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"Dark Skies & Rockpools" and Shooting Stars and Moving Limpets and...

Posted: Monday 27th June 2016 by LivingSeas

Rockpool at Night!You had to be there, the camera can't pick up the biofluorescence!

Preparing for the summer events programme is always best done well before. Unlike that certain wintery celebration, the name of which should pass no-one’s lips until at least October, the summer season can be planned for several months beforehand with no complaints, only smiles and a few gulps when we peruse the calendars.

Excitingly, this year, I’ve been able to enhance the programme of events with two exciting new additions. The first was Nia’s wish – Night-time rockpooling. The second came from my accidental discovery of a local underwater art award winner (Kim Atkinson), tied with her more than accommodating attitude to get involved. We give you our – Snorkelling art workshop in early September (more about that another time).

These being new and quite challenging events has meant we’ve needed to factor in a reccie or two. Plenty of offers of help later and a merry bunch of staff and volunteers made our way to the shore in the pitch black in May this year. Most noticeable on first arrival at the beach on a moonless night is, even after you allow your eyes to develop their night vision, your hearing takes over. The waves seem louder, the roosting wader calls clearer and the breeze moves the vegetation higher up the shore, something you don’t seem to notice in daylight. It just feels even wilder and we were, as a consequence, being intrepid!

The shore comes alive at night. It’s only after doing daytime rockpooling sessions will you notice it as keenly as we did. The sandhoppers, for a start, are beyond successful in living up to their name, right along the sand’s stretch in places. We saw loads of crabs of various species sitting out on rocks and in rockpool centres. Limpets were on the move and the prawns looked like they’d been given a new toy of headlights which they were playing with to full effect in the torchlight. 

It just feels even wilder and we were, as a consequence, being intrepid!

Exciting finds still took time and some effort to spot; sea scorpion and swimming worm species. The magical moment arrived when we got to use our new toy to see if we could spot any creatures or algae exhibiting biofluourescence. Different than bioluminescence the organisms aren’t creating their own light, just reflecting back our blue LED light at a different wavelength (more information on the difference here). We saw plenty of biofluourescent algae glowing a red light, which looked almost artificial, it was that red. However, with no creatures exhibiting the same talent this time our thoughts turn to summer. With more creatures on our shores we’ll be expecting even greater things as we lead our night-time rockpooling event. Next time it will be under the perseid meteor shower!

Big night out, just got bigger!

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