Science in the square

I helped out last Friday at the University of Exeter – Cornwall Campus event ‘Science In The Square’ (see for a short description my work blog ‘coastal pathogens‘). Briefly, the aim was to set up several small plastic trays and tanks with interesting local rock pool creatures and explain some fun facts to the general public (specifically kids). For instance, in one exhibit showing amongst others coralline algae, star ascidians and barnacles you had to guess which organisms were plant and which were animal (glossing over the fact that algae are not technically plants but OK). In another display (‘who’s the daddy’) we explained that it is the males in worm pipefish that are pregnant, not the females. In another display we explained that tunicates have larvae with a tail and spinal chord and that they are evolutionary more closely related to us than are for instance crabs, snails or starfish, something that is not very obvious when looking at the adults:


The star ascidian Botryllus schlosseri. (For some pictures of the related colonial ascidian Botrylloides leachi, see a previous post.) We had a couple of small tanks filled with a variety of animals and seaweeds:


A Giant goby Gobius cobitis, first time I saw one, almost 20 centimeters, quite impressive!


2 thoughts on “Science in the square

  1. I love the tank you set up for science at the square – it is simmilar to the work I am doing with the shoresearch programme for cornwall wildlife trust – we run public shore events and a shore laboratory with tanks and microscopes etc! I also have a crack team of shore surveyors who get together regularly through the summer and carry out surveys looking for rare speicies that can strengthen our arguement for more marine protected areas! check our the shoresearch page of cornwall wildife trust website!

    Great to see your pictures of the giant goby – I caught a few this summer too – I wanted to check if you got any good photos of the underside of the giant goby – if you havent done so its a good idea as the lobes on the pelvic fin allow us to definately identify this speicies – Giant gobys are pretty common in rockpools around falmouth but there are very few official varified records so please report them and take lots of photos and send them in to Cornwall wildlife trust (Where I work!!) Check out the ORKS system we now have on the Envrionmental records centre for cornwall and the Isles of scilly
    Matt Slater

  2. Hey Matt, I’d love to join on one of these surveys (next year I suppose). I will add the links to my link page (for what its worth!). I did not catch the giant goby myself (the group was out collecting that morning on Castle Beach whereas I was collecting in Flushing to increase the odds of finding cool species). No time for decent pictures either, but I figured that it was this species (not featured in my Collins Guide btw). I have never encountered one before. Cheers, Michiel

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