During July Coastwise members took to the shore equipped with lines and quadrats to count plants and animals under the expert guidance of Pip Jollands from the Hallsannery Centre. For the fourth year running they were taking part in “Shore Thing”, the national monitoring scheme run by Marlin, part of the Marine Biological Association at Plymouth.
At each of the two beaches visited, Lee Bay and Abbotsham, teams of a dozen or so volunteers lined up to count what they found in quadrats at the upper, mid and low shores to collect data to help Marlin identify the impact of climate change.
Lee and Abbotsham are very different beaches. At Lee for example, a sheltered shore with abundant seaweed, anemones are plentiful. At Abbotsham, more exposed, the seaweed is sparser, encrusting animals such as barnacles and Honeycomb worm are numerous, and the few anemones confined to deep rock-pools and gulleys.
Sea snails are plentiful at both, and these, with up to a 100 in some of the mid shore quadrat count areas, are a main focus of the count. One, the Thick Topshell, has been identified as a climate change indicator, and is extending its range north as the seas warm. The survey includes a timed search for this and other climate change species, as well as aliens, newcomers that may have a damaging impact on our seas. Reassuringly perhaps there have been no unexpected finds yet.
For Coastwise, Shore Thing provides an opportunity to rock-pool with a purpose, to learn from one another, and take part with others in a national project. The surveys are conducted twice a year. In September the Abbotsham visit is regularly taken by Torrington School, and Coastwise will be at Lee again. Anyone interested in taking part should email firstname.lastname@example.org It’s a great way to learn more about the shore.