Treasures on the beach
As the tide goes out, the secrets of the sea are revealed in the pools left behind on the beach or on the strandline at Sandscale Haws. Stroll, crouch, peer and scoop on the beach to discover wonders in your private pocket of ocean life.
Whatever season it is at Sandscale there’s always a treasure or two to find on the beach. The beach is constantly changing with winds and storms and high tides washing wildlife in and washing it back out again.
From tiny pink tellin shells to long pod razor shells and if you’re lucky a pelican’s foot shell, most of the shells you can find on the beach are molluscs. These are soft bodied animals which use their shells for protection.
Other treasures which get washed up are mermaids purses. These are the empty egg cases of fish like ray, skate and cat sharks. They vary in appearance depending on their species but most look like a little black or clear brown pod and some have tendrils hanging off them.
There’s plenty of life on the beach too. Channels and pools that are left behind at low tide can be full of shrimps, young flounder fish and shore crabs in summer. For short periods in the summer you can see crabs without their shells (peeler crabs). The crabs have to crawl out of their shells and then try to stay hidden until they can grow a new shell. You’ll see piles of empty crab shells on the beach at different times of the year which when it’s the season for the crabs to lose their shells.
Cockles and clams live in sandy areas in the estuary and mussels cling to the rocky scars out in the water. Lug worms and ragworms live in muddier parts, burying themselves deep into the sand and leaving their tell-tale piles of casts heaped on the beach. At Sandscale there are honeycomb worms which build themselves tube-shaped homes out of the sand although these are really specialist and not always easy to find.
Larger animals to look out for along Sandscale’s coastline are grey and common seals which are a real treat to spot if you’re out at the beach. These seals live in the Duddon estuary and off Lowsy Point. They feed on the fish in the estuary and enjoy the shallower waters. Grey seals now breed nearby on South Walney and common seals have been known to give birth to pups on sand banks within the Duddon Estuary.
If you love beachcombing and looking in pools like we do and want to know more, then visit Sandscale’s Red Hut for our beach spotter sheets.