefish and killer jellyfish. They also have high expectations of what we might find – seahorses and cuttlefish are among the requests – but most of all they want to see starfish.

Starfish of some sort are almost guaranteed on all our local beaches, especially cushion stars, which like to hide under rocks and overhangs. If we are lucky we might also find brittle stars, that walk on their five feathery arms, or even a gargantuan spiny starfish, so I am hopeful that we will be successful on our mission.

As the group spreads across the shore, the finds soon rush in. We turn shiny top shells in our fingers, hold chunky-clawed Xantho hydrophilus crabs, and to the immense joy of one young seahorse enthusiast, we find the next best thing to a seahorse: a male worm pipefish with eggs on his belly.

Xantho hydrophilus - the 'furrowed crab'.
Xantho hydrophilus – the ‘furrowed crab’.
Male worm pipefish with eggs
Male worm pipefish with eggs

Pipefish are close relatives of the seahorse and the male takes care of the female’s eggs, storing them in a special groove on his belly until they hatch. Coincidentally this pipefish has taken up residence next to an old pipe.

It only takes a minute for the children to discover a common starfish. I often find one or two on this beach, even though they’re not so common intertidally as offshore. The deep-water harbour alongside this beach is probably packed with them and sometimes young common starfish make their way into these sheltered pools. Today, however, there is something unusual going on.

One of the common starfish found - photo courtesy of Liz Barker
One of the common starfish found – photo courtesy of Liz Barker

Under the first stone I turn, I see two baby common starfish. As I look I notice a third, a fourth and then a fifth. On the side of the rock, there is yet another starfish. The adjacent rock has four more.

Common starfish at Readymoney Cove near Fowey
Common starfish at Readymoney Cove near Fowey

Everywhere on the beach, children are shrieking with excitement as they find more starfish. There are scores of them among the rocks I look at.

We could easily collect the starfish by the bucket-load, but these children know not to disturb the animals. We keep just a few for our trays so that we can watch them and all those who want to can have a go at holding a starfish before they are returned to their rocky homes.

While the children are caught up in the magic of starfish, I take a moment to explore the rocks at the sea’s edge and discover this wonderful yellow clubbed sea slug, Limacia clavigera.

Limacia clavigera - the yellow-clubbed sea slug
Limacia clavigera – the yellow-clubbed sea slug

There is never enough time to take many photos at these events as I am too caught up in the excitement of identifying finds and helping the children learn more about them. We also have plenty of discussions about the animals’ impressive defences and quirky eating habits.

The children do a perfect job of looking after the animals, returning them all safe and unharmed to their homes before the incoming tide floods back into the pools. Despite the chilly conditions, the kids are buzzing with happiness at finding so many starfish. A friend tells me her kids talked of nothing else all the way home.

Even Junior, who has seen most things before, is delighted with today’s finds and even more delighted when he secures the very last cheese and onion pasty from the beach shop for his lunch.

If you’d like to get involved with Wildlife Watch, book on to my rockpooling sessions or join any other Wildlife Watch events, check out the listings on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust pages.

Did you know that starfish can regrow their limbs? Find out more about the secrets of these iconic rock pool animals in my book Rock Pool: Extraordinary Encounters Between the Tides out on 2nd May with September Publishing and available through local and national bookshops and online.

Summer Holiday Marine and Beach Events in Cornwall

Whether you and the children want to try rock pooling, beach cleans, snorkelling or dolphin watching this summer, you’ll find plenty of fabulous family-friendly events all around Cornwall.

Please check the full details on the organiser’s website, including booking requirements, any charges and age restrictions before attending.

Remember to book well in advance if required.

Have fun!

 

