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Looking for minibeasts with the kids

Like many of my friends, rock pooling is something I never managed to grow out of. It's probably my cheapest hobby, and most importantly one I am able to easily share with my enthusiastic children who have no problem enabling an expedition down to the shore.





Typically each summer we setup a saltwater aquarium in a shady corner of the house, cycling our finds and topping up with seawater from West Bay. Last year we were lucky enough to hatch out some cuttlefish eggs that washed up loose on the shore not too dried out. I did try to sustain them on mail order mysid shrimp for a time, but I was unable to keep it going indefinitely, and when we started to lose hatchlings to the invasive claws of common prawns, we set the remainder free down at the harbour. 

Formative rockpool finds included my first Worm pipefish (Nerophis lumbriciformis) in Cawsand bay when I was about eight, my first Long-spined sea scorpion (Taurulus bubalis), Giant goby (Gobius cobitis) and Common eel (Anguilla anguilla) all from the Portwrinkle rockpools when I was about eleven or twelve. You're never too old to find something new though, and I was delighted to find our first St Piran's crab whilst rock pooling with my son at Seaton (SE Cornwall) last summer. 

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