By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jul 2 2017 10:00AM
One of the great family days out for any seasonal family should be rockpooling on one of Britain's may rocky beaches.
Rockpools are harsh environments. The creatures that inhabit them need to be able to survive extremes of temperature, moisture and salinity as well as rough seas and constantly crashing waves. Taking a slightly more scientific approach to your rockpooling will open your eyes to these brutal and competitive self-contained worlds.
The equipment you'll need is very similar to pond-dipping (see June) but tide tables and suitable footwear are essential extras.
You will need:
• A net
• A light coloured bucket or tray
• A magnifying glass
• An identification book
• Tide tables (the biggest rockpools with most life in them are revealed at low tide)
• Wellies or water shoes
As with pond dipping, half fill your tray or bucket with water then use your net to explore the pool, especially the weedy edges and gently turn your net out into the tray. You'll be able to pick some shells and slower-moving crabs out by hand. With some creatures, especially hermit crabs, they will retreat into their shells as you approach or touch them so wait for a few minutes and watch them re-emerge.
Look out for:
• Small fish like blennies, goby and pipefish
• Crustacea like shrimp, crabs and lobsters
• Molluscs and other shellfish like mussels, whelks, winkles and limpets
• Seaweeds like kelp, sea lettuce and bladderwrack
• Anemonies, starfish and sea urchins
Carefully return everything to the rockpool when you leave and always be aware of the rising tide. Rocks covered in seaweed or algae can be extremely slippery so tread carefully.
"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."