Event Date Time Location Info More details…
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 12 July 10.15am – 12.30pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL National Trust
Rockpool Expedition and Picnic 14 July 11.30am – 2.00pm Nr Porthcothan BOOKING ESSENTIAL Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Seaweed Search 15 July 12.00 – 2.30pm Prisk Cove, Mawnan Smith Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Durgan Beach Clean 15 July 2.00pm – 4.00pm Bosveal NT Car Park National Trust
Snorkel Safari 15 July 2.00pm – 5.00pm Little Fistral, Newquay CONTACT ORGANISER Newquay Marine Group
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 17 July 2.30pm – 4.45pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Snorkel Safari and Barbecue 17 July 6.00pm – 8.00pm Gyllingvase Beach, Falmouth BOOK TICKETS, Over 9s only. Falmouth Marine Group
Polzeath Beach Clean 18 July 9.30am Polzeath Polzeath Marine Group
Polzeath Marine Crafts 25 July 10.30am – 12.30pm Polzeath Marine Centre £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 26 July 10.15am – 12.30pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Radical Rockpooling 29 July 11.45am – 2.00pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL. Over 11s only Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Seaquest Seawatch – watching for dolphins etc. 30 July 11.00am – 1.00pm Lizard Point Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Sunset Session Boat Trip – Wildlife Watching 30 July 6.30pm – 8.30pm Newquay Cornwall Wildife Trust
Seaquest Seawatch – watching for dolphins etc. 31 July 11.00am – 1.00pm St Agnes Head NCI Station Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 31 July 1.15pm – 3.30pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Paddle for Plastic Kayak Adventure 31 July 2.00pm – 5.00pm Lizard area BOOKING ESSENTIAL. Cornwall residents only. Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Seaquest Seawatch – watching for dolphins etc. 1 Aug 11.00am – 1.00pm Towan Headland, Newquay Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Marine Crafts 1 Aug 10.30am – 12.30pm Polzeath Marine Centre £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Sandymouth rock pool ramble 1 Aug 1.30pm – 3.00pm Sandymouth  £1 per person. Check booking details with organiser National Trust
Looe Summer Snorkel 1 Aug 4.00pm -6.00pm Hannafore, Looe BOOKING ESSENTIAL. 9-24 year olds only. Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Seaquest Seawatch – watching for dolphins etc. 2 Aug 11.00am – 1.00pm The Rumps, Pentire Headland Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 2 Aug 2.15pm – 4.30pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Seaquest Seawatch – watching for dolphins etc. 3 Aug 11.00am – 1.00pm Hella Point, Porthgwarra Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Beach Clean 3 Aug 9.30am Polzeath Polzeath Marine Group
Rock Pool Explorer 3 Aug 15.00 – 17.00 St Michael’s Mount Check booking requirements with organiser. National Trust
Beach Clean 4 Aug 10.00 – 11.00 Hemmick Beach, Roseland National Trust
Strandline Treasures and Sand Sculpture Competition 4 Aug 1.00pm – 3.00pm Nr Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Seaquest Sunday – watch for dolphins etc 5 Aug 11.00am – 1.00pm Pendennis Head Falmouth Marine Group
Learn to Snorkel in a Rock Pool 6 Aug 3.00pm – 5.00pm Bude BOOKING ESSENTIAL Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Porthcurnick beach clean 6 Aug 10.00am – 11.00am Porthcurnick, Roseland National Trust
Pendower beach clean 6 Aug 2.00pm – 3.30pm Pendower, Roseland National Trust
Marine Litter Masterpieces 7 Aug 10.00am – 12.00 midday Marazion Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Crazy About Crabbing 8 Aug 09.15 – 11.30 Mevagissey Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Marine Crafts 8 Aug 10.30am – 12.30pm Polzeath Marine Centre £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Seal Squad XP Roadshow Festival 8 Aug and 9 Aug 11.00am – 4.00pm Geevor Tin Mine Included in entry to Geevor Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 9 Aug 9.15am – 11.30 am Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL National Trust
Extreme Rock Pooling 10 Aug 10.00am – 1.00pm Port Isaac BOOKING ESSENTIAL Cornish residents and over 8s only £36 per person Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Rockpool Explorer 10 Aug 10.00am -12.00 midday St Michael’s Mount Check booking requirements with organiser National Trust
Rockpool ramble 10 Aug 10.45am – 12.45am Readymoney Cove, Fowey £1.50 for non-members of Friends of Fowey Estuary Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Night time rock pooling 10 Aug 9.00pm – 11.00pm Gyllingvase, Falmouth BOOKING ESSENTIAL Falmouth Marine Group
Porth Beach Clean 11 Aug 10.00am – 1.00pm Porth, Newquay Newquay Marine Group
Rockpool Ramble 12 Aug 11.30am – 1.30pm Porthlevan BOOKING ESSENTIAL, Over 6s only Cornwall Wildlife Trust
An introduction to the rock pools 12 Aug 11.00am – 1.00pm Hannafore, Looe BOOKING ESSENTIAL Cornwall Wildlife Trust

