Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis) Exmouth, Devon. August 2019 © Pete Hillman.
I love how the sunlight sparkles and shimmers within the rippling movement of the waters on the coast. These are abstract worlds which I would like to glimpse more often than I do, full of the richness of life and wonder. These images feature what I believe is a seaweed called Gutweed (Ulva intestinalis).
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer
Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.
I have shown the two gaper shells on one post to illustrate how different they are, beginning with the Sand Gaper above.
Sand Gaper (Mya arenaria)
A large and robust bivalve, the shell is oval in shape, the anterior end rounded, the posterior end more pointed. It has concentric ridges and is off-white, grey or light brown in colour. Shell length 15cm.
The Sand Gaper burrows to a depth of 50cm into mud and sandflats, where it filters organic matter from sea water. It is often found in estuaries, and is widespread and locally common.
Blunt Gaper (Mya truncata)
A thick-shelled, robust bivalve, rectangular in shape with a truncate posterior margin. It also has numerous concentric lines and is off-white in colour. Shell length up to 70mm.
It is commonly found in estuaries where it buries itself to a fair depth. Widespread and locally common, especially on the east coast of Britain.
Photographs taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2013.
The shell of the Common Cockle is cream to pale yellow or brownish, and it has 22-28 radiating ribs crossed by prominant concentric ridges which may bare short spines. Length up to 5cm.
It is found in muddy, sandy and fine gravel shores, from the middle to lower shore. Utilising a muscular foot, it burrows up to 5cm into the sand, and when covered by water they open their shells and extend a pair of short siphons to filter-feed on zooplankton. It can live up to 10 years, and is fished commercially and prayed upon by wading birds. It is common and widespread.
Photographs of Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
The shell has numerous fine, concentric rings and grooves. It is dirty white, yellowish or greyish in colour, and is flat, thin and delicate in form. Length 6.5cm.
It is found in sheltered, brackish habitats, like estuaries and muddy shores where it burrows up to 20cm, leaving behind a star-shaped tell-tale impression on the surface. It is a deposit-feeder, and when the inhalant siphon is extended it is often eaten by crabs, fish and wading birds, but it is regrown fairly quickly. Common and widespread all around the UK.
Photographs of Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
The colour of the shell is pale cream or yellowish, usually marked with three prominent radiating brown bands. It is fairly thick and has fine concentric ridges. Length 4cm.
It is found buried in the lower shore to sublittoral, and it can live up to 10 years. Common and widespread on all coasts, except the south-east coast of England.
Photographs of Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
This mollusc has a shiny white to yellow, purple or greyish-brown slender wedge-shaped shell. Growth stages show as pale bands. The inner surfaces are tinted white, purple, yellow or orange. Length up to 38mm.
Found on the middle to lower shore where it burrows into coarse sand and lives just below the surface. The Banded Wedge Shell is a filter feeder, and when the tide is in it extracts food particles from the water via a syphon. Common and widespread on all British and Irish coasts, but less common further north on Scottish coastlines.
Photographs of Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
The Necklace Shell has a buff to pale yellow shell with a spiral row of brownish marks near its upper edge. Similar to Alder’s Necklace Shell which is smaller and darker. Shell height up to 3cm.
It is found buried in the lower shore, in sheltered to moderately exposed sand. It feeds on small bivalves by drilling a round hole through its shell. Common and widespread along all British coasts.
Photographs of Necklace Shell (Polinices catenus), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
This seaweed has a feathery appearance with its regular, opposing branched pattern. It varies in colour due to age and lighting conditions. The deeper it is it grows dark pink. It has a pink, disc-shaped encrusting holdfast which helps it anchor itself to rocks, shells or other larger seaweeds. It can grow up to 12cm in height.
It is typically found lining the edges of mid-shore rock pools. It is common and widespread.
Photographs of Coral Weed (Corallina officinalis), taken August 2015, in rock pool Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
The shell is elongate, thin and brittle. There are numerous fine concentric lines, with a group of fine radiating striae. It is white or light brown, light olive or yellow. The hinge and ligament is positioned about a third of the way along the length of the mollusc. Length up to 130mm.
It burrows deeply in fine to medium course sands in the lower shore and shallow sublittoral. Found on the south-west coasts of England, Wales and Ireland.
Photographs of Bean Solen (Pharus legumen), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.
Also called ‘Sugar Kelp’ or ‘Poor Man’s Weatherglass’, this is a long, belt-like brown to olive coloured seaweed with wavy edges and a crinkled centre. Length 4cm.
