Lucky Rockpooling trip with small and large surprises

Was out again south of coral beach (Rinn) at my favorite huge rockpools. The plan was to use my selfmade plasticbottle traps baited with mackerel to try and catch some wrasse or two spotted gobies as I cant see a way of netting them. Too fast for me πŸ˜‰ Well that was the plan…

While climbing over the rocks to get to the big pools I glimpsed a blueish thing that would have seemed unnatural, maybe a plastic piece of flotsam. It was only for AnBollenessor’s recent post that I knew this could be a By-the-wind-sailor and I went to investigate. Surely it was one, very small but the color is just amazing! I have to read up more about it as its very intriguing if you think this is actually a hydroid colony rather than a single animal.

After this great start I placed my traps baited with mackerel in three different pools where I saw two-spotted gobies and small wrasse the last time. However today I didnt see any fish in any of the pools, seemed as if it was siesta time or something. Nobody around.

Meanwhile I was rockpooling around the smaller pools where I found some more firsts for me. In a kind of murky place under a big rock was this big Spiny starfish, about 15cm diameter. Beautiful but at that size a too destructive eating machine so it stayed right there. Another great find was this also huge sea cucumber (Cotton Spinner) around 20cm in length. I was thinking for a good while should I take it or not but its also just too big for my aquarium. It seemed to have been muching on some seaweed. The next discovery was a lot smaller but very exciting none the less and something high on my list: a red nudibranch (Aeolidiella sanguinea), only about 30mm but what a beautiful creature. Of course I had to bring it home. I also brought some small anemones in case it gets hungry as thats what they feed on. Dont know how voracious it will be but at that size it cant be too bad.

After a deep breath after all this excitement I collected a few more hermits and prawns and packed up the absolutely untouched traps. Couldnt be disappointed at this stage. Was worth a try and will try again with different bait maybe. Back in the car I went up the Coral Beach to collect some water as its always very clear here and I was in for another surprise. Looking from the carpark I could see something very large 2m long, weird color pattern but looked too odd to be natural but couldnt make out what it could be so I went closer to investigate. Then my jaw dropped… It was a huge colony of goose barnacles (again I only know the name from AnBollenessor’s post). Probably thousands, washed up on shore attached to a big piece of wood. I havent seen anything as weird looking. Truly fascinating. They where still alive and moving their tentacles. I called the Aquarium in Galway to see if they where interested in taking it. Β Not sure if they would thrive in an aquarium? It would look deadly! They got me in contact with Anne Marie Power from NUIG that is a specialist in goose barnacles and researching their unique glue that tacks to anything underwater (See their Facebook pageΒ and UniPage). She was amazed to hear about it and we met the next day at the beach. They cut up some big pieces of the wooden structure for their research and I also took some small pieces that I am going to trial in my aquarium. They have successfully kept goose barnacles in the past for over a year in an aquarium so hopes are high. It was a fantastic experience from finding and investigating it to talking to a specialist and now finally having a tiny piece of it in my aquarium! Thanks Anne Marie for all the interesting info I got from you! Check out some of the pictures of the trip here…

Next post will be a tank update so click FOLLOW in the bottom right corner and you will get the news πŸ˜‰

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8 thoughts on “Lucky Rockpooling trip with small and large surprises

  1. Hey Marius,

    some great finds, especially the nudibranch! This is a very nice page for IDs: http://www.conchsoc.org/groupbrowser/Marine%20slug, although I do not see one that resembles yours. If you are on facebook there are some great groups to join: Seasearch Identifications, Porcupine Marine Natural History Society… there are more, I will write a post about it soon.

    The trapping still sounds like a good plan, it is indeed very difficult to use nets. I have recently bought a cast net but was not very successful (I will post about that too). Persevere!

    cheers, Michiel

    • Hi Michiel,

      I think I was really lucky with the nudibranch! Looks deadly. I think mine is the Aeolidiella sanguinea from looking at your link and this. That link of yours just blew my head even more! I dint know we have such a variety of crazy exoctic looking sea snails here on our shores! πŸ™‚ Only knew about three, just breathtaking! Thanks for all the info.

      I think the trapping needs more time until they find/smell the bait as there is almost no water movement in a rockpool. I only gave it 2 hours. Best would probably be to leave it there over Low/High/Low cycle but the traps I made would probably be smashed to bits by that time.
      You must be a fairly skilled netter taking up the cast nets πŸ˜‰ Perseverance surely needed!

      Good luck
      Marius

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad to hear that it should be easy, had no success with that technique yet (except for prawns) but will have to work on my netting skills so and keep trying, a bit of luck might be no harm too πŸ˜‰

  2. Pingback: First Video, Hybrid Snails, a Clinger and lots more | Irish Rockpool Aquarium Adventures

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