wildlifewatch@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk

National Marine Week Summer Holiday Rockpool Ramble 12 Aug 12.30pm – 2.00pm Hannafore Looe Looe Marine Conservation Group
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 12 Aug 11.45am – 2.00pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Newquay Summer Snorkel 12 Aug 2.00pm – 4.00pm Little Fistral, Newquay Check booking arrangements with organiser. 11+ only Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 14 Aug 1.15pm – 3.30pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Polzeath Marine Crafts 15 Aug 10.30am – 12.30pm Polzeath Marine Centre £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Sandymouth Summer Rock Pool Ramble 15 Aug 1.00pm – 3.00pm Sandymouth  £1 per person. Check details with organiser National Trust
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 16 Aug 2.30pm – 4.45pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Rockpool Explorer 17 Aug 3.00pm – 5.00pm St Michael’s Mount Check booking arrangements with organiser National Trust
Sunset Beach Clean 18 Aug 7.00pm – 8.00pm Harlyn Bay
Rockpool Explorer 17 Aug 3.00pm – 5.00pm St Michael’s Mount Check booking arrangements with organiser National Trust
Fowey Marine Day 21 Aug 10.00am – 2.00pm Town Quay, Fowey Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Summer Sunset Beach Clean 21 Aug 7.00pm -8.00pm Trevone Bay Beach Guardian
Polzeath Marine Crafts 22 Aug 10.30am – 12.30pm Polzeath Marine Centre £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Rock Pool Explorer 24 Aug 10.00am – 12.00 midday St Michael’s Mount Check booking arrangements with organiser National Trust
Polzeath Rockpool Ramble 24 Aug 10.15am – 12.30pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL National Trust
Polzeath Marine Crafts 29 Aug 10.30am – 12.30pm Polzeath Marine Centre £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Summer Rock Pool Ramble at Sandymouth 29 Aug 1.00pm – 3.00pm Sandymouth  £1 per person. Check booking details with organiser National Trust
Rockpool ramble 30 Aug 1.30pm – 3.30pm Nr. Mawnan Smith BOOKING ESSENTIAL Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Polzeath Rock Pool Ramble 31 Aug 1.45pm – 4.00pm Polzeath BOOKING ESSENTIAL £2 per person Polzeath Marine Group
Rockpool Explorer 31 Aug 3.00pm – 5.00pm St Michael’s Mount Check booking arrangements with organiser National Trust
Hemmick beach clean 1 Sep 10.00am – 11.00am Hemmick beach, Roseland National Trust
Seaquest Sunday – Looking for dolphins etc. 2 Sep 11.00am – 1.00pm Pendennis Head, Falmouth Falmouth Marine Group
Porthcurnick beach clean 3 Sep 10.00 – 11.00 Porthcurnick beach, Roseland National Trust
Pendower beach 3 Sep 2.00pm – 3.30pm Pendower beach, Roseland National Trust

If you know of any other summer beach events in Cornwall this summer, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

A Night Out in the Rock Pools

Nights out tend to become a distant memory when you’re a parent. For the most part I don’t miss them. I have, however, been looking forward to Junior being old enough to join me for night time rock pooling. Towards the end of last year, we tried it for the first time and, although the conditions weren’t ideal, he’s been asking to go again ever since.

The best low tides always happen around the middle of the day, and the middle of the night, but we compromise for this first family expedition of the year, choosing a reasonable low tide at around 10.30pm. The warm, calm weather provides good opportunities for seeing nocturnal activity and tonight I’m trying out my ultraviolet (UV) torch.

It doesn’t disappoint.

Head torch at the ready - night time rock pooling is a perfect adventure
Head torch at the ready – night time rock pooling is a perfect adventure

I’ve always known that certain species glow under UV light, but I had no idea how much. We’ve barely taken ten paces out across the rocks when we see our first snakelocks anemone, shining from the darkness like an eerie green beacon. The colour is wonderfully alien.

Snakelocks anemone at night under UV light - a true alien of the Cornish rock pools
Snakelocks anemone at night under UV light – a true alien of the Cornish rock pools

This fluorescence is caused by certain proteins within the animals that take in light of one colour and emit it as another. Some deeper water species can use these properties to appear red, even though red light is filtered out as it passes through the water, meaning the only light available to underwater creatures is UV or blue.

It’s not clear why snakelocks anemones and other sea creatures might want to fluoresce in this way. It seems there may be some benefit in it for their symbiotic algae or it might give them sun protection. It may just be a by-product of a protein that’s useful in other ways. Whatever the reasons, it produces an incredible glow. Junior is already talking of coming back at Halloween.