It grows in deep pools and around the low tide mark, usually on sheltered rocky shores attached to rocks with a small branching holdfast. A common and widespread species.
Photographs of Sea Belt (Saccharina latissima), taken August 2015, in rock pool Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
A brownish-red seaweed which is tufted and made up of branching filaments which gives it a wool-like consistancy. Length 70cm.
Found middle to low shore, and grows mainly on Egg Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) for physical support, known as an epiphyte. It makes use of the hosts buoyancy at high tide so it will gain more sunlight. Common and widespread throughout the British coastline.
Photographs of Egg Wrack Wool (Polysiphonia lanosa), taken August 2015, in rock pool Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
This limpet has a humped, smooth shell with variegation in colour, usually pinkish, orangey, cream or purplish. It has a fairly thick shell with a shelf on the underside, which resembles a slipper. Shell length 5cm. Shell height 2.5cm.
It is found on the lower shore, attached to rocks and other shells, and they form stacks of up to ten individuals or more. They begin life as males, and then change progressively to become females. An introduced species from north-east America in 1887, the Slipper Limpet is quite an invasive species which competes with native oysters for space and food, and is also a threat to Common Mussel beds. Common and widespread.
Photographs of American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
The Variegated Scallop has rather an elongated, flattened shell, which come in a variation of colours from orange to purple, yellow and greys, which can often be mixed. The ribs of the shell bear spines. Shell length 6cm.
It inhabits the lower shore, on rocks and seaweed holdfasts attached by a byssus. It feeds by filtering organic matter from the sea water. It is a sequential hermaphrodite, maturing as a male and then changing its sex several times during its life. It is common and widespread.
Photographs of Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.
Sand Mason Worm (Lanice conchilega)
The Sand Mason Worm fashions a tube made from cemented sand grains and tiny fragments of seashell. It has a frayed edge around the mouth, and can be seen at low tide protruding from the sandy beach.
The worm itself is pink, yellowish or greenish with white tentacles and red gills. It can have up to 300 segments, and grows up to 30cm long.
It may be found solitary or in great masses, and as many as several thousand can be within one square metre. Found on exposed and sheltered beaches where it feeds on organic food particles beneath the water via its tentacles which protrude from the top of its protective tube. Common and widespread.
Photograph taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales.
Also called the ‘Flat Topshell’, the shell is dull green, cream or grey with broad red-purple diagonal stripes. It is a relatively small flattened topshell with a large round umbilicus (a deep hole on the underside of the shell). Shell length 1.6mm.
Seen on the uppershore in rockpools and on open rocks. This gastropod feeds on microscopic algae, which it grazes from rock surfaces using a brush-like radula on the tongue. Found on the western shores of the UK.
Photographs taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales, and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.
Also called the ‘Flat Oyster’ or the ‘Native Oyster’, it has a thick, rough textured grey-brown shell. It has a deeply cupped left valve, and a smaller flat right valve. Shell diameter 10cm.
The Common Oyster is the only native oyster, and is an important source of food for humans and other animals and birds. It also produces pearls. It forms beds around the low-water mark of estuaries and open shores, found attached to rocks or other shells. Widely distributed around the British coasts, but less so on the east and north-east coasts. Its population has suffered a sharp decline due to over fishing, pollution and disease.
Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno Wales and August 2012, Bournemouth.
The colour of the shell of this small snail varies depending on its habitat, and it can be green, orange, yellow, brown or black. There are also banded and chequered patterned forms. The head tentacles of the animal have two lines along them. The shell is finely reticulate. Shell height up to 1.5cm.
Found on the middle to lower shower on large brown seaweeds such as Egg Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) and Toothed Wrack (Fucus serratus) on which it feeds. Common on widespread throughout.
Photographs taken August 2015, rockpool, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.
Also called the ‘Common Razor Shell’, the shell is dull white with a yellowish tinted pink or purple colour. It is a large species, long and narrow, and the largest European species of razor shell. Length up to 20mm.
It is found on the lower shore buried in a deep vertical burrow from where it filter-feeds organic detritus via a pair of short siphons. It can live up to 20 years. Common and widespread.
Photographs taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales, and August 2012, Bournemouth.
A pale to dark green seaweed, which has no midrib. It has wavy edges and translucent green fronds. Length 40cm.
The Sea Lettuce is tolerant of most conditions, except extreme exposure. It is found throughout the intertidal zone on rocky shores, estuaries, and free-floating. It may also be discovered attached to rocks or stones in rockpools. A common and widespread species.
Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales, and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.