Latest Shore Safari - A cutie and the beast stole the show at Westward Ho!

A cutie and the beast stole the show at Westward Ho! on 31st August, the last shore safari of a very busy and successful summer season that engaged about 1000 people in Coastwise events.  

This the second visit of the season south of the estuary attracted plenty of Coastwise members, and thanks to extensive publicity by local member John Broomhead, an excellent turnout of visitors, mainly families on holiday.  Parents and children proved to be delightfully attentive.  After an introductory talk from Jim Monroe, the Shore Safari project leader, the visitors were encouraged to range over the broad expanse of rocky shore exposed at a good low tide and share their finds for identification by Coastwise guides including Marjorie and Brian Heath seen here with three young enthusiasts.

Many of the smaller animals were brought back to tanks mid shore for closer inspection  to the delight of the children.  .  Some animals were simply too big.  Spider Crabs, which have been a regular feature of the summer safaris, are large enough to excite awe undisturbed.  The 20+cm Shore Rockling, caught by Clive Symons lurking in a shallow pool, was shown round quickly, so people could see the unusual inset dorsal fin, apparently “tasting” the water  by its constant rippling, before being returned.

As for the cutie and the beast: in a fitting finale the hermit crab in our temporary tank threw its kit off, appearing to step out of its shell yet leave itself behind.  It had shed its entire carapace thrusting it out whilst remaining within the safety of its whelk shell home, under the watchful eyes of Janice Whittingon, delighted at this unusual sighting.  The role of beast fell to a brown Snakelocks Anemone that, as we watched, ensnared a small blenny in its tentacles, subdued it, and drew it into its column to be digested - a disconcerting but valuable reminder of the imperatives of the marine food chain.

Though this was the last of the big public shore safaris for the season, Coastwise will start its regular winter weekly programme of talks on 6th October, running until March, and undertake occasional beach monitoring, birding and field visits for members.  Why not join us?

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