A spooky night time rock pooling walk is definitely on the programme for this Halloweeen!
A spooky night-time rock pooling walk is definitely on the programme for this Halloweeen!

It’s not just the anemones that take our breath away. If you’re used to rock pooling in daylight when most animals are hiding away under rocks and seaweed, the sheer level of activity in after dark takes you by surprise.

A scratching, crackling sound stops us in our tracks. It’s coming from the rocks. I lift the seaweed to show Junior a group of limpets. Some are feeding, their strong radulas scouring seaweed off the rock and chipping bits of rock. Others are setting into their home scars, grinding their shells into their grooves to create a perfect fit. Close-up, their activities make a surprising amount of noise.

Limpets on their way home as the tide retreats
Limpets on their way home as the tide retreats

Most rockpool animals are largely nocturnal. Pools that seem empty in daytime become bustling cities of activity. We watch hermit crabs milling around in large numbers, crabs marauding through the pool and across the rocks, fish floating in plain sight. Prawns come towards the light and watch us before shooting away backwards.

A green shore crab looking blue in the UV light
A green shore crab looking blue in the UV light
Hermit crabs are more active at night, every pool is teeming with them
Hermit crabs are more active at night, every pool is teeming with them

Other Half spots a small species of spider crab (Macropodia sp.) decorated with long fronds of seaweed edging sideways across the pool. It’s moving too fast to take a clear photo in the poor light. The blurring makes it look even more alien.

A blurry small spider crab (Macropodia sp) moving across sand.
A blurry small spider crab (Macropodia sp) moving across sand.

A scorpion fish lies still on the sand, watching out for prey.

A scorpion fish (Taurus bubalis) hiding in plain sight.
A scorpion fish (Taurus bubalis) hiding in plain sight.

One surprise is the stunning colours of the seaweeds under the UV light. Some of the dark red seaweeds take on a far more intense, bright colour, glowing red, pink and orange. Where the top shells have worn spires, their tips glow pink.

A grey topshell on a red seaweed under UV light
A grey topshell on a red seaweed under UV light

After an hour, tiredness and cold begin to set in. We switch off our torches and take a moment to gaze at the stars before we head home to bed. Junior is already asking if we can come again the next night, and the next.

It looks like I’ll be having a few more nights out this summer.

Summer Holiday Rock Pooling Events in Cornwall – The Full List

Here it is… the 2017 list of summer rockpooling events in Cornwall during the holidays. It’s the best ever, with events to suit all the family!

Take a look below to see what’s on near you. There’s no better way to make the most of your rock pooling than to join the experts to find amazing marine creatures and learn all about them.

All you need are: some sturdy rockpooling shoes like wellies, neoprene beach shoes or wetsuit boot (not flip flops or crocs); a bucket, and sun protection.

Please check the organiser’s page carefully for the exact details and any alterations. You will need to book in advance for some of these events.

 Happy rockpooling! Maybe see you there?

FRIDAY 28TH JULY, 14.00-16.00, St Michael’s Mount. Rockpool Explorer with the National Trust https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/795f56c8-54f5-4205-acde-482402421940/pages/details

SUNDAY 6TH AUGUST, 10.00 – 12.00, St Michael’s Mount. Rockpool Explorer with the National Trust (Scroll to the bottom of the following web page for this date) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/795f56c8-54f5-4205-acde-482402421940/pages/details

MONDAY 7TH AUGUST, 12.00 – 13.30, Northcott, Bude. Hurray for Honeycomb with Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Meet at Northcott Mouth National Trust car park, Bude http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/06/hurray-honeycomb?instance=0

TUESDAY 8TH AUGUST, 11.30 – 13.30. Polzeath. Rockpool Ramble with Polzeath Marine Conservation Group and the National Trust, BOOKING ESSENTIAL https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/4d6bf7a6-558b-4e53-b1c1-3929cec9591e/pages/details

WEDNESDAY 9TH AUGUST, 11.00 – 13.00. Mousehole. St Piran’s Crab Search with Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Mousehole (Meet in Car Park, The Parade, by The Rock Pool Café) http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/06/st-pirans-crab-search?instance=0

THURSDAY 10TH AUGUST, 13.00 – 15.00. Falmouth Harbour. Horrible Beasts Up the Creek. With Cornwall Wildlife Trust. BOOKING ESSENTIAL – Falmouth – location provided on booking. http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/06/horrible-beasts-creek?instance=0

