Author Melanie Edge
Sounds a bit like Enid Blyton? Read on!
Recently, the Wildlife Guardians got their boots off for a change and spent a glorious day at the beach at Seven Sisters in East Sussex.
Brilliant hot sun and a picnic (with scones and cream) on the beach brought back childhood memories. As did the reason we were there – to see what we could find in the broad swathe of rock pools at the foot of the towering white chalk cliffs.
Rock pools have always fascinated me, poised between land and sea, a miniature landscape of mountains and valleys, underwater forests and caves. But rock-pooling was never so much fun as this in my childhood. Back then I would poke a finger at various squirmy things in the water and wonder idly what they were. Maybe I should have bought a book. Most likely it would have been ‘I-Spy at the Seaside.’ But I’d only have dropped it in the water.
No such worries on this occasion. All I had to do was shout, ‘hey, what’s this?’ and the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s experts, Olle Åkesson (Living Seas Officer) and Mike Murphy (Education Development Manager), would come splashing over full of enthusiasm to identify my new find. Spotty round blob? It’s a strawberry sea anemone. Funny little black fish? It’s a four-bearded rockling. Oh, look! That shell making its erratic way across the bottom of the pool has a hermit crab in it!
There were no Enid Blyton villains to contend with in our human world, but plenty of dramas playing out in the pools, where unseen predators lurked under rocks and shrimps entered an underwater cave, never to be seen again…just a disturbance in the water and a puff of sand to hint at their fate.
We rock-pooled, we picnicked on sandwiches, scones , raspberries and cream. We drank cups of tea. We rock pooled again. We looked at tiny samples of seawater in a magnifier and discovered a whole microscopic world in there.
We fell in the sea (some of us) and dried fast in the sun. We had another cup of tea and yet another scone.
The discoveries of the day included –
- montagu’s sea snail
- edible crab (we didn’t eat it)
- strawberry sea anemone
- beadlet anemone
- porcelain crab
- sand mason worm
- barnacle moults (juvenile Barnacles)
- hermit crabs
- neonate fish
- four-bearded rockling
As pleasurable as the beach was the walk from the car park and back, past some of the beautiful Cuckmere meanders, where a heron perched on the bank –maybe hoping to make a meal of the grey mullet flashing in the water.
Oh, and did I mention the scones?
Join us next time. Have fun and help the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s work at the same time. What could be better?
Wildlife Guardians are a dedicated group of people who care passionately about the Sussex countryside, and enjoy a closer involvement with the Sussex Wildlife Trust.