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Seashore Safari at Kimmeridge

PUBLISHED: 15:54 21 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:35 20 February 2013

Emma Rance shows some strandline treasures  in this case whelk eggs (credit Rupert Halden)

Emma Rance shows some strandline treasures in this case whelk eggs (credit Rupert Halden)

August is the best time for rockpooling, so Dorset Wildlife Trust's Marine Officer, Emma Rance, gets up close and personal with some critters you may meet along the shoreline during a seashore safari

The Seashore Code

Dont remove seaweeds, limpets or sea anemones from the rock: seaweeds cannot re-attach; limpets and sea anemones will be damaged and may not survive. Take only photos for souvenirs, not living animals or seaweeds.

Crabs and fish kept in crowded buckets will die, especially on a hot day. Collect one animal at a time, keep your buckets in the shade, refresh the water frequently and return your catch to where you found it, as soon as you can.

If you use a crab-line, remove the hook to avoid deep-hooking blennies and gobies, or buy a blenny-friendly crabbing kit. Dont use limpets and other local marine life for bait. Crab kits are available from the Fine Foundation Marine Centre at Kimmeridge.

Leave as you find: if you look under boulders and seaweed, carefully replace them just as you found them.

Finally, look after yourself: always consult local tide times and weather reports before venturing out.


A Seashore Safari at Kimmeridge


August is the best time for rockpooling, so Dorset Wildlife Trusts Marine Officer, Emma Rance, gets up close and personal with some critters you may meet on a Dorset Seashore Safari


Low-tide rockpooling is an opportunity not to be missed! For the keen rockpool rambler, this window of discovery is a chance to find clues to what lies beneath in the landscapes that mirror those on land; seaweed gardens, sandy gullies and rocky reefs. Marine life discoveries within the boulder fields and tide pools never cease to amaze. And the best bit is rockpooling is free!

Rockpools are micro-habitats for animals and seaweeds stranded at low tide. Many species possess brilliant adaptations for survival during this vulnerable time; for example, limpets and barnacles shut tightly, while crabs and starfish crawl into a dark crevice or under seaweed to hide.
During August and September, the coastal water is at its warmest and the numbers of seashore animals are swelled by their offspring. Rockpools teem with young prawns, crabs and fish, inhabiting the safety of the shallows away from larger predatory fish.

Those not so able to rock hop were all kids at heart after all could find a suitable ledge or rock to sit on and have a go at crabbing. The anticipation of what might take the bait is exciting and with a hook-free line, it will always be a happy ending. Eco-friendly crab lines are an ideal way to let marine life come to you. By dangling your line and baited net bag into the calm clear sea, youll be visited by shore crabs, velvet swimming crabs, maybe even a spider crab if youre lucky. In addition, many of the more inquisitive rockpool fish such as the courageous blennies and gobies will nibble on the tasty morsels without any harm.

For those who enjoy a sense of being part of the action, face-only snorkelling, using just a diving mask gives you a not-so-wet glimpse into the iridescent underwater realm of sunlit-dappled algae, shade-loving sea squirts and sponges. Additionally, a little deeper, you may even hear the sounds of the snapping prawns fending off unwanted visitors or dog whelks drilling into their hapless prey.



Whos Who in Rockpool Society

Limpets These sea snails cling tightly to the rock but at night wander the shore grazing on seaweed, always returning to their favourite marked spot on the rock.

Sea anemones Underwater, the colourful sea anemone looks more like a flower than an animal. Small creatures must beware: a sting from its tentacles can turn them into dinner for the anemone. Even humans can feel the sting, so handle with care.

Crabs You might find a crab hidden under rocks, safe in its armoured shell. As it grows the shell becomes tight and finally splits, leaving the crab temporarily with a soft shell until it hardens. Look for discarded crab shells on the beach.

Prawns These busy cleaners of the rockpool pick among the debris and sometimes clean dirt and dead scales from their fishy neighbours. Put your hand in a rockpool and keep it very still a prawn might come and give you a manicure, picking dirt and dead skin from under your finger nails!

Fish Look for a shadow darting for shelter thats probably a shy fish. Blennies are braver than most and may sit in the open watching you. They are coloured to blend in with their background but if you sit quietly you might see them moving around.

Rockpool Events during National Marine Week

Dorset Wildlife Trusts (DWT) vision for Living Seas is a healthy marine environment, rich in species and with a wide range of habitats. This is not just good for wildlife but benefits those whose livelihood or enjoyment depends on a thriving marine ecosystem. As 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, the theme for National Marine Week this year, which runs from 7-15 August, is the variety of life in our sea. Dorsets marine environment provides a haven for all sorts of extraordinary creatures, from basking sharks and puffins to seahorses and pink sea fans. Here are some of the DWT rockpool rambles and seashore safaris you can take part in.

Glass Bottom Boat Trip on the Fleet Observer


Sat 7 August -Fri 13 August


Daily trips, weather permitting, in the Fleet Lagoon and Portland Harbour, hour long trip with guide looking at various features along teh Chesil adn Fleet. Trips leave from jetty near Crab House Cafe, Wyke Regis (SY665763). Sailing times 10am, 11.15am, 12.30pm, 2pm, 3,15pm adn 4.30pm. Adults 7 , child 4 includes free souvenir leaflet of all the area's widlife and a free poster for chidlren.Booking essential call 01305 759692


The Fleet Observer Jetty is behind the Ferrybridge Inn, Ferryman's Way, Wyke Regis, Weymouth DT4 9YU ( going towards Portland turn right just before the Ferrybridge Inn)


Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, Lower Sea Lane, Charmouth DT6 6LL01297 560772.