THURSDAY 10TH AUGUST, 13.00 – 15.00 Lantivet Bay. Rockpooling with the National Trust. Free no booking required https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/0916c2da-8026-4e5e-a507-5d6c413e46a0/pages/details

FRIDAY 11TH AUGUST, 13.00 – 15.00. Marazion. Strandline Scramble – looking for creatures washed up by the tide. With Cornwall Wildlife Trust. BOOKING ESSENTIAL http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/06/strandline-scramble?instance=0

FRIDAY 11TH AUGUST, 14.00-16.00. St Michael’s Mount Causeway. Rockpool Explorer with the National Trust. (Scroll to the bottom of the following web page for this date) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/795f56c8-54f5-4205-acde-482402421940/pages/details

SATURDAY 12TH AUGUST, 14.30 – 16.00. Hannafore, Looe. Rock Pool Ramble with Looe Marine Conservation Group http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2016/12/23/summer-holiday-rockpool-ramble?instance=0

MONDAY 14TH AUGUST, 15.00 – 17.00 Polzeath, Rock Pooling and Beach Games with Wild Thymes. BOOKING ESSENTIAL http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/26/rock-pooling-and-beach-fun-wild-thymes?instance=0

SATURDAY 19TH AUGUST, 21.30 – 23.30. Durgan. Night Time Rock Pooling with Cornwall Wildlife Trust. BOOKING ESSENTIAL – No children under 12. http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/06/night-rockpooling?instance=0

SUNDAY 20TH AUGUST, 10.00-12.00. St Michael’s Mount Causeway. Rockpool Explorer with the National Trust. (Scroll to the bottom of the following web page for this date) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/795f56c8-54f5-4205-acde-482402421940/pages/details

MONDAY 21ST AUGUST, 11.00-13.00. Polzeath. Rockpool Ramble with Polzeath Marine Conservation Group and National Trust. BOOKING ESSENTIAL (Scroll to the bottom of the page for this date) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/4d6bf7a6-558b-4e53-b1c1-3929cec9591e/pages/details

TUESDAY 22ND AUGUST, 11.00 – 13.00. Polzeath. Radical Rockpooling with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Polzeath Marine Conservation Group. BOOKING ESSENTIAL – Children over 11 only. http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/26/radical-rock-pooling?instance=0

WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST, 11.00 – 13.00. Hannafore, Looe. Rockpool Safari Time with Fox Club, Junior branch of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. BOOKING ESSENTIAL http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/05/rockpool-safari-time?instance=0

WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST, 12.30 – 14.30. Camel (Location available on booking). Rockpool Ramble with Fox Club, Junior branch of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. BOOKING ESSENTIAL http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/04/20/rockpool-ramble?instance=0

THURSDAY 24TH AUGUST, 13.00 – 15.00. Polzeath. Rock Pool Ramble with Polzeath Marine Conservation Group BOOKING ESSENTIAL  http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2017/01/26/rock-pool-ramble?instance=4

FRIDAY 25TH AUGUST, 14.00-16.00. St Michael’s Mount Causeway. Rockpool Explorer with the National Trust. (Scroll to the bottom of the following web page for this date) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/795f56c8-54f5-4205-acde-482402421940/pages/details

Can’t see your event? Please let me know of any additions or alterations to this list and I’ll be delighted to share them.

Rock Pooling and Marine Events in Cornwall this Summer

The summer holidays are a great time to explore the Cornish rock pools. What better way to discover the crabs, fish, starfish, anemones and a host of other animals found around our shores than to join a guided event? You’ll have the experts on hand to tell you all about the animals and how they live and as part of a group, you’ll get to see everyone’s finds.

Here’s a summary of rockpooling and marine events this summer, which are all listed on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust events pages.

If you can’t make it to a group event, my pages on how to rockpool will help you make the most of your trip. Just click on beaches tab above to find a great rockpooling location near you.

Please check the organiser’s site for full details, any booking requirements and changes before attending. In all cases, children must be accompanied by an adult and wear suitable weather protection and footwear.

JULY

 24 July – Family Rock Pool Explore at Kingsand. 11.00. Booking essential for this fun rockpooling event for 5-11 year olds with Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Cost: £1 donation to Fox Club.

