Hello, I am Mick. I go by the name of ‘An Bollenessor’ which means ‘the rock pool hunter’ in the Cornish language (and is very difficult to remember, sorry). In this blog, I occasionally post about my marine biology adventures here in Cornwall: rock pooling, beach combing, snorkeling, diving, ‘pontooning‘, keeping local organisms in my aquarium and more and more about underwater photography (mainly seaweeds). I try to take care in identifying species using resources such as aphotomarine but I will be wrong in some cases. See the links page for a list of useful sites and books. If you have specific interests, you can click on one of the Categories at the bottom of the home page. These are pretty self explanatory, e.g. diving, rock pooling, seaweeds, fish or aquarium update. For more specific topics of interest click the Tags under the blog post header. Older photo’s above water are taken with my iPhone 4S (with an olloclip lens for macro pics), older underwater photo’s are taken with Canon Powershot D30, Panasonic Lumix or Canon G16 compact cameras; newer underwater photo’s with an Olympus OMD5 mark2 or OMD1 mark2 mirrorless camera. I work at the University of Exeter in Cornwall and have a work blog too.

one happy camper

23 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi
    Your blog is great, love the photography.
    My wifes family is located in cornwall around feock and perranporth, so its like a second home,and we love it.
    Have had a reef tank for a couple of years and have got the bug so am planning on setting up a native marine tank/ rock pool as a second tank, mainly for my enjoyment but to get the kids involved too.
    Am chuffed have found your blog for inspiration and info as to what we can find when down.
    Thank you

    • Hi Phil,
      Great to hear you find the blog of interest and that you plan to set up your own native tank. It is quite doable actually. No chiller is needed, I would probably advise to go for a lit sump with wireweed or another fast-growing seaweed to remove excess nutrients. See also the links page for the Irish rock pool aquarium blog for inspiration and advice.
      cheers, Mick

  2. Hello An Bollenessor
    Thank you for the beautiful photos and marine knowledge! We have a small seaweed company in Jersey called Ocean Harvest. Have you ever explored our Island! If not you should someday! As you probably know we have extreme tides which allow us to explore twice monthly some lovely low water specimens. We love our Vraic!

  3. I have a tropical marine setup over 18 months old now. I have had 3 Snakelock’s in there for just a tad over 1 year. They’ve been on thier very best behaviour! I’ve not lost anything to them at all. They rarlely moved from where I originally put them. They have all increased in size since and just yesterday one has split. I know these can split for breeding but also for survival I’m told so I await events.. Otherwise they are such beautiful creatures. I also have 3 native prawns too, these are actuallly quite pretty with the yellow banded legs. They are so interesting to watch at feeding time as they carry off as much as they can hold before scurrying off. Question is are there any other natives that can survive in tropical marine? Like Peacock worms or plumose anemone?

    • Hi Martin,interesting to hear about ypur experiences. It makes great sense to use native rock pool species for tropical tanks actually: they are hardy, common, beautiful and cheap! Not sure what other species might work (perhaps you already have a chiller to prevent overheating and you could bring temperatures down to 24C or so to please both tropical and temperate species?). These old posts from before I had a chiller and temperatures were quite high might be of interest:



      cheers, Michiel

      • Hi Michiel.
        I eagerly await your posts! My tropical marine is doing OK, I have 4 Snakelocks who seem happy I feed them a prawn once a week, originally I put 2 in but there have split so now 4 though I read somewhere they can divide when stressed as a defence or survival mechanism? That said they are all looking good. So, I really want to put a few more native species in like a couple of plumrose anemones, 4 (largish) fan worms few prawns, well anything that will enhance but survive OK. I write this with a view to asking are you able to obtain any of these for me? Or is it not the done thing? I cannot dive (nor snorkel these days) so I’m limited. My setup is 600ltr tank, with 2 x 12,000ltr/hr pumps, live rock only, no heaters. The temperature doesn’t seem to drop below 24 and all seem happy with no outbreak of disease or white spot so it must be at least adequate! Thanks and kind regards, Martin.
        PS> Not sure if my suggestions are compaitible with what I have but the fish at least have successfully managed to avoid the snakelocks for the last 2 years! Oh, and FYI I have a 5 fish, (2 clowns, 2 blue damsels) 1 regal tang and a yellow goby, a cleaner shrimp and a solitary 4″ native prawn who has been in there for a year and who shows himself occasionally, but interesting when he meets the cleaner shrimp!!

      • Hi Martin, sorry for the late reply! I am afraid I do not have the time to collect for others (I have not enough time to collect for myself almost) but collecting yourself is half the fun anyway so I would suggest a nice trip to the seaside! Prawns and anemones should be easy to find. Fan worms might be difficult to extract whole. If possible, would be nice if you could post a picture of the snakelocks in your tropical tank in the comments? all the best, Michiel

  4. Thanks Michiel. I don’t have a chiller, actually neither do I have any heaters! The 7ft by 2ft x 2ft aquarium is in the kitchen and is actually quite a stable temperature. It seems to stay within 1 to 3 degrees of 24c all year round. Great, I’ll check your suggestions out. Any views on a Plumose anemone or Peacock fan worms? Thanks again.

