Last weekend it was THE BEST weekend in the year for seaweeds here in Falmouth: the short window where most species peak (just before the bluebells are flowering on land), with a low tide, flat seas and sun. Unfortunately I was still waiting for my my new camera to come back from repair, which was very frustrating…. I took some pics with the Canon Powershot instead, but they are not really worth posting. I finally got my camera back last Tuesday: no damage to the lens but some replaced camera parts; with a bill under £150 it could have been a whole lot worse. As soon as I received the camera, I drove to Castle Beach and went for a 2.5 hour snorkel. The weather was not great, and the viz was neither. I took my strobe but that ended up in a big scatterfest so I quickly proceeded without it. First some general impressions of the rock pools with lots of Sargassum, Jania and Ulva. I also noticed quite a bit of Desmarestia ligulata (3d pic down):
I went fully Manual, varying ISO, shutterspeed and aperture which went surprisingly smoothly. The bad visibility and overcast skies however made it tricky to get good results and most photos were underexposed (of course still with some blown highlights). Also, I noticed the 8mm fisheye results in quite a bit of distorsion around the edges, more so than the wetlens I am used too even, which is slightly disappointing (but partially solvable by cropping). I tried a quick over-under shot which will I will practice more using a strobe (as the above water part is much brighter), but the main challenge will be to find a background that is more interesting than a bit of rock! Having a camera+ lens in a housing rather than a wetlens stuck on a housing is a huge improvement but I stilll have issues with having lots of bubbles on the dome. The seaweeds are happy at the moment and photosynthesising lots. The pic below of Harpoonweed Asparagopsis armata shows all the oxygen bubbles on the plant. Next, two photos of False eyelashweed Calliblepharis jubata and of Beautiful fan weed Callophyllis laciniata (I think!). Finally some animals. I discovered a small (3 inch or so) and exquisetly camouflaged Longspined scorpionfish Taurulus bubalis under the Thong weed, can you spot it? This is a shot that really needed a strobe but alas….Snakelocks anemones Anemonia viridis are common here. Again this pic is a bit underexposed and the vibrant colours do not come out but it shows the beautiful shape of this animal at least. What I need to do the coming months is too practice (especially with the strobe) so I will be well-prepared for the second seaweed season in autumn! (See the ‘2017 Falmouth Seaweed’ tag at the bottom of the webpage for posts showing how seaweed species wax and wane over the year.)
I have not posted as much on the blog as I would have liked this year (in fact, I keep posting less and less: 24 times this year, compared with 33, 46 and 64 posts the previous years). My new year’s resolutions will be to dive more, to go rock pooling more and to blog more. For now, I will post some miscellaneous photos from this year that I did not bother to put on the blog at the time (as I did last year). Below a Beadlet anemone Actinia equina on the beach in St. Ives as well as a young cormorant looking for food taken with my new Canon G16:I caught a number of different fish this year, the first photo shows a small Montagu’s blenny Coryphoblennius galerita in an aquarium net which were fun to watch in a little aquarium. Next a Longspined scorpionfish Taurulus bubalis caught with my big net off the quay and a Sand smelt Atherina presbyter (see here for a movie). The latter species did not last long in my tank unfortunately. I mentioned in the last aquarium update that a Topknot I caught seemed to have died in the tank too, but I found out it is still there, it just likes to hide behind the rocks.I visited the quirky Victorian Horniman Museum and Aquarium on a trip to London which features lots of stuffed animals and diorama’s which I find quite fascinating. The aquarium part is small; there is some behind the scene coral (sexual) propagation research going on which sounds very interesting. There were two or three coldwater tanks too, the larger tanks were not much too look at (I know how hard it is…) but I really liked the Victorian fountain-style aquarium. A quick snap here; see this video for a nice overview. I would like to collect some Black brittlestars Ophiocomina nigra next year, they can be very abundant at slightly deeper sites.I also visited the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth for a second time. It features the deepest aquarium in the UK, complete with plane wreck and some Sandtiger sharks. I was more interested in the coldwater stuff, of which there was quite a bit. I especially liked the Lesser weever Echiichthys vipera which can be caught on sandy shores; their venomous sting would make handling a bit tricky though. There were some cute pipefish (these need live food and I do not want to commit to that) and a round display with loads of Snakelocks anemones (see the first picture posted on this blog). I have placed a couple of these in my aquarium again, perhaps I need to get a few more, as they are so pretty and easy to keep. I did not manage to get a good shot of the very impressive Wreck fish or Stone bass Polyprion americanus in the large coldwater display unfortunately. Next up a washed up sponge in Falmouth (species unknown) and a live one (Aplysilla sulfurea) under a rock, both taken in Falmouth with my iPhone. I have only been diving a couple of times this year and did not post about the rocky shore dives (here some photos of the maerl and eelgrass beds). I have seen a variety of interesting animals, including cuttlefish, a conger eel and lobsters but next year I hope to go out a bit further and dive a bit deeper to finally see jewel anemones and dead man’s fingers. I am not sure I want to commit to a flash and strobes though, instead I’d like to practice my rock pool (seaweed) photography.
