Egg Wrack Wool

Polysiphonia lanosa

Egg Wrack Wool (Polysiphonia lanosa)

A brownish-red seaweed which is tufted and made up of branching filaments which gives it a wool-like consistancy. Length 70cm.

Egg Wrack Wool (Polysiphonia lanosa)

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.

Toothed Wrack

Fucus serratus

Toothed Wrack (Fucus serratus)

Also called “Saw Wrack’ or ‘Serrated Wrack’, this is an olive to golden brown seaweed, flattened with a prominant midrib and saw-toothed fronds.  Length 60cm. Frond width 2cm.

Toothed Wrack (Fucus serratus)

Found on the lower zone, it latches onto rocks on more sheltered shores. A common and widespread species.

Photographs of Toothed Wrack (Fucus serratus), taken August 2015, in rock pool  Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Dog Whelk

Nucella lapillus

The Dog Whelk’s shell is variable in colour, from white to dark brown, yellow or banded. Thick-shelled, it is broadly conical bearing spiral ridges with a short spire. Shell height 3 to 5cm.

It is a fierce predator of mussels, barnacles and other molluscs. It bores a hole into the prey’s shell using its radula. Its digestive juices dissolve the prey and it sucks it up with its proboscis. It produces yellow egg capsules which are fixed in clusters under rocks. It can live for up to 10 years.

Found in all types of rocky shores from the middle shore downwards, on rocks, under overhangs and in crevices. Common and widespread.

Photographs taken April 2014, Llanduno, Wales, and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.


Sir Chiton

Grey Chiton (Lepidochitona cinerea)

I enjoy being nosy in rock pools when I visit the coast, and when I first set eyes on one of these I had no idea what it was, so I had to look it up. It is a mollusc, and this particular species has only been around for about 500 million years, and belong to one of the oldest animal groups on earth. And in all that time it has hardly changed at all.

Chitons are also called ‘Sea Cradles or ‘Coat-of-Mail Shells’ because they look like interlinked chain mail. At first glance they may look like tiny fossils, but they are living creatures. The shell is composed of eight arched plates which fit closely together. They cling to the rock surface by a large muscular foot and the form of the shell helps them especially on uneven surfaces. The body is oval-shaped, and chitons can curl up into balls like woodlice, their hardened shells helping to protect them. The colours are variable with alternating light and dark bands. They can grow up to 28mm in length.

They feed by using a radula, a kind of mollusc tongue which they use to scrape off and eat microscopic algae growing on the surface of the rocks.

The Grey Chiton can be found on the lower shore affixed to rocks in rock pools. This is the most common and widespread chiton to be found in the intertidal zone.

Photograph taken April 2014, Llandudno, Wales.

Purple Topshell

Gibbula umbilicalis

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.

Common Shore Crab

Carcinus maenas

Also called the ‘European Green Crab’, this crab is fairly variable in colour, but typically marbled dark green, brown or reddish. It has an angular-oval carapace with 5 teeth on each side and 3 rounded lobes between the eyes. Carapace width up to 10cm.

The Common Shore Crab is a scavenger of carrion and plant material, it also feeds on molluscs, other crustaceans and worms.

Found on all shore types middle to lower shore, under seaweed or rocks, and in rock pools. Common and widespread. Britain’s most commonest seashore crab.

Photographs taken April 2014, Llanduno, Wales and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon

Flat Periwinkle

Littorina obtusata

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.

Sea Lettuce

Ulva lactuca

A pale to dark green seaweed, which has no midrib. It has wavy edges and translucent green fronds.  Length 40cm.

Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

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.

Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales, and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.