Give It Some Mussel

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)  Exmouth, Devon. August 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Keeping Balance

Shanklin Beach

On a stroll across a quieter section of beach where the tide had gone out I came across this little arrangement of rocks. They kind of reminded me of the remains of a prehistoric cairn, although this is most likely child’s play.


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Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Coming In To Land

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

Herring Gull Larus argentatus Juvenille

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Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) juvenille, Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Spot The Little Fishy

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

I believe these are Shanny (Lipophrys pholis), also called Blenny. As the tide pulled out it left these crystal clear pools of water and in them they teemed with these young fish which moved nimbly through the shallow water. They are so well adapted to their environment you would hardly notice them until they moved.

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

Shanny Lipophrys pholis

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Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England, August 2018 © Pete Hillman.

Underwater

Ocean

No special effects used here. Just a photo as it is, taken from a clifftop and looking down at the shallows below as the tide rolled in and softly kissed and melted the rocky coastline.

Double click image to dive in …

April 2017, from atop the Great Orme, Llandudno, Wales.

Where The Waves Take Me

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis, August 2017, Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England.

Colonising The Sea Defences

Common Limpet Patella vulgata

Common Limpet Patella vulgata, August 2017, Shanklin, Isle of White, England.

Sitting Pretty

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

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Photograph of  Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)  taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2013.

Two Gapers

Sand Gaper (Mya arenaria)

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)

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.

 

Baltic Tellin

Macoma balthica

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

The shell is a rounded-oval, although the posterior more angled. The colour is variable from pink to purple, yellow and white. Width 25mm.

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

It is found on the lower shore in muddy sand, and also in estuaries. Common and widespread.

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2012.

Common Cockle

Cerastoderma edule

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

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.

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

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.

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

Photographs of Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Peppery Furrow

Scrobicularia plana

Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana)

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.

Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana)

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.

Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana)

Photographs of Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Striped Venus Clam

Chamelea gallina

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

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.

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

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.

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

Photographs of Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Banded Wedge Shell

Donax vittatus

Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus)

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.

Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus)

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.

Necklace Shell

Polinices catenus

Necklace Shell (Polinices catenus)

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.

Bean Solen

Pharus legumen

Bean Solen (Pharus legumen)

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.

Bean Solen (Pharus legumen)

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.

Bean Solen (Pharus legumen)

Photographs of Bean Solen (Pharus legumen), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Common Limpet

Patella vulgata

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

Have you ever wondered what the underside of a limpet looked like? Note the large muscular foot, the relatively small mouth above, and the tentacles either side.

The Common Limpet has an ashen-grey or greenish-blue shell, sometimes with a yellow tint, and with radiating ridges. It is conical with an almost central apex. The shell is often covered in barnacles. The sole of the foot is yellowish or orange-brownish with a green tinge. Shell length 6cm. They are fairly long-lived, up to 15 years.

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

It inhabits the intertidal zone, clinging tightly to rocks along the shore or in rock pools, and with its thick shell it is able to withstand the pounding ocean waves, exposure to drying out, and attacks from birds or fish. It grazes on algae growing on the rocks beneath the water. It is not ‘stuck’ in one position as it may always appear to be, but follows a mucous trail as it feeds and finds it way back. Scarring maybe evident on the substrate where it has ground it down to get the perfect fit. Common and widespread around the British coasts.

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

Photographs of Common Limpet (Patella vulgata), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Common Mussel

Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Also called the ‘Blue Mussel’, the shells are dark brown, blue-black, or purple in colour. Shell length up to 10cm.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

It is found middle to lower shore, and attaches itself to rocks via byssus threads. It will also find crevices in the rocks, or attach themselves to manmade structures like piers and harbour walls. They can form large beds up to 6 layers thick and covering many square kilometres. Mussels are filter feeders of plankton, pumping large amounts of water through their bodies to extract the food.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Very common and widespread all around the British coast.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

This is an edible marine mussel which has been harvested by humans for centuries. They are a rich source of protein, and are very important to the marine life ecosystem.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Photographs of Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Oystercatcher

Haematopus ostralegus

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

This is one of the larger waders, and certainly one of the most distinctive with its black and white body, dazzling red-eye and long, vivid orange-red bill. It has short, pale pink legs, and long and  broad white wingbars with a white ‘V’ on its back can be seen when in flight. In the winter it has a white-collar and a dark-tipped bill. Length 40 to 45cm.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

They feed in large groups probing sand and mud with their long bills for marine worms and molluscs, or they prise shellfish from rocks along with seaweed. They will also eat earthworms and other invertebrates when venturing inland if food is in short supply on the coast. They breed on almost all UK coasts, and within the past 50 years further inland. They form a shallow scrape in shingle or sand, often amongst rocks or grassy tussocks where they lay 2 or 3 eggs in 1 brood from April to July. They can live for up to 15 years.

