Exploring Cornish Rock Pools and Beaches
Exploring rock pools and other coastal sea life should be a rite of passage for all British children. The strange creatures that squelch up from between your toes as you walk across wet sand or the weird and ugly looking Tompot Blennys or the strange brown patterned Rock Gobys that inhabit the darkest recesses of the deepest rock pools. Catching these little critters used to amuse us as children for hours on end. We spent many happy sun drenched holidays on the Cornish coast exploring the local flora, fauna and sea life, many of these spent in the close knit villages of Looe and Polperro and in and around the interconnecting villages of Portscatho and Porthcurnick.
Looking back I’m sure the creatures that we hunted down didn’t like being hounded around their temporary homes for hours on end, only to be placed in an orange container and then swung about for hours on end until they were finally released back into the sea teatime results.
Perhaps I’m old fashioned or now just a million years behind the technology curve – but can anything really replace the inventiveness and stealth needed to hunt one of these slippery creatures down and successfully store it in a beach bucket!
Cornwall, especially East Cornwall, with its wonderful coastline has a myriad of different kinds of beaches to explore – all with different coastal creatures. Some of the best beaches for rock pooling that I ever visited included those around Looe, Polperro and further down the coast, Portscatho and Porthcurnick. Lets not also forget the hidden beaches around these villages that can only be accessed by boat. Some of the best included Peter Splosh (yes really! I haven’t yet discovered where Peter Splosh got its endearing name from) and White Sands.
Some of the creatures found in British rockpools of course are common to all beaches, limpets for example, those pernicious little creatures that no amount of pulling could ever persuade them to release their hold on their rocky home. I was probably about six when I finally realised that the only way to remove them from their rocky habitat was to find a large rock or pebble and bash then off. The resulting creature I discovered made rather good crab bait, when fishing off the end of a jetty. Eek, small children are mercenary creatures sometimes!
At about the same age I discovered the benefit of wearing jellies, those plastic shoes worn on the beach by children in the 70’s. They provided excellent protection against the ever present and sometimes well hidden sea anemones that when stood on provided a horrible sting. I can remember sitting with my foot in a bucket of malt vinegar on at least two occasions. Of course the hardest things to catch were always the shrimps. First you had to be lucky enough to find a rock pool that housed the little devils, and then when you set about catching them you discovered that they were fiendishly fast. Still if you caught enough they made a tasty teatime treat.