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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Bude Marine Conservation Group

Abby with 60 attendees - adults and children
I had known for a few months that Abby Crosby our local wildlife celebrity of Radio and TV fame was to hold a Strandline Discovery event at Sandymouth. When she asked me to join her afterwards to talk about community engagement, I jumped at the chance of a free cuppa.

She had an extremely good crowd of about 30 adults and 30 children who she sent of with buckets to see what they could find and identify.

After an hour's scrabbling along the strandline and in rock pools she called everyone together. She held her audience spellbound while she held a show and tell with all their finds.

Egg Wrack - 4 years old
She coaxed the children in to correctly identifying a mass of “snail” eggs which she explained were actually Whelk eggs and that sailors used the mass as a makeshift washing sponge. She explained the gory story of how the first hatchings gorged themselves on their siblings to cries of mock horror – survival of the fittest.

Next was a shore crab – prompted and eventually identified as a female, followed by a Limpet with stories of nightly foraging after which it followed its chemical slime trail to the exact spot it left earlier in the night. Then Egg Wrack which, by counting the “eggs” proved to be four years old. Finally the difference between shrimps and prawns – shrimps are almost totally transparent whereas prawns have stripy pyjama bottoms (legs).

With each item she took the opportunity to stress conservation and care of living creatures after which each was replaced in their original (or as near as possible) location.

The tide was too high for Honeycomb Worm, but one was found in a gully quite near to Dog Whelk eggs. The adults hatch into the predators of the seemingly impregnable limpet.

Dog Whelk eggs
A single Honeycomb worm
Over our tea, Abby introduced her colleague Natalie who had just started a contract to expand the current Voluntary Marine Conservation areas (currently Fowey, Helford, Looe, Polzeth and St Agnes) to include Bude.

Plans are in hand to engage with local groups of all kinds and individuals to establish a similar group in our area.

We await developments with eager anticipation.

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