In a recent post I showed some pictures of fish I caught off the quay in Flushing. I have since quite regularly scraped the sides of the quay with my net and netted a bunch more species. No good pictures of the Shanny, Rock Goby and Two-spotted goby yet, but here are some OK pictures of other species (I do not like to keep the fish too long out of the water so it is a bit rushed). Besides many juvenile individuals, occasionally I catch an adult Corkwing wrasse Symphodus melops. I have only once I managed to cath a bright green juvenile Ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta:
Twice I have caught a Sea scorpion Taurulus bubalis, they look a bit like gremlins. Once I caught a Greater pipefish Syngnathus acus, very cool:
My friend Thor is a very good photographer with a very good camera and he made some great pictures of fish in the cuvet this week. Two Corkwings, a Fifteen-spined stickleback Spinachia spinachia, some Thick-lipped (probably) grey mullet Chelon labrosus. The latter are more difficult to catch as they are in open water and the net has a small mesh size. As a bonus the most common catch, a Common prawn Palaemon serratus:
Hmmmm. After a promising start, disappointment has set in: algae spreading and seaweeds withering. To top it off: the Corkwing wrasse went missing; no dead fish to see but a noticeably larger Snakelocks anemone….After it managed to catch some prawns as well, it decided to split into two. I did managed to find a live Turban (or great) top shell Gibbula magus though and it seems happy (I do not have a good picture of it so see here.) I did some more fishing of the quay with my net and caught many small Corkwings and some Sea sticklebacks as well as a Long-spined bullrout (or Sea scorpion) Taurulus bubalis (see also here). The plan was to only keep them for a couple of days to then bring them to a local outreach event (see here for last years edition). I should have known better: the Sea scorpion ate about six fish overnight and so I quickly released the remaining prey fish…. Keeping a healthy native aquarium is not easy, and I am making it myself a bit too difficult with all the seaweed experimenting. Perhaps I need to try something else? An anemone aquarium could be nice (although that would mean no fish or maybe just a Sea scorpion…). I found a link to a supernice Russian anemone aquarium (very cold, 3-8 degrees), check this out! The aquariums from the US West Coast that I see on the Coldwater Marine Aquarium Owners facebook group also look really nice. I need to get the Tunze going again, replace the Rowaphos, do a water change and start thinking what I want to catch…
Last weekend we headed out to the rock pools inbetween Gyllyngvase (‘Gylly’) beach and Swanpool Beach (very close to the usual Castle Beach spot). Very low tides and lots of sun: perfect! As always there were some critters about that I had not seen before. An Orange-clubbed sea slug Limacia clavigera; quite small as the second picture shows:
Another tiny critter, a juvenile Squat lobster (don’t know which species):
A very cool find: a Montagu’s sea snail Liparis montague. This small fish is scaleless and has a sucker on its belly (like the Clingfish). it looks a bit like a tadpole:
A species I had seen darting off once or twice but had never caught is the Sea scorpion Taurulus bubalis (I have found eggs before):
This species is beautiful but voracious (and so I did not want it for my tank); check out the size of its mouth:
It is expertly camouflaged as well:
I saw a couple of these egg clusters some time ago and asked my friends at the British Marine Life Study Society Facebook page what they could be. Unfortunately I have not had any suggestions yet. Do you know who laid these eggs?
Aha, Bert Roos from the Dutch ‘Noordzee en Koud Zeewater Forum’ reckons these are eggs laid by the Long-spined Bullhead Taurulus bubalis!
Went to Castle Beach in Falmouth after work this week for a bit of rock pooling. I saw a beautiful grey-red Sea scorpion Taurulus bubalis; I could not tell the difference) or but it was gone before I could even attempt to catch it. Below the
much easier to spot Shanny Lipophrys pholis Giant goby Gobius cobitis (after lifting up a rock):
I spotted a small Eel Anguilla anguilla for the first time on the beach; it was quick but I could scoop it up from a very shallow sandy pool. Nice, but not of interest for the aquarium!
Also spotted for the first time: a European sting winkle Ocenebra erinacea. This I took home for the aquarium:
A tiny white Edible crab Cancer pagurus. I do not know if it is an albino or whether juveniles are generally white. I had a bigger one in the aquarium (carapace width 6 cm or so), but every night the light went out it came out of its burrow and started to rearranging the tank, knocking big rocks against the glass. This one is only one cm so I hope it will be better behaved: