Monday, 12 September 2016

Shoresearch Week 2016

Join Marine Biologists and volunteers from Cornwall Wildlife Trusts Shoresearch project on their annual Shoresearch Week surveying the shore at all five of Cornwall's Voluntary Marine Conservation Zones! This year the Week will cover even more marine areas as we are teaming up with Capturing our Coast SW who are also running surveys across Devon and Cornwall.  Part of #SW_MPA_Project 
We welcome anyone who is keen to learn and to improve their shore species identification.  skills to come along. This is different to a standard rockpool ramble in that we have a limited amount of time to record as many species as we can! Its not suitable for under 11's and all under 18's must be accompanied by an adult

You can come along to as many as you like - all are epic locations and we will be taking advantage of some incredibly low tides!
Friday 16th Sept St Agnes meet at 10.30am - on the slipwqay at Trevaunance cove
Saturday 17th Sept Helford - meet at 10.30 on road to Mawanan Church just before the church!
Sunday 18th Sept Looe- meet at 11.30am at Hannafore Point (near toilets)
Monday 19th Sept Polzeath Meet at 12.30pm at Polzeath Marine Centre
Tuesday 20th Sept Fowey Meet at Readymoney Cove at 1.30pm

Please email to book a place and for more details, for more info on our project visit
You can also find us and like us on Facebook at our page @Shoresearch Cornwall

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Shoresearch Cornwall Spring Highlights 2016

Rare hermit crab rediscovered in Cornwall!! 

Shoresearch at Castle Beach Falmouth
Thanks to massive spring tides our spring surveys went really well this year. We welcomed and trained lots of new volunteers and ran some very successful surveys. At Polridmouth near Fowey we recorded two species of rare stalked jellyfish and found our first crystal gobies!
At Castle beach we ran a very well attended public rockpool ramble and a Shoresearch led by our volunteers Patrick D'Arcy Evans and Sue Scott. Massive highlight of this day was when Adrian Rowlands brought over a bucket of tiny crabs etc and within it there was one that looked different!
It turned out to be a rare species Clibanarius erythropus - a warm water hermit crab not seen in the UK in significant numbers since 1967.  A population did exsist in Cornwall  in the 1960's (First discovered by trustee of Cornwall wildlife Trust Dr Nick Tregenza when he was a teenager!) Small populations existed  back then at Mousehole, Mounts bay and at wembury in south devon. These gregarious crabs dissapeared sadly from our shores after the Torrey Canyon oil Spill of 1967,  possibly killed off by strong chemicals used to clear the oil. #
Rediscovering such an awesome little creature was incredibly exiting!! Lots more photos and information can be found on our facebook page , and on our website here
Since then the species has been discovered at several sites around Cornwall including in Mounts bay by David Fenwick, at Porthleven by Paul Gainey, at Mousehoe on the next shorsearch survey and at Trenow near Perranuthnoe. One has even been found on the north Coast on a survey led by volunteers from Coastwise north Devon.
It is really exciting that this species which is at the northern edge of its distribution has clearly had a significant recruitment last year and may now be here to stay! It is a shame it doesn't have a good common name yet. In Stella Turks book Seashore Life In Cornwall published in 1971 she refers to them as European hermit crabs but I cant help thinking that there must be a more appropriate name we could give them!

BBC Springwatch have been down to Falmouth to cover the story and Marine officer Matt Slater helped them find the crabs - It wasn't easy but after 3 hours searching, right in the nick of time Matt found three specimens!
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This year we are also running a series of extreme eco events where we have enlisted the help of coasteering companies and Stand up paddle boarding companies to help us run a series of more challenging and possibly more engaging surveys in areas which are harder to access. Our survey of the reef at Polzeath called Cowrie reef was the first in this series. We really enjoyed working with the highly knowledgeable staff at Cornish Rock Tors and it was a great survey. I am really looking forward to visiting this shore again to do some snorkelling in the rockpools there which were amazing!
Ben Spicer of Cornish Rock Tors sharing his passion for the shore!
Ben and Hugo from Cornish Rock Tors invited a small group of us to visit the caves they regularly explore at Port Gaverne, this is an environment you would not be able to survey without specialist help! It was a great day with lots of swimming, rock climbing and jumping into the water. We were privileged to have been shown a huge cave called shrimp cave and inside it were very rare scarlet and gold cup corals!
Photo by Thomas Daguerre - Hydromotion Media

