Tag Archives: rock pool

The One That Got Away… Cuttlefish in a Cornish Rock Pool

If you’ve ever been rockpooling, you’ll know the feeling: you’re in the zone, bottom high, head down, lifting a rock or staring into the water when a movement catches your eye. While you’re registering that it’s some interesting creature you’ve never found before, said creature is darting away under an overhang or boulder never to be seen again.

My camera is full of “things that were there only a millisecond before”.

Not the most accomplished photo of a Greater pipefish as long as my arm!
Not the most accomplished photo of a Greater pipefish as long as my arm!

So, you’ll have to take my word for it that I finally encountered an animal I’ve been longing to find in a pool. After four decades of failure, my big moment came while I was taking some friends rock pooling this week. Continue reading The One That Got Away… Cuttlefish in a Cornish Rock Pool

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February Half Term Rock Pooling in Cornwall

February is an amazing time in the Cornish rock pools. Spring is coming and all sorts of fish, sea slugs and other creatures are moving onto the shore. Rock pooling is free, fun and exciting for all ages, so why not wrap up warm this half-term and head for the beach?

When?

There are some great low tides on Saturday 11th, Sunday 12th and Monday 13th February around lunch time. Check the tide times for your local area before you go.

Aim to start one to two hours before low tide as it’s safest to rock pool on an outgoing tide. Keep an eye out for the tide and always stay away from surging waves.

Join a Guided Event

Looe Marine Conservation Group will be running a free rockpooling event at Hannafore Beach, West Looe, on Wednesday 15th February at 13.30. All welcome!

Joining a guided event is the very best way to discover marine wildlife. Experts (including me!) will be on hand to help you find and identify the crabs, fish, shells, starfish and more. At the end of the session you’ll be able to meet everyone’s best finds in the ‘Shore Laboratory’ and find out how the animals live and how to conserve them.

(If anyone know of any other rock pooling events on this half-term, please let me know and I’ll list them here).

Cornish Rock Pools - spider crab at Looe rockpool ramble
Cornish Rock Pools – spider crab at Looe rockpool ramble

Where?

Any beach with some sheltered rockpools will do. There are lots all around Cornwall – some of my favourites can be found under the beaches tab at the top of this page.

What to do…

The shore can be very exposed, so make sure you’re well wrapped up and waterproofed. Your feet will get wet so wellies are essential.

Otherwise, all you need is a tub and/or bucket (please don’t use nets as these harm delicate animals). A camera and species guide are useful.

Head for the lower shore (keeping a safe distance from the sea’s edge) and go slowly, looking in shaded, wet areas like pools.

Under rocks and seaweed are great places to look, but move them gently and always return them to how you found them.

Read my guide to rockpooling to discover how to find lots of amazing creatures and keep them and you safe. You can also find out how to pick up a crab.

What you might find…

Even in the depths of winter the rock pools are full of life. In February spring is just round the corner and lots of animals will be moving in for the breeding season.

Expect to see crabs, fish, anemones, sea snails, prawns, starfish and perhaps even a sea slug – these little creatures come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours.

Facelina annulicornis- a rather lovely sea slug
Facelina annulicornis- a rather lovely sea slug

To help you identify your finds, I’ve produced guides to crabs, fish, starfish and shells.

If you need help identifying something, take a photo if possible and get in touch through my contact page, Facebook or Twitter. I love seeing your finds.

Happy Half-Term Rockpooling!

Strawberry anemones on a partly submerged rock
Strawberry anemones on a partly submerged rock

 

 

 

 

Stormy weather in the Cornish rock pools

Rockpooling in stormy winter weather can be a risky business here in Cornwall, so my advice is … don’t. At best you get blown over on the slippery rocks and soaked by rain that seems to come in horizontally and go right up your nose. At worst you could end up in the path of the fierce waves and currents. It’s not worth it.

When there’s a calm moment and a good tide (I’m hoping tomorrow will be such a day), there’s plenty to see in the rockpools. Between times, stick to the strandline, where the sea throws up all sorts of treasures and unexpected visitors.

Mauve stinger jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca) at Mawgan Porth
Mauve stinger jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca) at Mawgan Porth

One of my favourites this year was the swarm of mauve stinger jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca). They look small and inoffensive, measuring up to 10cm across their bell. The spotted pattern that gives them their name is distinctive and rather pretty. They can also glow in the dark – noctiluca means night light. Continue reading Stormy weather in the Cornish rock pools

Searching for Starfish

We’ve been planning this trip since our visitors first came to Cornwall a year ago. They’re determined to try rock pooling having missed out last time. This week the tides are perfect. They live near the sea back home in Essex, but they tell me it’s not the same and I can well believe it.

They’ve never seen a starfish in the wild before. My mission is clear.

Getting stuck in to Cornish rock pooling
Getting stuck in to Cornish rock pooling

With picnic and buckets in hand, we set out, treading gingerly over seaweed and searching among the rocks. Within minutes, our friends are putting yesterday’s hasty tutorial on crabs into practice as they try picking them up safely. They score top marks on this and on working out whether the crabs are male or female from the shape of their tails. We find several species of crustacean, including this large squat lobster.

A squat lobster - galathea squamifera
A squat lobster – galathea squamifera

While our visitors search the shallow pools, finding anemones, fish, prawns and hermit crabs, Other Half and I walk out through slippery gullies towards the sea with Junior, taking photos and collecting interesting creatures for our visitors to see. I find a small rock with a beautiful covering of star ascidian. Continue reading Searching for Starfish

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 Shark in the Rockpools: Hannafore, Cornwall

Fish often become trapped in the shallows during exceptionally low tides, even big fish like mullet and wrasse, but it’s the first time I’ve met an adult shark on a rockpooling trip.

It’s been a cold but productive afternoon and I’m about to head home to defrost my painfully frozen fingers when a movement in the kelp around ten metres away grabs my attention. Continue reading A Shark in the Rockpools: Hannafore, Cornwall