Velvet Swimming Crabs
Velvet Swimming Crabs are a distinctive looking crab and easy to spot when out rockpooling or snorkelling. They are so named as their shells or carapaces are covered in lots of tiny, fine hairs with the feel of velvet. They also have flattened back legs which they use as paddles so are one of the few species of crab that can actually swim!
They have dark blue stripes along their legs, and bright red eyes, which are a warning that this is a crab not to be messed with. They are quite feisty and aggressive and wouldn’t hesitate to give you a nip. So, if you do come across one of these crabs they are best left alone!
Sightings of jellyfish tend to be much more frequent at this time of year when the sea is warmer and there are lots of nutrients around. Jellyfish are planktonic animals that drift around the oceans with the currents. Their bodies are around 95% water and they don’t have a brain, blood, or bones. Most only live for less than a year although one species is believed to be immortal!
The more common species that we are likely to see along the Dorset coastline at this time of year are the Compass Jellyfish and Blue Jellyfish. Compass Jellyfish can grow to around 30cm in diameter, have 16 brown v-shaped markings and 24 long, thin, stinging tentacles. Blue Jellyfish are slightly smaller, have a blue ‘umbrella’ shaped bell and a mass of hair-like tentacles.
All species of jellyfish are able to sting but how it affects us as humans varies to be on the safe side, it is advisable not to touch any type of jellyfish either in or out of the water.
During the summer months there are lots of juvenile fish taking advantage of the plentiful food that’s around as the sea temperature increases. In the rockpools, fish such as Blennies and Gobies are a common sight, but keep an eye out for other species that you might not be expecting to see. Juvenile fish, such as Grey Mullet and Bass that usually spend a lot of time hiding amongst the seaweed in the shallows can sometimes get temporarily trapped in rockpools as the tide goes out. They tend to shoal together for protection and will dart for cover if threatened, causing ripples on the surface of the water a good indication of their presence.
Velvet swimming crab © Julie Hatcher
Blue jellyfish © Julie Hatcher
Grey mullet © Paul Naylor