We were also taken on a rockpooling session with a difference by Karl Thompson of Newquay Activity Centre who showed us a fascinating stretch of coastline at Newquays Towan headland, and area known as the Gazzle with incredible caves full of baked bean seasquirts, tompot blennies in the cracks in the rocks, It was an amazing day and 80 marine species were recorded!
Exporing the Tea caves at Newquay headland 
With lots more Shoreserach surveys and extreme eco events planned for this year  all are welcome to get involved and survey the shore! To be added to the shoresearch email list so you will be kept up to date please email 
for a full list of events for this year visit

Broad Clawed Porcelain crab photographed at a shoresearch survye at Trevone, Mounts Bay

Friday, 22 January 2016

Shoresearch Dates for 2016 announced!

Dear Shoresearchers
I hope you are all well!
With wild and windy weather its not been the greatest winter for rockpooling but the sea hasn't cooled down much this year and I'm sure we will find loads of life on our next shoresearch survey day coming up soon!
on the 21st February at Polridmouth Cove near Fowey.  Here is the full list for 2016, as usual I include rockpool ramble days organised by our fabulous marine conservation groups around the county- these are not specifically shoresearch events but they are great opportunities for you all to brush up your knowledge, help out and very importantly for you to record what you find and fill in a Shoresearch form!!

Summary of Shoresearch Cornwall Dates 2016
Dates in bold are organised by Matt Slater and will include an organised Shoresearch survey and training, all other are events where Shoresearchers are welcome to help out and carry out own independent surveys, many of which being organised by local marine conservation groups (MCG’s).

21st Feb, Sun, Polridmouth beach near Fowey,  9am,  Public event and Shoresearch
27th Feb, Sat,  Newquay, 9am,  Your Shore Conference, booking essential 
12th March, Sat, Castle beach Falmouth,  1pm, Public event and Shoresearch
12th March, Sat,  Looe, 1pm,  Rocky shore identification introduction with Amelia bridges, Looe MCG
26th March, Sat, Mousehole, 11am at Mousehole harbour (south end) volunteers training
6th April, Wed, Polzeath,  10am, Extreme Rockpooling  booking essential via matt
8th April, Friday, Fowey, Readymoney,  12.30pm, rockpool ramble with Friends of Fowey Estuary
8th April, Friday, Looe, Hannafore, 12.45pm, Rockpool Ramble Looe MCG
10th April, Sunday, Helford Passage, 1pm,  Crabs and critters, ramble, book; Helford MCG
23rd and 24th April, Trebah gardens,  CWT Wildlife Celebration – with informal rockpooling
7th May, Sat, Trenow (nr Perranuthnoe), 10am, Shoresearch survey and training vols only
8th May, Sun, Newquay, 12noon, Eco Coasteering with Karl and Matt  £27pp book: 01637 877722
8th May, Sun,  Looe, 1pm  Seaweed and its uses, Looe marine conservation group
2nd June, Thurs, Polzeath, 10am – 4pm Marine Discovery day – public rockpooling 1st thing
4th June, Sat, Looe, Hannafore- 11.15am, Public Rockpooling with Looe MCG
5th June, Sun, St Agnes Marine Discovery day, 10am -3pm, public event with rockpooling
21st June, Thurs, Polzeath, 11.30, Easy access rockpooling, Polzeath MCG booking essential
2nd and 3rd July, Lundy Bay nr Polz, 1pm 24hr Bioblitz all welcome, National Trust and Shoresearch
6th July, Wed, Gweek, 5pm -8pm SUP tour of Helford Estuary, £27 pp, book 0447801438320
26th July, Tues,  snorkel in a rockpool, for 6-11 year olds only £5pp, booking contact Matt Slater
1st August Monday, Polzeath, 10am, Public rockpooling with Polz MCG and National Trust
3rd August, Wednesday, Mounts bay, 10am, Eco SUP and snorkelling £27pp   0447801438320
4th August, Polzeath 12.30, Public Rockpooling with Polz MCG and National Trust
4th August, Thurs, Newquay 11am, Extreme rockpooling, with Matt £5pp booking essential
5th August, Friday, Spit Beach, Par, 1.30pm Rockpool ramble with Friends of Fowey estuary
5th August, Friday, Looe, 1.45pm, Rockpool ramble with Looe Marine Conservation Group
5th August. Port Gaverne, 1.30pm Baby lobster release with National Lobster Hatchery and PMCG
18th August, thurs, Polzeath, 11am, Rockpool Ramble, Polzeath Marine Conservation Group, and NT
21st August, Sunday, Prisk Cove, Helford, 11am, Rockpool Ramble with CWT’s  Ruth Williams, HMCG
22nd August, Mon, Polzeath, 2pm, Rockpool Ramble, Polzeath Marine Conservation Group and NT
2nd September, Friday, Polzeath, 12noon, Rockpool Ramble, PMCG and NT
16th September, Friday, St Agnes, SHORESEARCH WEEK! BIG TIDES details TBC
17th September, Saturday, Helford, SHORESEARCH WEEK! BIG TIDES details TBC
18th September, Sunday, Looe, SHORESEARCH WEEK! BIG TIDES details TBC
19th September, Monday, Polzeath, SHORESEARCH WEEK! BIG TIDES details TBC
20th September, Tuesday, Fowey, SHORESEARCH WEEK! BIG TIDES details TBC
18th October, Tuesday, 9am -4pm, Falmouth, Crustacean Workshop, ERCCIS £40pp
28th October, Looe, 10.30am, Rockpool ramble with Looe Marine Conservation Group
30th October, Fowey, Readymoney cove,10.30am, Rockpool ramble with friends of Fowey Estuary
13th November, Last Shoresearch of the year – location TBC