  5. Hi,

    I work for a French contemporary artist who is doing a few aquariums with special ecosystems in it.
    Today he is interested in the Astropecten Platyacanthus and the Astropecten Irregularis. I have seen your video on Youtube on that latter, which comforts me in the fact that we can have these specie in an aquarium ! I would like to know more about exactly do you keep them, what are the basic requirements, and any advices you may have would be very helpful !

    Thanks a lot !


    • Hi Leonor,
      I don’t think Astropecten is very suitable for the aquarium as they live under the sand and you cannot see them! For that reason I put mine back in the sea. The Spiny starfish and Common starfish are better pets though (although they mainly come out of hiding at night). The best and cutest option would be the small Cushion star Asterina gibbosa, they are active during the day. Hope this is of help! cheers Michiel

  6. Hi
    My name is Tony and live 15 min from swanpool. I have my own native tank (250 litre) that I have had set up for just over a month . I have 2 beadlets and 2 strawberry anemones , common crab , a few hermits , 4 small blennies , corkscrew wrasse (juvenile) 6 shrimp . Would love a snakelock but not sure where to find them . Any ideas of the best place please . Love your blog by the way !!

    • Hi Tony,
      glad you like the blog. Cool you have such a big tank, do you have a chiller? (not needed for many rockpool inhabitants btw). A very good place to collect is Castle/Tunnel/Gylly beach, snakelock can definitely be found there. Some good tides coming up! cheers Michiel

      • Is Tunnel in the middle of the two ? Also do I have to catch the tide at low and is the best place to look on underside of rocks ? I don’t have a chiller no . Tank is not in sunlight and radiators are off . Seems to maintain a consistent temp

      • Hi Tony
        yes, there is a tunnel entrance opposite to the Gyllyngdune Gardens. Catch the tide low and turning rocks helps you find stuff (be sure to place them back as they were). Watch out for snakelocks on the sides of the pools, can’t miss em!

  7. Stunning photos and great write ups.
    I’ve had a 200 Lt tank running for a few weeks now in south Devon ( Noss Mayo). Some mullet, prawns,gobies with anenomes and a tiny corkwing. Going ok ish and learning a lot. What seaweed would survive in your opinion? Tank is lit with led strips for most of the day and currently running at 15 celcius. I would welcome your advice, Regards Jon Rundle.

    • Thanks Jon,
      Seaweed is tricky, as when it does not do well and starts to die off, there will be a lot of nutrient release and algae and detritus as a result. I think the best strategy is to place some rocks w lots of growth/tiny seaweeds in the tank and wait to see if some things grow into big seaweeds. Good luck and consider to start a blog!
      cheers, Mick

  8. I can’t believe I just discovered this blog today. Beautiful photography and really ineresting articles as well. Should definitely help with marine life ID too – really inspiring šŸ™‚ Please keep up the amazing effort!

  9. Hi Mick,

    Like similar posters here I found this blog as I currently own a tropical reef tank and am thinking of dipping my toes in to temperate British marine – I’m a bit in awe of the gorgeous organisms we have in our shores! There’s some gorgeous imagery on this website.

    Primarily I’m thinking the tank will be an anemone tank (I understand they’re very hardy, and I will be running the tank without a chiller – but can you make any recommendations for hardy macro algae which will tolerate temps 20Ā°C+ and not ‘go sexual’?! I noted your recommendation to grow wire weed in the sump – thank you! šŸ™‚

    Kind regards,

    • Hey Callum,

      Starting your own temperate tank will be sometimes frustrating but ultimately very rewarding! There is something about collecting your own animals and knowing where they came from. It is fine to run the tank without a chiller (not in a particular warm spot of the house of course) if you limit yourself to intertidal things. Snakelocks, beadlets and dahlias are beautiful and quite hardy species and easy to feed with defrosted prawns. If you go back five or so years on this blog I have some posts on my favourite animals for an ‘unchilled’ aquarium. Things like starfish for instance are also easy to keep and fascinating creatures. Seaweeds are tricky as they are usually quite seasonal and very picky when it comes to light/temperature and wave regimes. The best way to grow them is to bring some rocks from a pool which will be seeded with tiny flecks of different species. The ones that like your tank will grow out, the ones that don’t won’t (but will not cause a die-off). The whole ‘going sexual’ thing is of concern for Caulerpa but not our native species.

      Good luck!


      • Thanks very much Mick! Unfortunately we live in a small flat and the ambient room temperature often gets up to 21-22 in the summer – nice and warm in the winter, but not ideal for a chiller-less tank in the summer months… The temperate tank will have to be one for the future!

        … Love your recent pic of the Rainbow Wrack framed in the Thong Weed.

        Best wishes,

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