The type of recreation that will you throw back to your childhood yesteryears, rock-pooling is something all generations can enjoy. Fortunately, all but surrounded by the sea, Cornwall boasts huge stretches of coastline with sandy beaches and rocky coves that provide the perfect playground for indulging in this magical pastime. But what can you see in Cornwall’s rockpools?
Head to the beach or join an organised event and start your rock-pooling adventures. From jelly-like anemones to huge starfish to baby sharks, you never know what you might find.
Just remember, many of these little creatures are delicate, so it’s always best to look and not touch.
Crabs are one of the most easily recognisable critters to take up residence in rock pools, but which species can you find in Cornwall? Well, a lot! Most crabs have ten legs, but if you find one with only eight, it may well be a porcelain crab. The velvet swimming crab is a scrappy little crab with flattened back legs and red eyes. The hairy crab has one claw bigger than the other and, you guessed it, has lots of bristly hair all over it, while the Xantho’s crab looks like its wearing armour with muscle-like ripples on its shell and five pointed bumps along its sides. Take a look here for more crabs!
If you are lucky, you may be able to spot fish darting about in your rock pool, with some species of fish, like the Tompot blenny, having evolved to live specifically in the lower tidal zones. Look out for small silvery eels that dart amongst the weeds; the common eel and the sand eel are both frequent visitors, feeding on small crustaceans. You may also see a pipefish, which looks a little like a seahorse but has a long thin body and no tail fin and even “mermaids purses”, which are tough seaweed-like pouches that contain baby sharks and rays! As well as the different types of blenny, you also have a good chance of seeing a rock goby. The common goby for example has two dorsal fins (the first with a yellow blush on top) and loves hiding under stones.
Rock pools are the ideal grounds for molluscs and anemones, and pretty much every rock pool in Cornwall will be home to an array of these intriguing beings. Some of the toughest creatures on the planet, some of the Cornish molluscs you will find include limpets, periwinkles, mussels and even some sea slugs. As for anemones, you will be surprised how many you already recognise! The cutely named strawberry anemone has a red body covered in lime-green, seed-like spots and sports a crown of little red tentacles on top which it can retract. The snakelocks anemone is really striking with green and pink tentacles and, intriguingly, glows a bright neon green in UV light. One of the most common, the beadlet anemone resembles a red or green blob of jelly and is often found by the shore with its tentacled head swaying in the water, while the jewel anemone lives up to its name in a range of greens, pinks, purples, yellows and browns.
If you can’t wait to head out to reignite a favourite pastime or share the wonders of the natural world with your little one, then we would definitely recommend Treyarnon Bay. Just a few miles from our luxury cottages in Padstow, this beach is peppered with rocky outcrops that at low tide reveal some amazing rock pools.