Please check Cornwall Shoresearch on facebook, and the facebook pages and websites of local groups for more details on any of the above dates nearer the time. Or email

Monday, 2 November 2015

Revisiting my childhood shore... Swanpool

For the last Cornwall Wildlife Trust Shoresearch survey of the year we headed to a shore which I spent many happy hours as a child exploring. I was very lucky to have grown up a short walk from Swanpool beach, Falmouth and the rockpools were my playground!  It was great to see that the shore is still just as rich with life.

Alongside the survey we were also running a family public event which was really well attended - the beauty of this shore is that it is easily accessed and despite being seriously rummaged about in on a daily basis by local kids and holiday makers the area seems to cope with it incredibly well and is probably so productive thanks to seaweeds being cast up from further off shore and nutrients coming from Swanpool lake. Every boulder was home to several small edible crabs, broad clawed porcelain crabs and huge numbers of worm pipefish! The children and adults really enjoyed it! Good to see old Falmouth friends Nick and Sophie and their kids and Vicky and her daughter!

One thing that has changed is that there are now (Xantho sp) pebble crabs to be found - not as many as on some shores (perhaps this is because the freshwater input favors shore crabs) but both species Montagus and Rissos were found. We also found a really cool Sea Lemon - in a nice bright orange colour.

After a good rummage under the rocks we headed a little further North along the coast and eagle eyed shoresearcher Liz Barker called me over to look at something she described as looking like a cow pat stuck to the rock. It was a large patch of jelly like dark green velvety seaweed - Something I have only seen before in books called Codium adhaerans. It is a relatively rare find it turns out. According to Dr Paul Gainey (my old biology teacher and legendary local biological recorder) it has been recored at Nare head and Prisk cove but never before at Swanpool. It is a species at the northern end of its distribution and one that seems to come and go! It was very exciting!
Liz and her cowpat

Codium adhaerans - similar to velvet fingers seaweed but covering the rocks

Patrick D'Arcy Evans is now on a roll with his stalked jelly spotting and he found a fine example of Lecnariopsis campanulata - a delicate tiny stalked jellyfish which is a Biodiversity action plan species.

