Shoresearch rocky shore surveys May 2021

Shoresearch Llandudno May 21 - North Wales Wildlife Trust

After a very rainy first half of May we saw sunny skies for our end of the month Shoresearches. We revisited the sites from previous surveys – “RHOSNEIGR REEFS” (Site of Special Scientific Interest -SSSI), “GLANLLYNNAU A GLANNAU PEN-Y-CHAIN I GRICIETH” (SSSI) at Criccieth and “PEN Y GOGARTH” SSSI, at Llandudno. We also visited North shore at Llandudno for a short introduction to the site.

Number of volunteers overall – 7

Number of quadrats sampled – 13xMidshore 9xlowshore

Time spent in timed species searches – 15x10minutes

Seasonal findings – we’re finding eggs on the shore much more now and actually, as well as finding them ourselves, we’ve heard reports from across the west coast shores of netted dog whelk eggs (Tritia reticulata) being found on all sorts (algae, shark eggcases etc). Has this been a bumper breeding year for these mottled brown and orange molluscs?

Our introduction to the North Shore rocks was interesting overall, but a special find was made by Charlie Welsh of one of the larger of our sea slugs. Although they can be tricky to identify, let's call this the grey sea slug/Môr-wlithen lwyd (Aeolidia papillosa). Munchers of anemones in the inter-tidal often, these two were found mating and laying their eggs (those white bands on the rock). We, of course, turned the rocked back over gently and left them to it. 

probably Grey sea slug/Môr-wlithen lwyd - Clare and Charlie Welsh

probably Grey sea slug/Môr-wlithen lwyd - Clare and Charlie Welsh

This May’s surveys were undertaken during Invasive Species Week. Our timed searches, undertaken in the time left after carrying out the quadrat surveys, were spent looking for a variety of Marine species which are making in roads or are already problematic in the area – Wireweed, Slipper limpets, Wakame.

Species feature: Molly Jones had a spectacular sighting at Criccieth during the timed species searches – a Greater pipefish/pibell fôr fawr (Syngnathus acus). Another (see April’s Species Feature) male taking charge of the child care. These are related to seahorses and you can probably see that in Molly’s pictures, here by looking at the head shape. A more common find around our intertidal areas might actually be the worm pipefish a smaller thinner fish but still a caring dad.

Greater pipefish/pibell fôr fawr (Syngnathus acus) - Molly Jones

Greater pipefish/pibell fôr fawr (Syngnathus acus) - Molly Jones

Sue found a lovely patch of one of those sponges we can identify due to its position on the shore, mostly. The breadcrumb sponge/spwng bara (Halichondria panicea) is a pale hued (but seen in many differing colours) and granular. It’s one of the many encrusting sponges we have around the UK.

The Shoresearch surveys are designed to help monitor some areas of shore by recording what volunteers find within a small square area at repeated areas across a shore. Training is given to the volunteers who sign up to help us carry out these surveys.

We are liaising with other organisations to hone these surveys, so they become a vital tool in the help to monitor wildlife in our intertidal areas. Whilst they can also help to introduce volunteers to the species which live in this intertidal zone, the ideal is to build up some regular teams to regularly survey certain areas, building a clearer picture over the long term and in particular to keep an eye out for Invasive species and Climate change indicators.

If you would like to join us to volunteer your time at our repeated survey sites, then please get in touch. It is likely to be just one 2-3 hr session out on shore once every 3 months at the least (ideally monthly), as well as any time you can spare to do online training or website reading.