With the help of neighbouring Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is keen to use Shoresearch surveys to discover more about the marine wildlife that lives off our coast.
Shoresearch is a seashore recording and surveying project, in which volunteers identify and record what they find on the shore. It helps to identify the wildlife that exists along the coastline - an excellent way to understand and help protect our local shores.
Rachel Kirby, Head of the Wash Study Centre at Gibraltar Point said: "Shoresearch is perfect for anyone who likes beachcombing and exploring the strandline to see what has washed up. Often we’ll see evidence of what lives out to see rather than the animals themselves such as empty shells, crabs claws and mermaid’s purses (the egg cases of skates and rays)."
Almost thirty different species were found and identified during the training event including:
- the small, spherical sea gooseberry which has an almost transparent, shimmering appearance
- evidence of three species of crab: edible, shore and spider (from claws and shells on the strandline)
- three species of hydroid and hornwrack (a bryozoan) all of which look superficially like plants or seaweed but are actually colonies of tiny animals
- slipper limpets which are native to the eastern coast of North America and were introduced to Essex in 1887-90, with imported oysters. Slipper limpets compete with and can displace other sea animals such as mussels and oysters. They are a recent arrival to Lincolnshire and have not yet spread as far as Yorkshire. Shoresearch surveys will help monitor their distribution.
"This simple survey illustrates the diversity of wildlife that lives off the coast, even though most of the time it is out of sight" continued Rachel. "We now plan to develop Shoresearch surveys for use by school groups visiting Gibraltar Point and at public events."
For anyone interested in trying to identify seashore life, a range of identification guides are available from the gift shop in the Gibraltar Point visitor centre.
Photo: Slipper limpets live stacked on top of one another (photo by Kirsten Smith)