Paul Barrow had organised a rockpool trip and had gone to much trouble making sure everything was right, including health and safety aspects, for what would be a very interesting ‘creature hunt’.
The mounded area around the pier is dotted with rockpools and, as we would find out, many of the rocks here are well anchored into incredibly soft sand. For such a large stretch of beach things were incredibly quiet so only passing Swans and aircraft distracted from our task.
Our task was not easy as we enthusiastically raked through watery sand and turned over rock in pursuit of whatever creatures lurked in the pools. After much searching we managed to uncover a couple of small fish, several Crabs, a living Starfish, large shells complete with occupants and brilliantly coloured red anemones. All of creatures we had found were carefully placed back into places of safety.
For the second part of our morning we conducted a survey of seaweeds found both in the rockpools and upon the beach. We had hoped to record 13 species and note their preferred environment and how abundant these species were? We found several of the targeted species but Paul was disappointed, and concerned, that we were unable to record all 13.
Finally, we conducted a survey of how many Limpets could be spotted in 60 seconds.
The two surveys were not conducted light heartedly and the information they revealed will be forwarded to the British Museum of Natural History as part of their national survey - the results of which you can find upon their website.
As we said our ‘see you soon’, and the STAMPS members departed for home, our day was not quiet over. STAMPS member Bede Kerrigan took Sue, Mark Lyons and myself down the coast towards Whitburn. This gave us the chance to visit the infamous Marsden Bay. As readers of The Aquarium Gazette CD magazine are aware (through the excellent article on modern day Sea Dragons submitted by Richard Freeman for Issue 15) this Bay is alive with grizzly stories and has witnessed more sightings of the Shoney (a mythological/unknown water serpent) than any other area of the Sunderland coastline. You would be extremely lucky to see the Shoney but what you do find are amazing rock formations and a pub/café (with an amazing history) built into the cliff face. Our thanks to Bede for taking the time to show us around some beautiful coastline.
The great thing with ‘Twinning Days’ is that they allow you to have wonderful times like today and cement friendships. Thank you to Paul and his fellow STAMPS members for the wonderful day we had.