6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Dorset Magazine today click here

5 creatures lurking in the rockpools of Dorset

PUBLISHED: 14:50 18 August 2017

Common Blenny (Photo by Chris Roberts)

Common Blenny (Photo by Chris Roberts)

Archant

Julie Hatcher, Dorset Wildlife Trust Marine Awareness Officer, reveals some of the extraordinary summer residents lurking in your local rockpool

A pair of red eyes peer from beneath a shrubby seaweed covered ledge in a rockpool. The water left by the retreating tide is still and crystal clear, but there are plenty of dark crevices and overhangs for small animals to hide in safety, concealed from the prying eyes of predators and curious people.

Life in a rockpool can be precarious. A boulder overturned and not carefully replaced can mean death for delicate animals. An oystercatcher’s long, orange beak or a child’s brightly coloured fishing net can easily take a creature by surprise and thrust them into the bright sun of the open air.

To us, rockpools are places of mystery and its residents secretive and strange. What better way to spend a few hours on a calm, sunny day this summer, than sitting by a seashore pool and watching the comings and goings, the squabbles and antics of animals such as crabs, blennies and prawns.


5 rockpool residents

The Aggressive Dandy: Velvet Swimming Crab

The belligerent velvet swimming crab looks like a Victorian dandy dressed in purple striped trousers and a velvet jacket. The red eyes, however, offer a warning as to its true character - this is a crab not to be messed with. With spiky armour on its claws and an aggressive nature, it is best to keep fingers and toes out of its way.

Rockpool Grazers: Flat Periwinkle

Ranging in colour from sunshine yellow, through burnt orange to chocolate brown the flat shelled periwinkles are easy to spot amongst the sea wrack fronds they graze on. The yellow shells are particularly easy to spot, looking like discarded sweetcorn kernels, while the brown shells blend in perfectly with the seaweeds’ air bladders.

Sex Changing Carnivore: Cushion Star

Hidden beneath rocks in seashore pools, the cushion star glides along on its myriad tiny tube-feet, as if sliding on ice. This small relative of starfish feeds by inverting part of its stomach through its mouth to digest dead and decaying animals and seaweed. Small individuals are males but change into females when they reach a size of about 2cm.

Nosy Neighbours: Common Blennies

Common blennies (or shannies), are the nosy neighbours of the rockpool. These bold little fish are keen to investigate what’s going on and always on the look-out for a likely meal. Dabbling fingers at the water’s surface are sometimes enough to tempt them out of hiding, but you may wonder who is watching whom!

Transparent Cleaners: Prawns

These tiny transparent scavengers use their long antennae to detect food, while their tweezer-like pincers pick parasites and dead material from other animals, giving them a welcome clean-up. Prawns will even give you a manicure if you place your hand gently on the bottom of the rockpool and keep very still.


Follow the seashore code

1. Always return rocks and seaweed carefully to how you found them

2. Leave limpets, anemones and seaweed attached

3. Put animals back where you found them

4. Take your litter home

5. Check tide times to prevent being cut off when the tide turns


More…

Dorset Instagrams of the week - We don’t think photos of Dorset can ever get old. Here are 10 of the best shared on Instagram this week…

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Dorset visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Dorset staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Dorset account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 16:48

Visit Dorset has teamed up with some of the county’s best photographers to reveal the best locations to watch the sunrise or sunset to celebrate the Summer Solstice

Read more

A Roman road, an elegant mansion set in landscaped grounds and far reaching view across Poole Harbour all combine in this easy walk along two old railway routes

Read more
Tue, 09:58

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

Read more
Friday, May 11, 2018

Ian McEwan’s Booker Prize-nominated novel On Chesil Beach has been made into a film, but capturing Chesil’s wild windswept beauty proved to be quite a challenge for cast and crew

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

‘Tis the season for walking among the flora and fauna of Dorset’s best gardens... We pick six Dorset gardens to visit in May

Read more
Friday, May 4, 2018

Sam Scriven of the Jurassic Coast Trust shares thrilling tales of Dorset dinosaurs and reveals what this coastline looked like millions of years ago with the help of paleoartist Dr Mark Witton

Read more
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The quiet country lanes around this Blackmore Vale village offer delightful walking, but the fields before Thornhill Park are more of an adventure, as Edward Griffiths discovers

Read more
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From a cheese racing challenge to hundreds of guitars on a beach, Visit Dorset share some of the more unusual events and places to explore in the county

Read more
Monday, April 23, 2018

From farmhouse to country house, tea room to hotel Sue Quinn leaves no crumb untested as she seeks out some of the finest cream teas in the county

Read more

On this fascinating urban walk Edward Griffiths reveals the legacy left by two philanthropic sisters who established Talbot Village to help support the local community

Read more
Monday, April 23, 2018

Every May the ancient woodlands of Dorset are covered in a carpet of bluebells. We pick eight of the best spots to enjoy the seasonal colour in the county

Read more
Monday, April 16, 2018

Edward Griffiths reveals the important role this area played in the air battles of the Second World War

Read more
Monday, April 9, 2018

Helen Stiles seeks out the crème de la crème of deliciously stylish afternoon tea venues in the BH postcode

Read more
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

With Durdle Door, Brownsea Island, Jurassic Coast and a whole host of other stunning sights, Dorset is an amazing place for a stroll

Read more
 
A+ South & South West
 
Great British Holidays advert link
 
Pure Weddings advert link
 
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest


subscription ad
subscription ad

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Dorset's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search