A couple of young biologists, Christophe and Natalie, studying at University of Exeter, Tremough campus who joined us for the first time found some really cool stuff - firstly some tiny mites which are so small I definitely would not have spotted them - in the photo you can see how small they are!

According to David Fenwick of you would need a scanning electron microscope to identify them so maybe we wont be able to do that!  They also found this beautiful sea beech plantlet growing on the edge of one of many beautiful corraline algae rich pools.

Overall it was a great survey and a fitting end to a great year! Please get in touch if you would like to recieve my update emails and look out for next years programme coming soon (fingers crossed!)

Cystoceira nodousm - there are lots of beautiful Cystoceira seaweeds growing in the pools here. Some I couldn't identify!

another shot of the stalked jellyfish. 

Corrallina officinalis ,   coral weed growing luxuriantly on the edge of the pools

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Shoresearch Week 2015 Day 5, Readymoney Cove Fowey

The last day of our Shoresearch week  - I was getting tired but the enthusiasm of the shoresearch volunteers and members of Friends of Fowey estuary kept me going!! Sadly my camera died - five days of being dunked in rockpools finished it off!! Its a shame as I have been so pleased with the photos that camera has been producing!  Thanks to Rob and Claire for sharing their photos from the day with me!
It is rare to get this low on the shore at Fowey - this gulley is teeming with life but it is very slippery! Photo by Claire Hoddinott

Lots of my favourte little crab - Broad clawed porcelain crab  Porcellana platycheles Photo Claire Hoddinott

We found alot of this red algae - creating fluffy lumps on a north facing reef - it is a non native Caulacanthus oakmuridae and one that we need to be monitoring.

Claire found this starfish literally hanging out - pretending to be spider man! 

a cup coral - probably Carophyllia smithii but not looking very healthy was found by Margaret. Phil Croxton found another one on the North side of the beach too. 

Lots of this Desmaretsia was found at Readymoney - mainly cast up from deeper by the easterly swell- the common name for this is landladies wig as earlier in the year is is all fluffy and hairy - it took a while to identify! 

Here is the holdfast

Claire and Margaret getting stuck into shore identification! 
For more infomation on Foweys amazing wildife visit the Friends of the Fowey Estuary website.

Shoresearch week 2015 day 4, Prisk Cove, Helford, Highlights in Photos

Discovery of the day a rarely recorded species of hermit crab Pagurus forbesii

very different colour to a common hermit 

He has a distinctive shaped wide claw which acts like a front door and is right handed! 

Beautiful bright green juvenile Ballan wrasse -Labrus bergylta

Ballan wrasse in very different colour variety

Butterfish portrait

Chameleon prawn Hippolyte varians - they can quickly change colour - look for a spike on the top of the rostrum -diagnostic feature

Tiny queen scallop Chlamys varia

Underboulder life - cushion starfish Asterina gibbosa and a small sea ghurkin Pawsonia saxicola

Closeup of a Green sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris
After years of trying Patrick has finally got his eye in and he found two stalked jellyfish in shallow weed filled gullies. here is a Haliclustus octoradiatus - a rarely recorded species in many areas of the UK

And Patrick  also found this Haliclystus octoradiatus growing on Sargassum weed.

Berthella plumula - a really cool sea slug - common name - plumed bertha! this one was approx 20mm but they can grow bigger.

A strange worm found beneath the shore - its undulating movement was very bizzare! I have a video...

Im not very good on identifying Chitons - they are cool animals though - a segmented gastropod, next to it is a pink rayed limpet Tectura virginea- the first I had seen size approx 10mm

Heres another - Perhaps a chiton expert out there will let us know what we were looking at!!

Unusually pale colour form of Rissos Crab Xantho pilipes

And two more colour varieties - they are much more variable than their cousins the Montagu's crabs
But my favorite was this juvenile Xantho pilipes which was only approx one centimetre across the shell! 

Rivularia atra - a rarely seen blue green algae - was abundant on open rock on the mid shore on the edge of the gully

Shore rockling with some harpoon weed

And just so the seaweed people don't feel left out here is a nice cockscomb! 
 Visit the Helford Marine Conservation group website for more info on this fabulous local marine volunteers group