Clashnessie beach: First visit
Our first visit for the Community-led Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Project was on a chilly but bright morning on 14th February, when four of us, led by Charlie Leeson, marked out with a long tape a 30m transect from the cliff into the boulder bed (photos 1-3). We then started trying to sort out what was where on the shore, recording the most obvious organisms, such as barnacles and seaweeds, at different levels. Although most of us had done some marine biology, if in the remote past, we were soon reminded that putting a precise name to what you find can be quite challenging.
We retreated after a couple of hours, when the tide began to turn and our fingers finally lost all sensation, and moved to the Summers’ house in Clachtoll to warm up, have lunch and discuss the results.
The provisional tally was two lichens, nine seaweeds (green, brown and red), eight molluscs, four crustaceans (including two barnacles), two worms, two anemones and a sponge.
Initially puzzling was a variant of bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus form linearis), attached to isolated boulders high on the shore, which has no bladders (photo 4).
The undersides of boulders (carefully replaced) provided plenty of variety. A small ragworm (probably Perinereis cultrifera) was spotted amongst the sinuous tubes of keelworms Spirobranchus sp.(photo 5). However, we were stumped by an orange jelly-like organism in the boulder bed. This was about the size of a large thumbnail and encrusted with shell fragments (photo 6). It was later identified as a dahlia anemone Urticina felina.
Further details of what we found and where we found it may be found in the notes attached here.
So far, our approach qualifies as Monitoring of the Rocky Shore Zonation at a Moderate level of expertise. With our appetites whetted, we hope to make regular visits to improve our knowledge of the site and its wildlife.
Ian M. Evans