The Safari has been entertaining a lot of children on the beach this last couple of days. And what a cracking couple of days they've been! They've found some superb creatures (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't call them critters - yuk yuk and double yuk). There were several fairly large Green Shore Crabs brought out of the pools. This chap has lost both his pincers so we're not sure if he'll survive his next moult as he'll be unable to feed - we know he's a he from looking at his underside.
At the edge of a pool on the beach right at the bottom of the slipway was a rather battered Common Sand Star. At first we thought it was dead but after a few children had handled it its finger tips began to curl up and it started to extend its tube feet so we reckon it was probably relieved to get back in the water of one of our buckets.
We always hope to find a loose Beadlet Anemone and this one was a big one. It's taken a long time (= years!) to find one that would sting us with enough of its tens of thousands of microscopic nematocysts to hold its one weight by stinging us.
Stung we were but it's OK as the stingers are so tiny they can only grip the very outermost dead skin cells so we were never going to be able to feel anything, not even so much a s a little tickle.
Even better was to come, as the children were busy with Common Prawns, Brown Shrimps, little Blennies and a shed load of tiny Green Shore Crabs we had a walk along the not very impressive strandline looking for seaweed with Mermaids' Purses. We didn't find any but did find this striking little shell...
So what is it? Well that's the rub we didn't know, we've not seen one like it before. It's similar to the very rare Grey Top Shell - well it's very rare on our beach we've only found one in the all the years we've been doing this type of event.
We had to wait until we got back to Base Camp and browse through some field guides that we learnt it was a Painted Top Shell and there aren't too many local records for them...No wonder we've not seen one before. It's been washed and is in our collection tub now!
With a bit of a thunderstorm and some horrendous rain last night we were worried that today's event would be called off but the rain gave up early and the sun came out to give a cracking day in the end.
That was the cue for the one of the biggest turnouts we've ever had...we were bombed!
A great afternoon followed. Lots of everything but strangely lots of very small juvenile starfish of hich we only saw a couple yesterday.
Some of the parents were very persistent when it came to getting the biggest crab or a tricky fish, our friend in the first pic was caught again. One young mum's persistence paid off with a little bit of help from her friend when she netted this absolute dobber of a Five Bearded Rockling, it's nearly a foot long, the ones we usually catch struggle to two inches!
Second best 'catch of the day' came right at the end of the session when a shrimp fel out of a pice of Hornwrack - not a normal Brown Shrimp but one like a freshwater Gammerid shrimp, Gammarus salinus, not a species we find very often at all.
And so ended two very enjoyable afternoons with some real quality finds - isn't our beach just splendidly brilliant!
Sadly those were the last children's events we'll do after 35 years, we've done hundreds over the years and enjoyed every single one and almost all the children have enjoyed them too...all we ask is that they've remembered something they saw, learnt something new and told their friends who weren't there how much fun it was.
Where to next? Helping our local MP sort out some winners for his environmental awards tomorrow but probably no chance of getting out in to the environment.
In the meantime let us know who's found the biggest dobber in your outback.