This event took place on the far eastern end of Shoreham Beach, based in the Nissan Hut of Shoreham Fort with access to the nearby sandy beach within the harbour mouth. The Nissan hut was used as a base for the microscope technology. A small aquarium tank and several containers were set up to house small marine creatures collected by the public. These creatures could then be observed in close up on a flat screen using a USB microscope cam connected to a laptop.
This was based on a set up used by Stephen Savage (event leader) with schools as part of the nature reserve education programme and through Steve’s other education work with schools. This time the marine life that was presented using the technology had been collected by members of the public attending the event. People wishing to take part first needed to attend a short briefing on what we wanted people to do and health and safety and advice on collecting the live animals. During the morning the public brought creatures up to the Nissan hut and were treated to some close up views of the animals they had found. People were then instructed to return the creatures to the rock pool where they found them – but we did keep a small selection to show later visitors to the event.
Creatures collected included beadlet sea anemones, shore crabs, mussels, barnacles, limpet, shrimp, prawns, goby fish, and a juvenile bass. People were truly amazed by the close up views. Barnacles opening and closing their shell, delicate markings on the shell of juvenile shore crabs, a mussel’s wandering foot exploring its surroundings, a cockle’s breathing tubes extended, transparent prawns showing their internal organs. There were many genuine calls of WOW! and Amazing! There were many chances to share fascinating facts about the marine life, such as the life cycle of the barnacles, how anemones feed (and occasionally fight each other) how crabs regenerate a lost limb, how dog whelks eat mussels, how mussels attach themselves to rocks, the difference between a shrimp and a prawn and much more.
While we invited people to ‘rock pool’ and bring their ‘catch’ up to observe through the microscope, we also invited people to just come and see what others had found – and we had quite a few people who came to find out what we had seen and ask questions.
This event was funded by the Awards for All Heritage Lottery helping us to celebrate Shoreham Beach’s 10 years Anniversary as a Local Nature Reserve. It was a great success and made an interesting addition to the traditional annual FoSB family rock pooling event that took place a couple of weeks earlier.