A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Algal diversity at Kennack Sands

While walking toward the coast path from Lizard recently I got talking to a fascinating botanist who told me that the slope he was looking at was home to twelve different species of clover, if I remember correctly. He also pointed out some other plants, many of them rare and most of them with spectacular names. It made me think about our inshore algal diversity so when I found myself at Kennack Sands last weekend I decided to do a one minute search to see what I could find.

I recorded ten species of seaweed adjacent to and in a small rockpool on the midshore. There were plenty more but sixty seconds flies! The only green seaweeds I saw were Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) and Ulva intestinalis, aptly known as gut weed which becomes apparent when you see it floating in a rockpool. Brown seaweeds dominated the area in terms of mass which is typical of the midshore.

Awesome wildlife experiences on our doorstep!

New born seal pup on the Lizard Photo by Alec FarrLate autumn on the Lizard coastline can be a wild time and, for grey seal mums, major life events are unfolding beneath steep cliffs edged by crashing waves. Hardy volunteers from Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) brave the elements daily to protect our seals at this important time. Such intense research studies reveal fascinating insights into the lives of these precious marine mammals – Cornwall’s speciality marine species. The stories that unfold can be a magical experience for all – never to be forgotten.

Celtic Cross returns to the Lizard a celebrity!

It is easy to assume that seals seen at the same spot all year form a static colony. Nothing could be further from the truth at Lizard Point. CSGRT volunteers (Alec, Enid and Terry) survey here daily. Few grey seals (if any) are more intensively studied anywhere and their results reveal that the majority of seals identified here are just passing through. We always hope that our amazing volunteers elsewhere will photograph them too!
Whilst out surveying last September, Kate Hockley and I enjoyed watching a familiar looking female and her pup on the north Cornish coast. It wasn’t until we returned to the office that we discovered her identity!


LIZ33 at West Cornwall (red bordered photos for comparison are from the Lizard south catalogue)

 Excitingly, it was LIZ33 ‘Celtic Cross’. First identified in May 2014 at Lizard Point, we have learned that this young adult female puts in an appearance here a few days a month for six months of the year, but disappears in August. In 2014 her presence at a west Lizard site suggested she was heading towards Lands End, but it wasn’t until 2017 that she was photographed on the north Cornish coast by Owen Exeter and Chris Kerry – perhaps her first foray there? Her sightings at Lizard Point were certainly different after this, being far less frequent than in previous years. Perhaps she was having to spend more time offshore feeding ready to have her first pup? To everyone’s considerable relief, Celtic Cross has just been welcomed back to Lizard Point, even more of a celebrity than when she left!

Sitings graph

LIZ33 calendar of identification by CSGR


Published: Feb 2018

Author: Sue Sayer (Chair Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust)


The submergence circa 10,000 years ago of the land the Helford River to form the Estuary or Ria if you were using the correct technical term, has created the most amazing habitat for marine fauna. These rocky reefs and the communities of marine life that have established over thousands of years are named as particular features for protection in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) that covers the Fal and Helford Estuaries. Intertidal rocky shore communities are one of these features, providing fabulous rock pooling fun for adults and children alike, the lower the tide the more likely you are to find the more unusual looking species like this Scorpion fish.

Scorpion fish Scorpion Fish-Photo Anthony Sutton

If you snorkel or dive then the subtidal rocks and boulder habitat or the Kelp forests are fascinating to explore, and the variety of species, colour and spectacle rivals anywhere in the world.

How to best help our precious and amazing grey seal pup

Grey seal pups are an amazing wildlife spectacle around the Lizard peninsular at this time of year...as little and then big barrels of white fluffy fur with huge appealing eyes.

But they need our help. They are only fed milk by their mothers for three critical weeks that determine their survival prospects.

Life between the tides

In celebration of World Oceans Day (8th June), marine ecologist Caz Waddell delves into the exciting world of rocky shores and uncovers the extraordinary lives of rockpool creatures.

Kennack Sands. - Photo: Simon Lewis-www.westcountryviews.co.uk.jpgKennack Sands. Photo Simon Lewis www.westcountryviews.co.uk

Spend some time rockpooling on any shore around the Lizard and you will almost immediately discover a wealth of fascinating plants and animals living between the tides. Barnacles, periwinkles, sponges, prawns, anemones and crabs can all be found in abundance, and the lives of these (and many other) marine creatures are truly extraordinary!
Common starfish eating mussels. Photo: John Archer-Thomson

Common starfish eating mussels. Photo John Archer-Thomson

Life on the rocks at Poldhu Cove

Limpets at Poldhu CoveLast weekend I headed to Poldhu Cove to enjoy some sunshine and watch the surf. Having never been there the first thing I did upon arrival was head to the rocks to see what I could find, although being heavily pregnant with a toddler in tow precluded a proper nooks and crannies search of all the terrain the rocky shore had to offer. Many people might have looked at the rocky shore at Poldhu that day and concluded that there wasn't much there. Yet much like festive traditions, it was the presence of the familiar that I found comforting. Limpets, barnacles and beadlet anemones were everywhere; consequently these are often overlooked yet they all have fascinating roles to play on the rocky shore.
The humble common limpet Patella vulgata is an 'ecosystem engineer' of epic proportion. Their immobility at low tide belies the journeys they undertake when submerged by the tide when they crawl around grazing on microscopic algae on the rocks before returning to their home 'scar' before the tide goes out. Without limpets, our rocky shores would look quite different with some areas instead covered in thick carpets of algae.

Lucky Flipper

1 Lucky Flipper by Sue Sayer CSGRTLast week Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust’s (CSGRT’s) Sue and Kate went out on one of their twice weekly surveys of the West Cornwall seal complex. Usually at this time of year, seals are hauled on the offshore island, but the rough seas and cooler temperatures have obviously confused the seals, leaving Sue and Kate surprised to find a good number hauled on the mainland site instead. As Kate began counting, aging and sexing the seals, Sue was taking photos to enable the individual identification of each seal. Suddenly they spotted an extra seal lying on its own at the back of the beach. Although nearly invisible, as Sue zoomed the camera in, she was saddened to discover that the young male seal (one of last year’s pups) was actually entangled in a long piece of monofilament net. This was cutting in deeply around its neck and there was no doubt that the seal would not survive without being rescued. Whilst rescues are not always possible given weather, sea and tide conditions, combined with how close the seal is to the sea and the number of other animals present, Kate and Sue were hopeful that a rescue might just be possible. 2 Abseiling down cliff by Kate Hockley CSGRTThey rang British Divers Marine Life Rescue’s hotline number (01825 765546) and their Welfare Development and Field Support Officer Dan Jarvis was soon on the scene and agreed that a rescue might be possible. A rope safety team of Chris Howell and Phil Knight were mobilised, while Tamara Cooper, Animal Care Curator at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, arrived to assist as well. As a crowd gathered to watch, the rescue team made their way down the steep cliff.