Our Resort

Rock pool life

With the long days
of summer still upon us, this is a prime time for exploring our coastal areas
and rock pools. This time of year is great to see the abundant varieties of
seaweed, whose growth is in full swing during August, along with the various
creatures that call the rock pools home and are all really visible at this time of
year.

Rock pools are
home to a wide range of fascinating species, with the most common fish found in
these habitats being the common blenny, or shanny, as it is also known. This
amazing little fish with its cheeky grin has been the prey of nearly every
holidaying family at the beach since seaside holidays began in the Victorian
times. Unfortunately many of these rock pool creatures die in buckets and jars
after being extracted from their homes then carried around with the creatures
becoming extremely stressed being at such close quarters to their predators.
Another issue is that in this situation, the creature can often suffocate due
to a lack of oxygen in the water but this doesn’t need to be the case at all
with some responsible rock pooling.

It is great to be
curious and learn about the marine environment, so the rules are to look at
your catch and then put any creatures back where they came from and they will
be fine. It is important to remember these creatures live there and are not trapped
with the changing tide, so moving them to a different pool can be disaster for
them.

Rock pools are a
changeable and harsh environment for any creatures as the salinity of the water
changes from normal seawater to a mix of salt and fresh water when it rains and
back to pure seawater when the tide comes back in. Temperatures can get very
high in a shallow pool when the tide is out and then drop dramatically when the
tide comes in.  Most aquatic creatures
cannot survive in these conditions so the residents of the rock pools are a
hardy bunch. The shanny fish, for example, can hide in holes in the rocks well
above the low tide mark with just a little water to keep its skin moist whereas
seaweed can lose up to 80% of its moisture in the sun and then rehydrate when
the tide comes in, allowing it to thrive where other plants wouldn’t.

It’s not just the
environment that they have to deal with but also the constant pressure of
finding food and avoiding being eaten by the sea scorpion, another fish which has
amazing camouflage and demonstrates a chameleon-like capability to change
colour in a couple of minutes.  You can
see this if you quickly place one in a white bucket, it will quickly get paler
as it seeks to blend in with this new environment.  This tool help the sea scorpion to ambush prey
and avoid being spotted by predators, along with its huge mouth and gut which
allow it to catch and swallow comparatively large meals and its large bony
spines that make it difficult to swallow.

The limpet may look
defenceless but in fact when faced with a hungry starfish it raises its shell
and then brings it down on its attacker crushing it between its shell and the
rocks. The mussel, looks like an inoffensive little mollusc but can look after
itself when attacked by a whelk by producing sticky threads that serve to anchor
the whelk to the rock where it will then starve to death. However, if the whelk
gets the upper hand, it will drill a hole through the shell of the mussel to suck
out the flesh.

Wildlife watch

Go explore the
rock pools. With a little patience and commitment, there are so many
interesting things to observe in our rock pools but always remember to always
treat the creatures you discover carefully and put them back where you found
them.

Find out more about the activities at Feadon Farm and come rock pooling with us! 

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