For me, and my three-year-old daughter, rockpooling is the best thing you can do at the seaside. Rockpooling is rewarding and productive, and really can involve the whole family – all you need is a rocky beach and to be there at low tide, and the world is your oyster, mussel, whelk or cockle!
If you do some research beforehand, you will benefit endlessly. Try to plan your visit to a recommended site and check the tide times for low water tides. Spring tides are best as they reveal the very best pools and the best wildlife – species which you normally only find underwater, such as lobsters, spider crabs and small fish.
Highlights of a good day out can include a mermaid’s purse (dogfish eggs that are like a tiny womb – hold them up to the light and you can see the developing embryo inside), squat lobsters and crabs hiding under rocks, common prawns darting about in the open water, blennies changing colour to match their background, cushion stars and starfish.
Beautiful beadlet anemones can only feed when their entire body is covered by water. Find one and watch it feeding – you may even tempt it if you dangle a bit of bacon in front of it. Then there’s the aptly named butterfish, found under rocks and seaweed, which is very slippery and a difficult one to catch. Look for limpets that are underwater and see if they have moved from their mark on the rocks to feed on the surrounding algae.
Also keep a lookout for dogwhelks near mussels and check the mussels for holes – this is how the whelks feed, by drilling a hole in the mussel shell and sucking out the contents.
Miranda Krestovnikoff travels the length and breadth of Britain for The One Show, uncovering the little-known creatures in our well-known places. She is also one of the regular presenters on Coast. Catch The One Show, weekdays at 7pm on BBC One.
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