Sunday, 20 June 2010

Rock-pool

It's always a treat to do a little 'rock-pooling' when at the beach. Nowhere is this more productive than around the rocky coasts of the West Country. Along the cliff bottoms at Newquay, we found these small, red, glossy jelly-like blobs just clear of the water.
It isn't until the water level rises and they are once more submerged, that they reveal their true identity...
These are Beadlet Anemones (Actinia equina) and is very well adapted to life in the rock pools, an environment which can be very harsh. The water becomes more and more salty as it evaporates and it gets warmer and warmer in the sunshine, then, suddenly the tide comes back in and a wave inundates the pool which immediately reduces the salinity and the temperature. Not an easy place to live. This Anemone seemed to be busy devouring a small jellyfish..
Among the Mussels clinging to the rocks, were a few Dog Whelks (Nucella lapillus). These molluscs are predatory and feed on the Mussels by boring holes through their shells with a specialised, rasping radula (a tongue-like structure) before eating the soft bits within.
Also looking for a feed, was the largest breeding seabird to be seen around British Isles. The Gannet (Morus bassanus, formerly Sula bassana) is an impressive bird with a wingspan of up to 6ft, a formidable bill and an orange-tinted head. It is even more impressive as it dives for fish from a great height, folding it's wings back as it enters the water at about 60 MPH. This lone bird was circling around looking for fish as we enjoyed the view and the sunshine, sitting on a bench overlooking the Fistral Beach. Nothing better!
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