I started a Cornish shell collection with my children recently. So yesterday we went to our local beach on Flushing to look for new additions. Lying down I took a really close look and was rewarded with a whole bunch of tiny species. On this photo, 14 species comfortably fit on a square inch. Species names in a clockwise spiral:
Tritia incrassata (Thick-lipped Dog Whelk)
Trivia arctica (Arctic Cowrie)
Tricolia pullus (Pheasant Shell)
Bittium reticulatum (Needle Whelk)
Littorina obtusata (Flat Periwinkle)
Calliostoma zizyphinum (Painted Top Shell)
Steromphola cineraria (Grey Top Shell)
Littorina saxatilis (Rough Periwinkle)
Tectura virginea (White Tortoise Shell Limpet)
Peringia ulvae (Mudsnail)
Nucella lapillus (Dog Whelk)
Steromphola umbilicalis (Flat Top Shell)
The lowest tide of the century so far, on a Saturday, with beautiful weather and on a stunning location: what could go wrong? Very little! St. Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Mount’s Bay is one of the most beautiful spots in Cornwall and an excellent site for rock pooling with a mixture of eelgrass beds, rocks and sandy expanses. I felt like a kid in a candy shop: wanting to turn every stone, photograph every seaweed and inspect every gully before the tide would come back in. I needed to collect some more Clawed fork weed Furcellaria lumbricalis for a cool student project. That was abundant so easy to sort. Chock full of Pheasant shells Tricolia pullus. One other amazing thing was that the place was littered with Bull huss Scyliorhinus stellaris (a.k.a. Nursehound, a.k.a. Large-spotted dogfish) mermaids purses. Mount’s bay is an important breeding ground for these sharks. The yolk was easy to spot, but the embryo’s still to small to be seen. There were loads of pretty seaweeds gently waving among the eelgrass in the crystal clear water. I saw a bright green Chameleon prawn swimming about, but the picture I took was a bit underwhelming.
I had met up with David Fenwick, so could get all species identified on the spot. Very striking was a great amount of small, fuzzy pink seaweed balls: Falkenbergia, the tetrasporophyte stage of the Harpoon weed Asparagopsis armata (it looks so different from the gametophyte stage, see some old posts, that it was long considered a separate species). Also, a picture of Bushy rainbow wrack Cystoseira tamariscifolia, simply because one cannot post too many pictures of Bushy rainbow wrack….
Some invertebrates: the large scale worm Alentia gelatinosa, a Strawberry worm Eupolymnia nebulosa larger still, a tiny hermit crab Anapagurus hyndmanni and the Arctic cowrie Trivia arctica:
The find of the day (the month probably) was a Little cuttlefish Sepiola atlantica. This picture is crap, but David has made some stunning photos back in his lab and they will appear sometime soon on his aphotomarine site I am sure.
A first time encounter with the beautiful Pheasant shell Tricolia pullus. Strikingly, the pattern of the molluscs foot matches that of its shell. It sits on the seaweed Furcellaria lumbricalis (note also the encrusting red seaweeds):