Sunday, February 12, 2017

Skye - Spawnographic Content

Beautiful, sunny day today so I took myself down to the beach for low-tide shenanigans. I headed down to the water's edge, as far down the shore as I could manage without getting wet. Lifting stones seemed the best bet of finding seashore stuff, but then I spotted an actual rockpool (rare as rocking horse shit over here!) Only about 7ft by 4ft and all of 5" deep, but better than nothing. I carefully began lifting stones and before long I found this truly remarkable-looking creature

It's a leucistic tadpole  Montagu's Sea Snail !!!
I recognised what this was but simply couldn't remember the name. All I kept thinking was juvenile Lumpsucker, bizarrely. A quick look in the book reminded me, yes of course - Montagu's Sea Snail Liparis montagui, a lifer for me and my 63rd species of British fish. Brilliant. It seemed quite docile and soon assumed this characteristic resting position. But the fishy fun didn't stop there, oh no. Moments later, in the same small pool I found a Butterfish Pholis gunnellus under a stone. Cool stuff.
I left the rockpool and headed to the water's edge, lifting rocks all the way. Beneath one large rock I found yet another Butterfish, this one being the largest and palest one I've ever encountered. Large because she was heavily gravid, note the mass of eggs at her side, I'm sure many more were about to follow
Fit to burst
 And still the fish came, my total count was one Montagu's Sea Snail, four Butterfish and two small Shore Rocklings Gaidropsarus mediterraneus, here's one of the latter. The three barbels on the head seperates it from all other British species of rockling apart from Three-bearded. The uniformly unmarked browny flanks confirm it as Shore Rockling, Three-bearded Rockling has much paler marbled/spotted flanks. 
One of two that were under the same rock - my 64th species of British fish.
The underside of rocks were fast becoming my fave habitat to explore! Despite much turning I failed to find any anemones. Loads of encrusting bryozoans though, none of which I could name because I wasn't about to start lugging large rocks up the hill to my microscope. Electra pilosa was found on wrack blades (I don't mind taking bits of seaweed back with me!) and I spotted this distinctively patterned snail on some kelp
Banded Chink Shell Lacuna vincta - really surprised I haven't recorded this species before
Space Invader
Dog Whelk Nucella lapillus eggs being actively laid
Next up I found a really weird-looking blobby thing attached to the underside of a rock. No, I hadn't dropped a rock on my toe - this was even weirder and blobbier than that. Essentially I had no clear idea of what I was looking at, that's how weird it was!
Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions?
 It fell off the rock to reveal its underside, which gave me an inkling as to what it actually was

It's a bloomin' mollusc!
Sherlock Holmes himself couldn't have figured it out any quicker. The foot was the big giveaway, hiding under the outer mantle. This was some sort of a sea slug, or so I figured. I'd never seen anything like it before and back indoors I was still none the wiser after a fair whack of internet and literature trawling. Bugger, I had to do something I hate doing - I asked for help on the PSL Facebook Group. Suggestions so far are Lamellaria perspicua (though I think it's about twice as large as that species is meant to be), Jorunna tomentosa (that's Dave Fenwick's suggestion, so I ought to listen really) and Doris pseudoargus (my own suggestion and the one I'm happiest with - despite my lack of experience with any of the species mentioned!) As if that wasn't bad enough, I turned a nearby rock and found this!
Fer Gawd's Sake, now there's gonna be even more of them - whatever they are!
I love seashore stuff, it's just so damned alien!!! I saw a paddleworm egg sac bobbing away in weed, it really is that time of year again isn't it. It was full moon a couple of nights ago, I suspect this may have triggered this spawning/mating behaviour. Or maybe the increasing daylight hours? Pretty sure the sea hasn't warmed up noticeably of late!

If I ever get a definitive answer on the identification of the blobby things I'll let you know. My money is on Doris, though what do I know?

Total for NG3963 up to 12th Feb is 318 species


  1. I'm loving my forced seaside bothering, though a lot of head0scratching. Found a chiton the other day but loathe to accept the ID I landed on. Will be thrown to the general public for comment shortly

  2. p.s. I have a few more rock pools, though not many. Can't believe you got that many fish out of one sweep you jammy ....