Slugs and Stars at Northcott Mouth

Recently the ranger team joined Matt Slater from Cornwall Wildlife Trust and members of Cornwall Wildlife Trust Tamar Group in completing a PANACHE Shoresearch survey at Northcott Mouth. Timed to coincide with the recent spring tides, we went on the hunt for various species that would provide evidence in support of the Hartland Point to Tintagel Marine Conservation Zone.

To our delight we discovered a wealth of wildlife. Among the snails and mussels, we spied limpets on the move, dog whelk eggs hiding in cracks in the rock, a spiny starfish and a miniscule cushion starfish.

Not to mention a few confused shore crabs, brightly coloured anemones as far as the eye could see and a Montagu’s blenny (Coryphoblennius galerita) identifiable by its rakish crest, composed of a line of fringed tentacles between its eyes.

The wreck of SS Belem can be seen emerging out of the sand at low tide and provides a home for an incredible colony of honeycomb worm (Sabellaria alveolata). These special creatures are a feature of our local beaches. Spectacular reefs are constructed on areas of hard rock (or shipwrecks!) by worms slowly building small, interlocking tubes out of sand. These structures become home to other shore-dwelling animals, including, in the case of Northcott Mouth, a large community of Celtic sea slugs (Onchidella celtica).

If you want to learn more, why not come along to our Rockpooling with the rangers event on Wednesday 3o July at Sandymouth. Meet at the National Trust money box in Sandymouth car park (EX23 9HW) at 1pm, ready to explore the rockpools of Sandymouth beach.

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