Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 8, 2013

Rockpooling…… near Southend-on-Sea!!

Thoughts of the flat spread of the Thames Estuary mudflats do not exactly conjure images of a craggy coastline, scattered with rockpools and their secret little worlds.  This is not, I have to say, without good reason.  Yet, as I have so often found myself alluding to on this blog, there are always surprise to be had, even beside the yawning gape of the Thames and the chance finding of at least a de facto rockpool.

There is an old landing stage beside an area of former MOD land and it was in a shallow depression at the foot of one of the supports that I made my small discovery.  My inquisitive side drew me towards it as I inspected the strand line for shells.  There is always the possibility of a prawn or two, or perhaps small fish stranded by the receding tide.  What I found was a wonderful microcosm of the high-tide seashore.  The prawns were there, ghosting about the tiny pool, with glassy, finely banded bodies that one could so easily mistake for a trick of the eye or a shimmer of the water.  Watching the little crustaceans I became aware of another, rather ethereal presence.  A tiny jellyfish, hardly more than a centimetre across pulsed in the water.  I then noticed others, perhaps a dozen or more.

Sargartia troglodytes - a burrowing sea anemone.  Copyright 2013 Ross Gardner

Sargartia troglodytes – a burrowing sea anemone. Copyright 2013 Ross Gardner

A different movement beneath the micro-swarm of jellyfish, darting across the pool, was a sand goby.  Coming to rest over a substrate of small stones and shell fragments its cryptically mottled colouration was rather less effective that against the muddy pools in which I have seen them before.  Periwinkles edged their way over the stone, the occasional twitching of the shells proof of the living creatures within.  Small Shore Crabs crept furtively among the mussel shells and larger stones and there even sea anemones – the burrowing Sargartia troglodytes, half-concealed in the sand and a bloom of banded tentacles.

So much life in a pool less than a metre across and a few centimetres deep.

An unassuming pool.  Ross Gardner 2013

An unassuming pool. Ross Gardner 2013

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Responses

  1. Still jealous of this find!

    • I couldn’t say how permanent to pool is and I think I got lucky with finding so much stuff in it. Check out Gunners Park, Shoebury.


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