Rockpools are the perfect introduction to marine biology. In a few square meters you have, literally, a bird’s eye view of an entire ecosystem. With just a net and a magnifying glass you can find everything from the tiniest plankton to fish and crabs, representing an entire food chain. The foreshore can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our environment as well. Indicator species can be used to inform us of climate change, pollution events or invasive species.
The beaches and rockpools capture the attention and imagination and interest of adults and children alike.
Shoresearch harnesses the joy of rockpooling to collect data from around the UK and created Shoresearch. Shoresearch is a citizen science programme for members of the public who would like to learn more about the marine environment and contribute to our understanding of the foreshore.
We’re lucky to have some amazing intertidal chalk reefs in Sussex. They soft chalk reefs and gullies are full of life and over the past few years we’ve been able to track the distribution of snakelocks anemones as the warmer waters causes their habitat to expand.
Recently, Sussex Wildlife Trust has been surveying Marine Conservation Zones. We have been collecting data in recommended zones to strengthen the case for their designation and so we visited Selsey Bill and the Hounds recommended MCZ. It is a shingle and sand beach and at first glance it looks flat and fairly barren, not an ideal site for rockpooling. But looking just a little closer reveals something very different. We spent almost an hour and a half scouring just 20m of groyne which revealed a huge amount of life. Several species of anemones, fish, crabs, barnacles, limpets, even a common grey nudibranch laying a tell-tale string of eggs.
Not only do we get useful data from rockpooling, it’s also really good fun. Adults and children alike get involved, stuck in and come away having learned more about what’s available right at their feet.