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Rocky Hollow Show

  • Mon 14th Oct, 2019

If you go down to the beach today…

Beadlet Anenome © Dan LombardBeadlet Anenome © Dan Lombard

Two blobs of jelly, one red, and one brown, both with a line of electric blue at the base. A riot of colour in a very weird form. These are the spectacular beadlet anemones. Look out for these crazy creatures on the side of rocks in pools, their tentacles retract when the tide is out. Despite their flower-like name they are predatory animals with 192 tentacles designed to trap passing prey. A serious contender for an underwater horror movie!

Uncovered at low tide, the tangle forest of seaweed is laid bare for explorer on the tideline. From the large trailing wracks and kelp such as toothed wrack and sugar wrack to the tiny seaweeds such as Irish moss. A wealth of amazing diversity awaits the curious.

Thong Weed © Anthony HurdThong Weed © Anthony Hurd

Sugar wrack can live for up to four years and forms sweet-tasting crystals when dry. Look out for the small cream dots of winkle egg studs on this seaweed. Another strange weed to look for is thong weed which starts life as small button like plants before bursting into long strands up to a meter long.

The bryozoan hairy sea mat growing over the seaweed irish moss © Anthony HurdThe bryozoan hairy sea mat growing over the seaweed irish moss © Anthony Hurd

Look-out for a silvery sheen on seaweed, this could be sea mat; a Bryozoan which can turn the weed almost completely grey. These Bryozoa are also known as ‘moss animals’. Sea Mat is a community of tiny primitive animals which filter-feed. These amazing creatures can communicate with each other through chemical reactions. Over 6000 species of Bryozoa have been found in the sea and in freshwater environments. Scientists have become increasingly interested in a chemical called bryostatin which has properties used in the fight against cancer.

Photographing the macro seashore world © Richard BainesPhotographing the macro seashore world © Richard Baines

The small seaweed Irish Moss (Carragheen) can be found in a variety of colours from reddish purple to green. It contains a chemical used as a thickener in the food industry, especially popular as a replacement for gelatine in vegan cookery, a folk remedy for coughs and colds and even as an aphrodisiac.

Irish Moss © Anthony HurdIrish Moss © Anthony Hurd

In the Caribbean a saucy seaweed recipe involves mixing Irish moss with milk, rum and spices. There may be some truth in this tale as Irish Moss does contain manganese and vitamin E both known to contribute to fertility and sex drive. Watch this space for Yorkshire Coast Nature tours to the Caribbean soon…...!

The best way to explore and find out more about these amazing plants and animals is to join a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust beach safari. YWT run regular walks on the North and East Yorkshire Coast. To find out more Click Here

Richard Baines YCN