We spent the best couple of hours today on a Rock Pool Ramble organised by Polzeath Marine Conservation Association and led by their volunteers and those of the National Trust in North Cornwall.
Join marine experts, Polzeath volunteers, and National Trust rangers on one of our famous explorations of the shore! With dates throughout the year, you have a chance to discover the wonders of the rockpools, from rare Celtic sea slugs to stalked jellyfish and an abundance of crabs. Lead by National Trust Rangers.
We weren’t really quite sure what to expect but had a wonderful morning examining the rock pools, learning about all sorts of wildlife and having anything we found identified. The format was super casual – we were accompanied by loads of volunteers and rangers, which was particularly welcome as that meant we could concentrate on looking in the pools, knowing someone else was keeping an eye out for the tide. The team brought along a load of white buckets and specimen catchers and we all had a go before gathering round to see what everyone had found and have things identified.
If you are visiting Polzeath any time this is one not to miss – I learnt just as much as Pip and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, you don’t *need* an organised ramble so I’ve shared some of tips below that I thought might be helpful if you’re going yourself. We will certainly be going again, both on the organised version and by ourselves.
What to bring
A beach in August will obviously be hot and sunny so no need to worry about being warm and dry… of course, this week has been anything but warm and dry, so first and foremost I would suggest a waterproof! You also will not want to worry about your feet – I bought some gloriously unstylish waterproof shoes from the local surf shop which were perfect. Pip insisted on wearing her Saltwater sandals which she will barely take off – had the weather been nicer I might have worn mine too, but I like to err on the side of being warm.
You will also need a bucket – we brought along a clear crabbing one that was great, and if you can get hold of a bigger white one that does make looking at some of the larger specimens easier. We were shown at the start how to be careful to not disturb the marine life – if you lift a stone, put it back, etc – and to not use nets but specimen scoopers (most of which had been made from cut off plastic bottles with taped edges and string handles, so super easy to make at home. There were also some clear plastic pots, probably hummus tubs or similar, so again, easy to get even if you’re on holiday.
We also benefitted from the spotters guide which we bought for 50p from the team, and they brought down some guide books to look through as well, which Pip was particularly taken with.
The rangers were all so knowledgeable and so friendly – Pip had loads of questions and they patiently ansered them all. The other benefit to an organised ramble such as this one was that they knew how and where to look for certain things – and were also able to identify without having to look it up which was particularly lovely. We spent some time with one of the volunteers that was on a university placement and she showed Pip a strawberry anenome and a daisy anenome and helped Pip feel the tentacles and explained how it caught its prey.
What did we find?
Well, we did see a Celtic sea cucumber which was super tiny, much more so than I expected.
That is a daisy anenome, but quite hard to spot at the back under the rocks in the middle.
Pip found several baby crabs – and other people found all manner of other different crabs, fish, shrimps, sea weed – and also sadly a few bits of plastic which we scooped out and took back to recycle.
We also saw a cushion starfish, the shell of a spider crab which had been abandoned when its owner needed to upscale to a larger model and the strange brain like roots of seaweed which had been ripped from its mooring in stormy weather.
All in all a fascinating day and one which I’d highly recommend.