Rock pooling at St Helen's Duver

Quiet Bembridge harbour water with St Helens Duver on the far side

The limestone ledges off St Helens Duver on the Isle of Wight are one of the best places in southern England to go rock pooling.

There's some amazing secret life to be discovered when the tide's gone out. The rock pools are teeming with life, including sea anemones, crabs and brittle stars.

What might you find in the St Helens' rock pools?

The limestone crevices provide shelter for whelks, limpets and periwinkles. Barnacles often encrust the rock. Sea anemones live in the pools and damper surfaces.
 
Many different types of worm live in the sands, and sea squirts cling to the rocks. Small fish such as blennies and gobies hide among the seaweed. Even seahorses have been seen here.
 
Different types of crab hide among the rocks. Turn over a few and see what’s hiding there. You may find a squat lobster or some shrimps. But please always put the rocks back in place afterwards to avoid disturbing living things.
 
Try turning over seaweed too, and see what’s hiding or waiting till the tide comes in again.

Flat top shells

It’s always worth investigating the life on the shore here – for it does change from season to season and year to year.
 
For example, flat top shells have only been found at St Helens Duver in recent times. They're fairly common along the west of the UK. But you don’t find them on North Sea coasts or along the eastern English Channel, away from the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. 
 
This makes them an indicator of climate change, and the Isle of Wight is on their frontier.

Safe and responsible rock pooling

  • Please wear footwear suitable for scrambling over slippery rocks – old trainers or wellies are ideal
  • Some people like to use nets with long handles, but these aren’t really recommended because they can harm delicate animals
  • Please put rocks and seaweed back carefully where you found them, and the same way up as before
  • Try to avoid handling any creatures more than you need to for identification, and always return them back to their rock pool homes afterwards
  • Avoid getting caught out by a rising tide
  • Enjoy yourself and see what you can find