Seen all year round, and they often occur in enormous tight flocks where they may dominate whole estuaries. Also seen on sandy, muddy, and rocky beaches, grassy islands, shingle or riverside grassland, and grassy fields. They are common and widespread, occurring on almost all UK coasts. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast, where on the east coast their numbers maybe increased by birds from Norway. The RSPB have given them an amber status due to their vulnerability of the over-fishing of cockle beds which they rely on for food.

A very noisey bird, especially as they form tightly packed flocks, producing penetrating kleep sounds.

Photographs of Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Prasiola stipitata

Prasiola stipitata

This is a small, dark green lettuce-like algae when wet, which forms flaky coatings over rocks and boulders. Length 1cm.

It grows on rocks and stones in the splash zone, mostly frequented by seabirds which drop their faeces from which it gets its nitrates to flourish. A common and widespread species, but mainly seen in spring and early summer.

Prasiola stipitata

Photographs of Prasiola stipitata taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Purple Laver

Porphyra umbilicalis

Purple Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis)

Greenish in colour when young, but becoming purple-red as it matures, and is very resistant to drying out and the action of the waves. It forms thin, delicate sheets which cling to rocks and has a polythene-like texture. Width 20cm.

Purple Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis)

Found attached to rocks in sandy habitats. Abundant and widespread on rocky shores throughout.

Purple Laver is used to make laverbread in Wales, which is a traditional Welsh recipe.

Photographs of Purple Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis) taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Sea Belt

Saccharina latissima

Sea Belt (Saccharina latissima)

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.

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.

Spiral Wrack

Fucus spiralis

Spiral Wrack (Fucus spiralis)

Also called ‘Flat Wrack’, it is a dark olive-brown or greenish seaweed with a prominent midrib with no gas bladders. There are often pairs of swollen reproductive bodies on the tips of the frond branches. The fronds have a tendency to twist. Length 15 to 20cm.

Occurring on the upper shore, preferring sheltered to moderately exposed shores, where they cling to the hard surfaces. It also extends well into estuaries. It reproduces from July to September. A common and widespread species.

Photograph of Spiral Wrack (Fucus spiralis) taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Channelled Wrack

Pelvetia canaliculata

Channelled Wrack (Pelvetia canaliculata)

This seaweed is dark greenish-brown in colour when dry and yellow when wet. It has no gas bladders, the fronds have no midribs, and they are curled along the length forming a channel. Height 15cm.

Found on the upper shore attached to rocks. Reproduces from August to September. It is very resiliant to desiccation, and can survive for up to eight days without water. A common and widespread species.

Photograph of Channelled Wrack (Pelvetia canaliculata) taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Egg Wrack

Ascophyllum nodosum

Egg Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum)

Also called ‘Knotted Wrack’, this is a yellowish to olive-green seaweed, which has long, narrow chain-like fronds with gas-filled bladders. This is a slow-growing seaweed which has no mid-rib. Height 0.5 to 2m.

Found on rocky shores, often on the mid-shore, preferring sheltered conditions, extending into estuaries and usually attached to rocks. It reproduces April to June. Egg Wrack Wool (Polysiphonia lanosa) is commonly found attached to it in clumps. A common and widespread species.

Photograph of Egg Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

American Slipper Limpet

Crepidula fornicata

American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata)

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.

American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata)

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.

Variegated Scallop

Chlamys varia

Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia)

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.

Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia)

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.

Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia)

Photographs of Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Airborn

On the coast, I enjoyed a couple of hours watching and photographing Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), floating on air currents along the top of the cliffs. This one was a juvenille, which began to turn, and came quite low overhead.

This type of photography can be quite a challenge, but with some practise you can master panning, following the subject. You have to try to keep your focus, of course, and you have to watch you don’t follow the gull directly into the glare of the sun. I took over 300 photographs in this session, and hoped some came out reasonably well, at least.

Photographs taken of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) July 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

On The Cliff’s Edge

Photographs of a collection of wild flowers and grasses taken August 2016, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.