26 July – Seaweeds and Seaweed Pressing with Angie Gall at Trebah Garden, Helford. 10.00 – 12.30. Booking essential. Suitable for all ages, this workshop is a great chance to meet an expert and learn about seaweeds. Organised by Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Association.

28 July – Helford Snorkel Safari. Details available on booking – booking essential. A chance for experienced snorkelers and confident swimmers age 8+ to enjoy a guided one-hour snorkel with local experts from Cornwall Wildlife Trust. £5.

29 July – Get Crafty at Polzeath. 10.30 – 12.30. Marine themed arts and crafts with the Polzeath Marine Conservation Group at the Marine Centre in Polzeath. £2 per person (free for members).

31 July – Rockpool Ramble at Cape Cornwall. 11.00 – 13.00 with the experts from Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

31 July – Carnival Rockpool Ramble at Hannafore Beach, West Looe. 11.30 – 13.00. Join the Looe Marine Conservation Group experts to explore the shore during Looe’s Carnival week.

31 July – Rockpool Ramble at Spit Beach, Par. 11.30 – 13.30. Join the experts from the Friends of the Fowey Estuary to explore the shore. £2.50 for non-members.

31 July – Rockpool Ramble at Polzeath. 11.30 – 13.30. Booking essential. Join the Polzeath Marine Conservation experts to explore the shore. £2 for non-members.

 

AUGUST

 2 August – Rockpool Photography at Durgan on the Helford 14.00 – 16.00. Booking essential. Suitable for families. Find out how to get great shots using your basic camera including phone cameras.

3 August – Beach Treasure Trail near Newquay. 13.00 – 15.00. Booking essential. A fun trail using a treasure map for primary aged children – collect natural materials along the way.

3 August – Beach Treasure Trail near Crantock. 13.00 – 15.00. Booking essential. A fun trail using a treasure map for primary aged children – collect natural materials along the way.

4 August – Rockpool Ramble at Swanpool, Falmouth. 14.30 – 16.30. Explore the shore with experts from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

5th August – Wild Wednesdays Seashore Shenanigans nr The Lizard – 14.00 – 16.00. Rockpooling for primary aged children with the Wild Lizard Ranger. Contact claire.scott@nationaltrust.org.uk for further details.

5 August – Beach Art fun with Frugi on The Lizard at Kennack Sands. 14.00 – 16.00. Beach art for all the family with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Team and with Prizes from Frugi children’s clothes.

12 August – Wild Wednesdays Seashore Shenanigans nr The Lizard. 10.00 -12.00. Rockpooling for primary aged children with the Wild Lizard Ranger. Contact claire.scott@nationaltrust.org.uk for further details.

14 August – Mad About Mud at West Looe. 11.00 – 14.00. Booking essential. Join experts from Looe Marine Conservation Group and the Friends of Kilminorth Wood to discover the marine life of the Looe estuary. Suitable for all ages.

16 August – Public Sea Watch near Tintagel. 11.00 – 14.00. Look out for seals, basking sharks, sunfish, dolphins and other marine life with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust experts.

17 August – Beach Games near Newquay. 12.00 – 14.00. Booking essential. Learn about sea creatures then become them as you complete fun games and activities. For primary age children.

17 August – Newquay evening boat safari. 18.00 – 20.00. Booking essential. Discover the coastal and marine wildlife of Newquay with local expert Dave Thomas – birds, seals and more.

18 August – Fowey Marine Day at Fowey Town Quay. 10.00 – 16.00. A day of fun activities including meeting huge crabs with Friends of Fowey Estuary and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

19 August – Wild Wednesdays Seashore Shenanigans nr The Lizard – 14.00 – 16.00. Rockpooling for primary aged children with the Wild Lizard Ranger. Contact claire.scott@nationaltrust.org.uk for further details.

24-28 August – Seaquest South West Road Show – at various locations. The Seaquest Southwest team will be touring the county, providing nformation, games and activities to teach people about whales, dolphins, sunfish, seals and basking sharks. Details available on request from seaquest@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk

26 August – Wild Wednesdays Seashore Shenanigans nr The Lizard. 14.00 -16.00. Rockpooling for primary aged children with the Wild Lizard Ranger. Contact claire.scott@nationaltrust.org.uk for further details.

