(Above) Cushion starfish at Kimmeridge by Julie Hatcher
Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) staff and volunteers are delighted to have discovered a species of starfish on the seashore at Kimmeridge that has never been recorded there before.
The small cushion starfish (Asterina phylactica) was found by a group of volunteers in rockpools during a seashore exploration on one of the lowest tides of the year in the first week of April.
Cushion starfish never recorded this far west in the UK
Marine Awareness Officer, Julie Hatcher, said: “This delicate cushion star 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.”
More species expected as climate change affects distribution
The discovery was made during a thorough exploration of the shore by volunteers taking part in a PANACHE project activity. Last year a furrowed crab carrying eggs was discovered at Kimmeridge for the first time, and more new species are expected to move in as climate change affects their distribution.
The discovery of this species is an example of the amazing discoveries which can be found by getting local people out onto the seashore, and this sighting along with other information collected by volunteers will help identify important marine life areas which need protection.
An exciting time for marine conservation
Julie added: “PANACHE is about discovering what lives on the seashore and keeping an eye on it, letting us know about the changes and flagging up any problems the wildlife might be facing. People along both sides of The Channel are taking part and sharing their experiences. It’s an exciting time in marine conservation and this is a way anyone can be actively involved.”
Join us for your chance to discover marine wildlife!
For more information about taking part in a Rockpool ramble this Easter and seeing what marine life you can find, join us on Wednesday 16th April from 2pm 3.30pm. Meet at the WW2 Pillbox at Kimmeridge Bay (map ref SY907792). £1.50 for kids, £3 for adults. For more information about other marine events, click here or phone 01929 481044.
Notes to Editor
A cushion star is a small type of starfish with short broad-based arms. Like all starfish it uses many tiny feet on its underside to glide across the seabed.
The PANACHE project is a European Union Interreg IVa funded project, aiming to raise awareness about, and engage local people in, monitoring sealife in Marine Protected Areas (MPA) along both sides of the Channel coast, including Dorset. For more information click here.
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.