Forever Blowing Bubbles

Common Periwinkle Littorina littorea

I don’t know whether periwinkles blow bubbles or not like their terrestrial snail cousins, but this bubble was quite well placed until …

Common Periwinkle Littorina littorea

… it appeared to pop!

Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea), West Shore, Llandudno, Wales.

Coral Weed

Corallina officinalis

Coral Weed (Corallina officinalis)

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.

Coral Weed (Corallina officinalis)

It is typically found lining the edges of mid-shore rock pools. It is common and widespread.

Coral Weed (Corallina officinalis)

Coral Weed (Corallina officinalis)

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.

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.


Estuarine Sand-shrimp (Gammarus duebeni)

Estuarine Sand-shrimp (Gammarus duebeni)

The adult is olive-brown with a laterally flattened body with a curved dorsal outline. It has black kidney-shaped eyes,  dorsal clusters of spines on the last 3 segments of its body, and 2 pairs of long antennae. When out of water it jerks along on its side. Length 16 to 22mm.

It feeds on dead plant and animal material, and hunts small invertebrates.

Found in brackish water and shores with freshwater run-off, estuaries, rocky shore pools, even lakes and rivers. It can tolarate low salinity. Locally common.

Photograph of Estuarine Sand-shrimp (Gammarus duebeni) taken April 2013, West Shore, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Common Prawn

Palaemon serratus

Common Prawn (Palaemon serratus)

The Common Prawn has large eyes and a translucent body with yellow, brown or reddish stripes. It has an elongate body with a fan-shaped telson (last segment, or appendage of the last segment of the abdomen). It has a large upturned rostrum with 6-7 dorsal teeth and 4-5 ventral teeth. The first two pairs of walking legs bear claws, and have red, blue and yellowish banding. It can move very quickly, and is a very inquisitive creature. Length up to 11cm.

It is a ominvore and it will eat virtually anything from dead animal life, to hunting other invertebrates, and to consuming plant material.

Found on the upper to lower shore, in rockpools, amongst seaweeds and under rocks and boulders. Our commonest prawn, it is widespread throughout. Prawns are a valuable food source, and are of extreme commercial interest.

Photograph of Common Prawn (Palaemon 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.