Small and Beautiful

A bright green sea slug with iridescent blue spots should be easy to see in a rock-pool, but it is not and it took Malcolm Robert’s keen eye to spot one during the Coastwise visit to Croyde for Paul Madgett’s shore profile.  The small slug, less than 40mm, was found on the upper shore in a  shallow pool fringed with gutweed and other seaweeds with which it blended well.

Since then Rob Jutsum has returned to photograph the slug, Elysia viridis, which has come in numbers to mate and lay its eggs, a total of about 20 were found in all.

They were not the only beauties to be seen.  Under the small flat stones in the rock-pools there were tiny cushion stars, Asterina phylactica, in ones and twos and sometimes small clusters, presumably drawn together for the same purpose, reproduction. 

These upper shore rock-pools were full of life, with snails, prawns, small crabs and chitons plentiful.  Paula Ferris collected samples of the Corallina turf that fringed many of the pools and found them rich in microscopic organisms, including brittlestars only a few millimeters in diameter, sea spiders, and bryozoans.  Other animals she has yet to identify included two exquisite luminous yellow sea snails, about 1mm long.   All were photographed whenever possible and returned to the sea.

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