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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Chill-out weekend; rockpooling!

I've been really ill for way too long now, but I'm coming out of it! (Fingers crossed) I'm still taking it easy though. Yesterday was really nice out, if a little hazy, so we went for a walk along the beach. The tide was still quite far out so a lot of the rocky reefs were exposed, full of little rock-pools. It was slippery underfoot, with high risk of dipping a foot into the freezing sea (or falling and hitting jagged rocks I guess) but it was worth it; I spotted a spot of pinkish-cream among the black rocks and dark seaweed. I made my way over to it, knelt down to get a closer look and saw that it was a limpet detached from its rock, with the fleshy part facing upwards. It was dead, but the whole Lion King-style circle of life thing was happening right before me; two black spiralled shells (either sea-snails or some sort of whelk, or so I thought) were moving in to feed on the limpet's body. I thought this was cool, so stayed to watch. But to my surprise, little legs emerged from one of the shells, followed by clawed arms and two tiny eye-stalks! It was a little Hermit Crab!

The dead limpet (blue) and the hermit crab (purple). I couldn't tell if the shell on the dead limpet was another crab or just a sea snail. There were other hermit crabs nearby though so I'm thinking a crab.

I was really excited by this development, so I called the others over to have a look (and lend me a phone to take pictures!). The water was freezing but I scooped him up to have a closer look for a second or two. As I expected, he went full-defensive mode and retreated inside his borrowed shell, waving his cute little claws menacingly at me through the opening. I didn't want to disturb him too much though so I popped him back down right where I got him from. He spent thirty seconds or so peering up at me suspiciously, but when he was satisfied that I wouldn't pick him up again he went straight back to chomping limpet.

"Put me down, mammal! I've got a busy day ahead!"

The tide was slowly making its way towards us so we went back up onto the promenade, but it was great to see nature happening right on my doorstep! I love how pretty much anywhere you look in the world, you will find little ecosystems full of fascinating organisms!

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