Wednesday 4 February 2015

Rodin, The Scallop and The Crab

Rodinesque Point

Do you realize it is over a year since we’ve been rock pooling together? Last January we went down to Ferma Harbour and had a lovely haul of Hermit Crabs, Spiny Starfish and Rock Pool Prawns amongst other things so let us go down to the sea and see what we can see, so to speak. I thought we’d try a couple of hundred yards along the coast today at a place I’ve come to know as Rodinesque Point. The reason for this appellation is a curious rock formation on the cliffs there which reminds me of Rodin’s “The Thinker” – before he got his mallet and chisel to it of course.

Horned Poppy

It also gives us a chance to have a first crack at our February phenology observations and look for items that we haven’t seen in February for the past four years.  These include twenty two flower species, seven insects, five birds and three marine specimens. One of the flowers being the beautiful Horned Poppy, (Glaucium corniculatum) which I haven’t seen since 2007. However, that was at the end of the month so I expect we’ll be a little early.

Fireworm and Chiton

Careful as you descend the cliff path, it’s one of those that is generally only suitable for goats of a non-nervous disposition. 
Good, we've all made it safely down so I suggest that we spread out and get fishing and do let me know if you find either a chiton or a fireworm – they’re on the February to find list.

Bristly or hairy crab

What have you got there? What an adorable little crab. What is he? As you can see, his legs and carapace are covered in tiny bristly, hairs and for that reason he is known as either the Bristly Crab or the Hairy Crab. The claws are brown and the right one is slightly larger than the left. They are generally carrion feeders and prefer shallow waters although they can be found at depths of up to eighty metres I believe.


Fossilised Scallop
Well, I think that trumps my find. I haven’t had much success I’m afraid, just a scattering of Top Shells and a small fish of unknown provenance that disappeared as soon as my shadow loomed into view. I did, however come across this.. it’s a fossilised Scallop. Scallops are bivalve molluscs, the same as mussels and clams and they’ve been with us since the middle of the Triassic period over 200 million years ago. Crete wasn’t about then of course as all the land masses were still joined together in one supercontinent called Pangea (from the Greek meaning ‘all land’). I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at how old this fellow is but I did find some fossilised cockles nearby a few years back which I donated to  the Palaeontology Museum of Rethymno and they were from between two and a half and five million years old, a time when Crete was still trying to decide what shape it was going to be.

Yellow Asphodels
Marvelous eating, scallops. Make a wonderful lunch. Funny how our little expeditions always seem to work up an appetite. Let’s wander back to base and I’ll update you on the sparrows and snails. I think Alice may have a boyfriend, just as well as they usually start nest building at the end of this month. On the snail front Vivian has gone walkabout and we’ve got more babies but more of that next week. Oh look, Yellow Asphodels. That’s one flower ticked off the phenology list. Only another twenty one to find.

Until next week – happy hunting.

Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)

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