Rockpooling in Flushing

Some pics from today at Flushing Beach. Above, a pair of Green shore crabs Carcinus maenas, below two Furrowed crabs Xantho hydrophilus. (I probably should have gone for a whole crab series, as I saw several other common species…) Instead I took loads of random photos, of things that were 150 mm to things that were only 5 mm, with varying success. For instance of a Painted Topshell Calliostoma zizyphinum on the invasive Bryozoan Watersipora subatra. Also the underside of the urchin Psammechinus miliaris, showing its mouth (Aristotle’s Lantern). Photobombing top left is the commensal worm Flabelligera affinis (which I noticed as well the last time I took a version of this picture). Bit random but it was fun practicing. It actually is more difficult to take photos abovewater compared to underwater due to the glistening and the awkward position kneeling on wet gravel/rocks. Next time I might try a tripod (ideally remote flash would be used but I do not think I am going to invest in that). Btw, if you are on instagram, I also post pics as @an_bollenessor.

Because of the plankton bloom (see the last post), I decided to try my hand again at some above-water macrophotography. Above and below a Flat periwinkle Littorina obtusata on bladder wrack. More subjects: a Red Doris Rostanga rubra, a Painted topshell Calliostoma zizyphinum, Cornish sucker (or Shore clingfish) Lepadogaster purpurea eggs (they must not be laid long ago and so the tiny fish are not yet visible, although if you zoom in you can see an outline forming) and some layers of Coral weed.

a very low tide at Falmouth part 1

Low tides over the weekend, see the previous post for the trip on Saturday in Flushing. On Sunday the wind resulted in the water being swept up quite high on the shore unfortunately (the next very good tide I will make sure to check the wind a bit better, probably would have been a good idea to have gone to the north coast). Also the rain made swiping my iPhone very difficult and I was absolutely drenched. Luckily I had already taken a long lunch break on Friday when it was sunny! As I found a good number of species I will divide them up over two short posts instead of a very long one. In this post some species that have featured before, but that I now have taken better pictures of: a Shore clingfish (or Cornish sucker) Lepadogaster lepadogaster, a particularly purple Spiny starfish Marthasterias glacialis, a particularly orange Painted topshell Calliostoma zizyphinum as well as a close-up of the ‘normal’ colour variety, Blue-rayed limpets Helcion pellucidum, Seven-armed starfish Luidia ciliaris and a Bull huss (Nursehound shark) Scyliorhinus stellaris mermaids purse. Nice colours all around:IMG_6064

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low tide finds at Flushing

The day after the very low tide excursion in Falmouth, I had a look in Flushing as well. This site is less pretty, more silty and estuarine, and has a slightly different fauna as well, especially on the muddier areas below the rockpools. (I have written a post about ‘mud pooling’ before.) Lots of sponges, Variegated scallops, European cowries, Hooded prawns and Common squat lobsters. This time I noticed that Hairy crabs Pilumnus hirtellus are common here too. Two diffently coloured Long-clawed porcelain crabs Pisidia longicornis:

IMG_8030A pretty sponge Aplysilla rosea (determined using the Aphotomarine page as it was not featured in my otherwise excellent Collins guide):

IMG_8041I had seen one before, but with this low tide I found several Sea lemons Archidorus pseudoargus, large sponge-eating nudibranchs. A large one and a small one together (on the right side of each you can see the ‘naked gills’ which are not extended above water):IMG_8098

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Another, bigger individual (European cowries and Thick-lipped dog whelks for scale) again with a smaller individual half under it:

IMG_8073You can see some tiny juvenile Variegated scallops Chlamys varia too. I found my biggest one to date:

IMG_8082They can be much prettier than that though!

IMG_8026I could not resist taking some stuff home to my aquarium, even though I was still waiting for the chiller and new lights (they both have since arrived, that’ll be my next post). There were loads of Painted top shells Calliostoma zizyphinum, which are very pretty and moreover do not often emerge above water so they might be better behaved in the aquarium, and I took some of those home. I also took a pair of Butterfish Pholish gunnellus and some Sea lemons, mainly to observe them for a week or so and then release them again before starting fiddling with the tank. This was not a great succes unfortunately: both Butterfish died within a couple of days. I had acclimatized them to room temperature and I don’t know what the reason could have been. Clingfish, mullet, a rockling, gobies and blennies have never died in my aquarium. I felt really bad about it; definitely no more Butterfish in my tank!

IMG_8115One of the Sea lemons managed to get caught by a Snakelocks anemone….however, it produced copious amounts of slime and it was eventually spat out!

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low tide

The tides were good this weekend and so we went out to Gylly (Gyllyngvase) Beach in Falmouth, specifically the rocks to the west of the beach (I normally go to Castle Beach to the east):

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Although the tide was quite low, no special sublittoral species were encountered, but everything time you go out you still see something new. For instance, a newly moulted Furrowed crab, Xantho incisus pink and soft next to its old brown carapace: IMG_5469

There were very many small Blue-rayed limpets Helcion pellucidum (see also here) on the kelp:IMG_5412

A tiny Rissoa parva snail:IMG_5409

and a Painted top shell Calliostoma zizyphinum:IMG_5457

Some dark green Cladophora rupestris:IMG_5437

A fine red seaweed (I do not know which one) growing on top of Dulse Palmaria palmata growing in turn on top of kelp: IMG_5455

top ten animals for the unchilled aquarium: 10 – 6

As the aquarium is currently in a state of limbo, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the critters that have been most rewarding to keep in the year or so I’ve had my aquarium. Based on my personal experience, I have made an, admittedly completely arbitrary, top 10 of animals for a Cornish (or North-Western European) marine aquarium. I picked animals that were both easy to collect (i.e. common), easy to keep (not requiring live food and resistant to water temperatures up to 25C) and fun to watch. Here goes with the first part of the list!

10: Netted dogwhelk Hinia reticulata

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Not the prettiest of molluscs maybe, but very easy to find and very easy to keep. Burrowing in sand, and moving surprisingly fast over the bottom when smelling food. Their smaller (and prettier) cousins the Thicklipped dogwhelk Hinia incrassata never survived for long in my unchilled tank.

9: Common hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus

IMG_1020Hermit crabs are especially fun to watch scurrying about. Mine never really lasted very long but that is probably because of predation by blennies and gobies (see below)….

8: Shanny Lipophrys pholis (or Rock goby Gobius paganellus)

IMG_0203Shannies are probably the most common fish to find in rock pools. They are very easy to keep, their coloration is not particularly vivid but not dull either and they are quite active. The only downside is that they prey on molluscs and other small critters. Feeding them a bit more might prevent this, but especially the rock gobies are so voracious that I doubt that (one was so swollen I thought it was dying, until I realized that it had gorged itself on defrosted artemia…). Montagu’s blenny Coryphoblennius galerita is prettier and smaller than the shanny but much harder to find (see this post for experiences with other fish species).

7. Thicklip grey mullet Chelon labrosus

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Most rock pool inhabitants live on or near the rocks, but it looks nice if the aquarium also have some fish swimming in the water column. Mullet are very common, and small individuals form nice silvery schools (which are almost impossible to photograph as you can see). They don’t really interact with the other tank inhabitants.

6: Painted top shell Calliostoma zizyphinum

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One of my favorite local molluscs: a bright purple shell with an orange colored snail inside. Shells are never covered with algae as the snail wipes it clean with its foot (the shell can still be damaged of course as seen in this individual).

The next post will feature the top 5 of animals for the unchilled aquarium.