YOUNG WILDCATS – Seashore finds at Port Alltan na Bradhan

August 22nd 2018

Young eyes often spot things older ones might have missed.  So it was on 4th August 2018, when my nephew and his wife, up on a visit from London, were exploring the seashore at Port Alltan na Bradhan (NC0526) with their children Zahra and Zacharie.

The first seashore find was a fish which had become stranded in shallow water in a rock pool.  It was about 14cm long, with a large head bearing thick pale lips.  The pectoral fins were large and fan-shaped, tiny pelvic fins were just visible beneath the throat, and the dorsal fin was long and continuous, with a slight notch separating unequal front and rear parts. These features identify it as a shanny Lipophrys pholis, one of several members of the blenny family found in intertidal waters around the British Isles.  It feeds on barnacles and algae and lays its eggs on the underside of rocky crevices, where the male guards them and fans them to keep them oxygenated. This individual was returned to deeper water after being photographed.

The second was a very large limpet shell, which I spotted as the family were packing to return home.  The young finder kindly agreed (under no pressure, honestly!) to swap it for a handful of other shells from my own collection. A fair exchange since I had never seen one like it before.  It is 68mm long and 53mm broad, but only 16mm tall, with an off-centre blunt apex. In addition it is beautifully ornamented with alternating broad and narrow radiating ridges.  These are the distinguishing features of the china limpet Patella ulyssiponensis. This is a species apparently widespread around north-western coasts, but unfamiliar to the local naturalists to whom I later showed it.

Ian M. Evans

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