Above: Common blenny © Chris Roberts
Below: Common prawn © Julie Hatcher, Grey mullet © Paul Naylor
August is the best time for rockpooling! The rockpools are full of young blennies, crabs and prawns as well as shoals of small mullet and other fish. If you sit quietly by a rockpool the inhabitants will soon come out of hiding and carry on their busy lives in full sight. Curious blennies will come out to peer at you from beside a rock, quarrelsome crabs will battle it out between themselves and busy prawns will even give you a manicure.
This little fish is the nosy neighbour of the rockpool! Blennies are insatiably curious and like to know what’s going on in their neighbourhood. Dabbling your fingers at the water’s surface may entice a nosy blenny out of hiding to come and investigate.
Are you brave enough to take the prawn challenge? Sit quietly beside a rockpool and put your hand in, keeping very still. Often prawns will climb aboard and give you a manicure, picking the dirt from your finger nails and removing dead skin from your fingers. But beware, the bigger prawns can give you a nip!
Watch where you’re walking! During the summer a multitude of tiny crabs no bigger than a seaweed fly can be seen marching across the beach at low tide. Out in the open during the heat of the day they would quickly dry out but they scurry from damp seaweed patch to shady rock following the tide down the shore. Sometimes there are so many that it is hard to avoid them with our giant feet!
Ripples and shadows. On a calm day when the sea’s surface is mirror-smooth only the ripples give away the presence of shoals of small fish such as mullet as they swim away from your approach. Look for their shadows on the seabed just ahead of the ripples, as they are easier to spot than the fish themselves.