Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Invasion of the killer jellyfish

The Safari is exaggerating slightly. The day dawned bright warm and calm, actually it was well past dawn by the time we got out of our pit. Looking at the sea on our commute we were eager to get out but for the second day in a row it wasn't possible which was a tad annoying to say the least - it was just about perfect out there. Not to worry we would be out on the beach exploring with a group of youngsters soon enough.
Today we were near the pier rather than at our usual temporary rockpooling site so it was all a bit new to us. There wasn't much standing water near the new steps but a bit of a shingle bank that had been thrown up had a few strandlines on it which looked promising. We started off there looking for pebbles, one's with stripes in them, round ones, flat ones, ones that looked like a marble; the children were only very young. All the while keeping our eyes peeled for shells and other items of interest.
Once we'd looked at this small section and not found a great lot although the kids did like the seaweed with 'armbands' to help it float - Spiral Wrack and Bladderwrack - we wandered a fair way down the beach to the nearest pool of water. A decent amount of shells had been washed up here including all the favourites, Banded Wedge  Shells, Striped Venus, Common Otter, Prickly Cockles, Common Cockles, Mussels, Pod Razors, Bean Razors, Curved Razors, Telins, Tower Shells, Whelks, Rayed Trough Shells along with lots of Masked Crab carapaces. All of which found their way into the tubs.
In the pool lots of tiny young Brown Shrimps skittered away from the nets, many weren't quick enough and found themselves in the tubs too.
Fish catcher extraodinaire from last week RC found another flat fish, not a tiny juvenile this time but a full grown whopper, dead though.
Looks like the remains of a Dab
We'd already seen quite a few mostly small jellyfish stranded on the beach but were quite unprepared for the mass of them in one corner of the pool. Lets just say there were a few more than plenty.
Almost all appeared to be dead, we didn't see any pulsating trying to swim off. The great majority were the harmless Moon Jellyfish but scattered here and there were a few orangy Lion's Manes.
At the nend of the session we gathered together to show everyone what each other had found. There's a nice big Thornback Ray mermaid's purse in the middle and a 'modern' lump of limestone that's sheared in the shape of what is almost definitely some kind of largish fossil.
The seaweed bottom left is a piece of the invasive non-native Wireweed originating from the Pacific Ocean.
Back at the office at lunchtime the sun was still strong and bright and had brought a few insects out in the wild garden. There were some Tree Bees collecting pollen and our first Large White butterfly of the year here. There's still nont that many hoverflies about although there were several of this shiny metallic Broad Centurion Flies (Chloroyia formosa).
A pair of bee mimicking Narcissus Bulb Flies were really making the most of the sunshine.
A quick look at the sea at lunchtime revealed it was very poor - other than a handful of Herring Gulls there was nothing to be seen at all.
Where to next?Back in the rockpools tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who likes jelly in your outback.

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