29 August – Seashore Forage and Feast at Poltesco nr The Lizard. 10.30 – 14.30. Booking essential. Suitable for children aged 7+. Explore the shore, learn what’s edible and join the rangers to cook over a fire. £5 per child, £10 per adult – includes foraged lunch. http://www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/whatson/events_pages/Seashore_forage_and_feast_near_The_Lizard

 29 August – Rummage in a rockpool nr Penzance. 11.30 – 13.30. Booking essential. Join Cornwall Wildlife Trust experts to explore the shore. Suitable for primary aged children.

Have fun! If you know of other events please contact me and I’ll add them – and don’t forget to let me know what wildlife you find this summer.

A Cornish clingfish, Lepadogaster lepadogaster
A Cornish clingfish, Lepadogaster lepadogaster

 

 

 

A very British beach picnic.

It’s bank holiday Monday and, by rights, the beaches should be packed with tourists, but this is a British bank holiday complete with the standard issue of drizzle and greyness. We seem to be the only people who’ve come for a picnic today.

A very un-summery bank holiday at Plaidy beach near Looe
A very un-summery bank holiday at Plaidy beach near Looe

Cornish Rock Pools junior and his Dad undertake mega-engineering projects on the stream while I explore the rock pools, eager to put my new camera through its paces.

Pleased to meet you! A broad-clawed porcelain crab extends a claw. Cornish Rock Pools
Pleased to meet you! A broad-clawed porcelain crab extends a claw.

It seems that the wildlife has also gone to ground, as though the animals have moved further out to sea during the heavy rains. The regulars are still here though, lurking in the murky water.

Green shore crabs abound among the rocks.
Green shore crabs abound among the rocks.

Under almost every rock there are young edible crabs shunting sand over themselves while larger green shore crabs run for cover.

Netted dog whelk egg capsules
Netted dog whelk egg capsules

In a pool that threatens to over-top my wellies, I find a pheasant shell going about its business. I can barely see it in the silty water as it makes its way along the red seaweed. Under the camera, its neat maroon stripes become more visible and I can see its tentacles flopping over the edge of the weed.

A pheasant shell undeterred by the silty water
A pheasant shell undeterred by the silty water

A grey heron is fishing in the farthest pools. As the waves begin to slosh up the gulley, a cormorant flies in and takes up position behind the heron, where it stays for the next half hour. I hunt the mid-shore for the ever illusive starfish, Asterina phylactica.

The first Asterina phylactica starfish I find is especially tiny.
The first Asterina phylactica starfish I find is especially tiny.

The first of these minute starfish I find is so small that I can barely see it among the weed. It moves remarkably quickly, sliding round the branching tuft of pink coralline seaweed and disappearing from view each time I try to focus on it.

Other half sidles over and asks about the sandwiches. I realise I’ve been staring into this pool for way too long and somehow I’ve managed to soak my fringe and my coat sleeves in my enthusiasm, but I’m not quite ready to give up. Eventually I’m rewarded by finding a larger, brighter specimen, which I photograph with numb fingers.

A slightly larger, more brightly coloured Asterina phylactica starfish.
A slightly larger, more brightly coloured Asterina phylactica starfish.

 

Asterina phylactica starfish - well worth the time spent searching.
Asterina phylactica starfish – well worth the time spent searching.

The drizzle sets in properly as we begin our picnic. Cornish Rock Pools junior builds a shelter under his Dad’s coat and happily munches on sandwiches and biscuits. I flex my fingers and am just beginning to sense the return of some sort of blood flow when I remember the bucket. I definitely had it and now I don’t. Other half and I mount a search party, but he heroically sends me back to the chocolate digestives while he continues the hunt.

Cornish Rock Pools junior makes his picnic shelter.
Cornish Rock Pools junior makes his picnic shelter.

After several long minutes of searching, the tide and mist closing around him, he lifts the bucket aloft and junior and I clap and cheer with our mouths full.

Red bucket is saved!
Red bucket is saved!

Soon the cliffs are disappearing in the fog and the rain sets in properly. As the oystercatchers sweep in, we hastily pack up our very British picnic and leave the beach completely deserted.

A snakelocks anemone among the sea lettuce.
A snakelocks anemone among the sea lettuce.

Pirate Rock Pooling Adventure

The leaves are turning, the swallows are no longer dipping over the rock pools, but this long, warm Cornish summer never seems to end. We set sail from Hannafore over a barely rippling sea in the good ship Red Canoe to seek secret beaches, pirate caves and, of course, photos of interesting marine creatures. Continue reading Pirate Rock Pooling Adventure