7 August Seashore Discovery Day
Creature Feature Mould Making 10.30am - 12.30pm. Make and paint your own fossil or marine life plaster mould or polish up an ammonite.
1.50 per mould/slice.
Plankton Trawling 1.30pm - 3.00pm. Discover the microscopic monsters of our seas on this seashore plankton trawl. Come for a paddle to catch the critters and then take a look under the microscopes.
Adults 4, children 3. Booking essential.
Scavenger Hunt 3.30pm. Collect a bucket and question sheet from the centre. Be the first team to complete the hunt and get back to the centre to win a prize! 3 per team entry.


9 August Beneath the Waves Day
Fossil Hunting Walk 10.00am - 12.00pm. Discover the marine creatures of 185 million years ago during a fossil walk along the beach.Adults 7, children 3, children under 5 free. Booking advised.
Rockpool Ramble 11.00am - 12.30pm.Discover the wierd and wonderful creatures of the rocky shore on a rockpool ramble with the marine warden. Meet at the Anchor, Cobb Gate car park, Lyme Regis.
Adults 4, children 3


10 August Jurassic Seas Day
Fossil Hunting Walk
10.00am - 12.00pm. Discover the marine creatures of 185 million years ago on our fossil walk along the beach. Adults 7, children 3, children under 5 free. Booking advised
Jurassic Boat Trip 3.00pm - 4.00pm.Take a boat trip to Charmouth along the Jurassic Coast and trawl for plankton. Then it's back to the Cobb for a look at the microscopic sea monsters under a microscope. Meet at the Lifeboat Station, the Cobb, Lyme Regis.
Adults 8, children 6. Booking essential.


11 August Rocking Rockpool Day!
Fossil Hunting Walk 10.00am - 12.00pm. Discover the marine creatures of 185 million years ago on our fossil walk along the beach. Adults 7, children 3, children under 5 free. Booking advised
Aquarium Tour 10.30am - 11.30am.Join the marine warden on a guided tour of the aquarium on the Cobb at Lyme Regis. Fantastic local specimens to see and learn all about how they live, love and do lunch. Meet at Lyme Aquarium, the Cobb, Lyme Regis.
Adults 4.50, children 3.50.
Rockpool Ramble 1.00pm - 2.30pm.Discover the wierd and wonderful creatures of the rocky shore on a rockpool ramble with the marine warden. Meet at the Anchor, Cobb Gate car park, Lyme Regis.
Adults 4, children 3.


12 August Save Our Seas Day
Fossil Hunting Walk 11.30am - 1.30pm. Discover the marine creatures of 185 million years ago on our fossil walk along the beach.
Adults 7, children 3, children under 5 free. Booking advised.
Rockpool Ramble 1.30pm - 3.00pm.Discover the wierd and wonderful creatures of the rocky shore on a rockpool ramble with the marine warden. Meet at the Anchor, Cobb Gate car park, Lyme Regis.
Adults 4, children 3.
Fishy Funfair2.30pm - 4.00pm. Play a game at the Fishy Funfair to learn about our oceans and win a prize!
1 a go.


13 August Peculiar Plankton Day
Fossil Hunting Walk
12.00 noon- 2.00pm. Discover the marine creatures of 185 million years ago on our fossil walk along the beach.
Adults 7, children 3, children under 5 free. Booking advised.
Jurassic Boat TripTake a boat trip along the Jurassic Coast and trawl for plankton. Then it's back to the Cobb for a look at the microscopic sea monsters under a microscope. Meet at the Lifeboat station, the Cobb, Lyme Regis. Adults 8, children 6. Booking essential.

Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, Swanage, BH19 2JL 01929 424443


10 August Secrets of the Seashore 2.30pm Join a ranger for a ramble along Swanage North Beach looking for animals and plants hidden along the shore. Meet by the Ocean Bay restaurant on Swanage seafront.
Adults 3, children 2.


11 August Evening Seawatch7pm.Join a ranger at Durlston Country Park to look for passing seabirds 3/2. Booking essential.


12 August Dolphins and the Deep Blue Sea2.30pm.Games and activities to discover more about the amazing lives of the Durlston Dolphins.
3. Booking essential.


Boscombe Pier BH5 1BQ


13 August Surf and Sea Life 10.30amGuided tour highlighting the marine wildlife of the pier and the seafront at Boscombe, led by Boscombe Seafront Services. Freeevent

Studland Beach and Nature Reserve


10 AugustSeashore Safari 10.30am - 12.00pm. A walk along the seashore looking at the many different types of marine life that get washed up on the beach.Meet at the Studland Study Centre, Knoll Beach. Children must be accompanied by an adult 2.50 per person or 8 for a family ticket.

Top Rockpooling Sites in Dorset

Kimmeridge Bay in the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve

Osmington Mills, Weymouth (see below)

Lyme Regis (see right)

Have you a top rockpooling spot in Dorset? Share it with us by adding your comments to the bottom of this article.If you havent already registered to the website click here


Upload your Seashore Safari pictures by clicking on the red'add' button below.

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