New starfish record
A species of starfish was discovered on the seashore at Kimmeridge that had never been recorded there before. The small cushion star, Asterina phylactica, is normally found along the west coast of Britain or further south in Portugal and the Mediterranean. It has never been recorded this far east in the UK but may become more common here as a result of climate change.
This species is smaller than the more common cushion star, Asterina gibbosa, and has a darker, sometimes reddish, star-shaped marking in the centre. Look for it in pink coralline rockpools.
Read more about this exciting discovery
Stalked jellyfish (Stauromedusae)
Kimmeridge Bay is known to be a hotspot for stalked jellyfish, tiny relatives of the more common drifting jellyfish. Measuring less than 4cm high these delicate creatures gather in the shallow waters decorating the seaweeds in abundance during March and April before all but disappearing in the summer months.
This April three different species were recorded:
- The kaleidoscope stalked jellyfish, Haliclystus sp.
- The Maltese cross stalked jellyfish, Lucernariopsis cruxmelitensis
- The vase-shaped stalked jellyfish, Craterolophus convolvulus.
Although relatively little is known about the life-cycle or habits of these animals you can find out more and see some fabulous photos at www.stauromedusae.co.uk
While this winter’s impact on the coast and countryside has been all too visible with toppled trees, flooded valleys and major cliff falls, we wondered what the impact on the seabed must have been. As the water has started to clear up divers have been able to get underwater for the first time and record the changes the storms have wreaked.
At Kimmeridge the dense, colourful seaweed garden interspersed with sandy patches has all but disappeared, replaced by largely bare bedrock covered in barren rocks and boulders. The tough stalks (stipes) of some of the bushier seaweeds are all that is left of them.
Where pockets of seaweed have survived it is dominated by the pink encrusting kind (looking like pink paint)and a very tough species called Red sea pine, Halopithys incurvus. It will be interesting to see how quickly the seabed is recolonized.
View the seabed before and after the storms in this video below.
Asterina phylactica © Julie Hatcher
Haliclystus auricula © Chris Roberts
© Julie Hatcher
Kimmeridge Bay seaweeds © Chris Roberts