Bi-Coastal Beachcombing

IMG_1167The weather has been awful lately (October in the UK, no surprise there) with lots of wind. A good time for some beach combing! I have not done much of that actually (here one old post) but hope to head out more over the winter. Last week a large piece of a space rocket washed up at the Isles off Scilly, but I am willing to settle for something less exciting… We headed for Chapel Porth Beach west of St. Agnes on the North Coast, a very rugged bit of coast. Because of the rain and the sand blasting, it was not very suitable for the kids so we stayed only for a very short while. Plastic debris high on the shore, some pieces of dead bird and a big buoy covered in Goose barnacles Lepas anatifera and potentially Lepas hilli (thanks David Fenwick); I find it difficult to distinguish between the two.IMG_1152IMG_1153IMG_1160A very large number of small Mauve stinger Pelagia noctiluca jellyfish had also washed up. I tried a couple of quick underwater photos but I should have taken a little more time to get them right. We then took the decision to head from the North coast to the South coast (which are only 25 miles apart), specifically Marazion at St. Michaels Mount. The weather can vary quite a bit locally and we figured it could only be better on the other side. The tide was still low and here the wind was onshore as well, however, not a single object seemed to have washed up. It kept raining and so we cut the beach combing short. Better luck next time!IMG_1170IMG_2229 IMG_2235


The first weekend after the recent storms and a bright blue sky meant that it was time for some beach combing. The beach at Praa Sands looked glorious in the sun, but we were probably a little late for the serious stuff (if there was any to begin with). So no dead Triggerfish, Columbus crabs or suitcases filled with cocaine. Instead, lots of bits of plastic and rope and some Velella remnants and empty Dogfish (or Small-spotted catshark Scyliorhinus canicula) egg cases. Of course also Common goose barnacles Lepas anatifer:


More interesting was a vat with (dead) Devonshire-cup-corals Caryophyllia smithii attached:



Damage to the coast was evident:



IMG_6629A short walk on a Tuesday afternoon on Holywell Beach west of Newquay: dark, bleak, with a bit of rain and a lot of wind. The upside was that we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Holywell is named after a well in a cave (see here), and I was quite curious to see it. Unfortunately, although we had a look in some smaller crevices, we seemed to have missed the main cave…Ah well, a good excuse to go back some time.IMG_6635No rock pools here, but there was some good beach combing to do with this stormy sea. For the first time I found the By-the-wind-sailor Velella velella, a Siphonophoran: a colony of specialized polyps, with short tentacles underneath and a little sail on top. They are related to the Portuguese Man-of-War. These organisms live on the open ocean, but can be blown onto shores in storms (mass stranding are common on the West Coast of the USA):IMG_6668IMG_6672The pollution of our seas with plastics is a big problem and becomes very apparent when surveying the strandline. Depressing stuff:IMG_6698

Finally, some washed up crates with a Common goose barnacle Lepas anatifera attached:IMG_6705IMG_6703