Rockpooling in Cornwall

20 July 2018

Ever wondered what you may find in the rockpools around Cornwall as the tide recedes? Well here are a few things to look out for!

The shoreline around Cornwall holds many treasures and surprises, changing daily it offers a never-ending opportunity to explore and discover a fascinating watery world. As the tide drops everyday it reveals a plethora of life that lies unseen at high water. Beautifully coloured shells, jelly-like anemones and surprises lurking under every rock it is a brilliant place to lose a couple of hours.

There are so many different forms of life that call the rock shore their home, here are just a few to look out for and some of their fascinating features that make them so unique.

There are lots of different places to look at when rockpooling. If the shoreline is covered in green seaweed it shows there is a fresh water source nearby so not very good for sea creatures. Move along the shore away from this area.

As you arrive to the shoreline check out the surface of the rocks. You should see lots of snails such as periwinkles and top shells. Limpets and barnacles are also very common here. Limpets suck themselves onto the rock to avoid drying out and predators when the tide goes out. Leave them where they are as they may die of you take them off the rock. Barnacles cover the surface of the rocks and are a relative of crabs! They are stuck to the rock and when the tide comes in a little trap door opens and they wave their fan-like legs around to catch passing food in the water.

You may even see a dog whelk, these snails are definitely not vegetarian. Their shell opening end in a point which is where a sneaky drill comes out and dissolves through shells of other sea creatures. The dog whelk then sucks the creatures out of its shell for its food…..yum!

Further down the shore make sure you use your hands to gently lift the rocks to discover creatures hiding in the dark wet places, waiting for the tide to come back in. Tiny juvenile crabs are often hiding here and cushion and brittle starfish are sometimes stuck to the underneath of the rocks. Satr fish have the most revolting eating habits too! They use their arms to prise open mussels of to lift up limpets, they then bring their stomachs up out of their mouths and wrap them around their food and eating them. What a way to go!

As you go closer to the waters edges squat lobsters, larger crabs, rockling fish and rock gobies all hide here. Keep an eye for the velvet swimming crab though, they are rather nippy! On the underside of rocks look for brightly coloured sponges. When crabs start to get too big for their shells they simply grow a new one underneath their existing one then when they are ready they will moult. They climb out of the back of their old shell revealing a soft new larger shell. If you find a ‘moulter’ leave the soft shelled crab where it is. You don’t want to damage its new shell before it has hardened off. Look out for a crab that looks dead nearby. If it doesn’t smell too bad them it is probably the crab’s old shell it has just climbed out of!

Clare Scott, Great Scott! Adventures Outdoors