Archive for Marine Conservation

Looe Bioblitz – Wildlife Bonanza in Cornwall

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Rockpool Creatures Looe CornwallSo what is the Looe Bioblitz? And if you’re interested in wildlife, why should you come to Looe in South East Cornwall to take part on June 23 and 24?

What is a Bioblitz?

A bioblitz  is a survey of a natural space to try and identify and record as many species as possible, and to raise public awareness of biodiversity in the marine and coastal environment.  Anyone who lives in Looe or has visited on holiday can’t fail to appreciate how lucky we are in Looe to have an amazing variety of wildlife from grey seals to blackbacked gulls, from bats and badgers to dolphins and basking sharks, from fish aplenty to crabs and kingfishers – the list is endless. And that’s why Looe was selected this year by the Marine Biological Association as the focus for their fifth Bioblitz – the largest one they’ve held.

An amazing range of activities will be run to survey and gather the species and data, under the eye of national wildlife experts who are coming to Looe specially for the event this weekend. The 24 hour race running round the clock will involve local groups, holidaymakers, wildlife enthusiasts and volunteers from our local Looe Marine Conservation Group.

What type of wildlife events are taking place?

If you fancy any of these activities, turn up on Sunday at the new Millpool Centre in the Millpool Car Park in West Looe which is acting as the base camp for the event. From 10 am on Sunday, here you can get details of the programme of activities from a manned desk. Amazing interesting activities that you might not have ever done before such as seashore safaris, bug hunts, woodland, meadow and strandline walks, plankton netting, rock pooling, bat detecting, moth traps, mammal spotting, and snorkelling – with national and local wildlife experts on hand to answer questions. Most of the surveys will take place at Hannafore and East Looe Beaches, on Looe Island and in Kilminorth Woods. So the base camp in the Millpool is the nerve centre for data, where lab work, identification and data recording will continue through the night. You can take part in events or simply observe.  In the Millpool Centre, there will be talks; art based activities and microscopes/screens/ specimens for people to look at and learn about, all under the knowledgeable eye of experts – some coming from France and from the Natural History Museum as well as the MBA and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.  There will be monitors in the centre for viewing photos and identifying additional records from these pictures and a series of ‘mini missions’ for volunteers and members of the public to take part in.

Support for Looe’s Wildlife

At Polraen, we have a major interest in Looe’s marine wildlife as we sit on the steering committee  of our Looe Marine Conservation Group. We’ve found it a great way to engage with nature, meeting like minded people and its a great excuse to get out and enjoy the fantastic rural and coastal environment that we have the privilege to live in. Whether you live locally or are on holiday, you might like to support the efforts of our group by becoming a member for just £6 per annum. Take a look at the Looe Marine Conservation Group website from the comfort of your armchair or better still, become a member or even a volunteer if you live nearby.

At the time of ‘blogging’, we have rooms available  at Polraen if you’re needing overnight accommodation. 

Basking Shark in Looe Harbour

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Yesterday (Sunday 20 May) an 8-10ft basking shark spent an hour serenely swimming around Looe Harbour in South East Cornwall at around 4pm witnessed by onlookers from East and West Looe quaysides and along the Banjo Pier. Dave Haines took some brilliant pictures from outside the RNLI Lifeboat Station which yoiu can see on our Facebook page.

What amazes me is the way it gets written up in the paper:

BBC News: “A basking shark has been spotted in a town harbour in Cornwall in what is believed to be the first such sighting for about 20 years.  The shark, estimated to be between 8ft and 10ft (2.4m and 3m) long, spent an hour at Looe after being seen at about 16:00 BST on Sunday.  The creature was watched by dozens of people on the town’s quayside and Banjo Pier.  It then swam out of the River Looe, local lifeboat staff said.

The Sun: “A MONSTER shark swam into a British harbour for the first time in 20 years — and came within 8ft of onlookers. The 10ft basking shark glided into Looe harbour in Cornwall after mistakenly swimming up the mouth of the River Looe.

What a sight to behold and I missed it by a day as I’d spent all the afternoon before assisting the Cornwall Wildlife Trust with our Looe Crazy about Crabbing event! which will  be on the next blog when I’ve got the photos sorted. As a volunteer in our Local Marine Conservation Group, we help out with some great events to share knowledge and spread the word about the importance of marine conservation. Basking sharks are amazing creatures. It was over 20 years ago that one was sighted in Looe Harbour in this way. Just a pity that I was there a day early and the shark turned up a day late!

One natural, one man-made – both inspiring!

Great coverage by the BBC presenting the joint delights of the Cornish countryside and coastline in one great episode of Countryfile.  Marine Conservation efforts in and around Looe and Cornish Mining Heritage were both featured on  Sunday night (26 Feb). The media interest reflects a growing awareness of the need to protect and conserve our marine habitats and gives deserved recognition to the Cornish mining industry under its World Heritage Site status.  (Not sure how long these links to BBC iPlayer will remain live but here they are for a few days at least. )

Watch the clip of :  Ellie Explores a Wreck. As marine conservation volunteers in Looe, my daughter and I were particularly interested to see the coverage having attended a conference for marine conservation volunteers the day before, organised by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The programme exposes the plight of sea creatures trapped in a fishing net which has got caught around the sunken frigate, HMS Scilla in Whitsand Bay – a popular dive site.

Heading west from the  marine habitats of South East Cornwall, the Countryfile episode encompassed the Cornish mining industry – each in their turn contributing so much to the essence of what makes Cornwall’s landscape unique. Tin mining followed by clay  sculpting the shape of inland Cornwall while the coastline provides many of the magical memories and recreational activities that  visitors recall of their Cornish holiday.

And what lies beneath the waves? Incredible beauty and marine wildlife in abundance that we must protect.

Inspired by these two topics, I’ll shortly be giving each greater exposure on the Polraen website with pages of useful information for visitors so watch this space for interesting places to visit when planning your next holiday. As a taster:

Marine Conservation

Take a look at the exciting programme of mainly free events and activities developed for 2012 from rockshore rambles to seal trips and foraging walks. Details can be downloaded via the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website: the YourShore leaflet gives details of events  organised by the Looe Marine Conservation Group and by the 4 other Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas throughout Cornwall.

Cornish Mining Heritage

There’s so much more to know about the contribution Cornwall and Cornish miners has given to the world! South Africa without rugby? Football without the Mexican wave? From Cornish pasties to tracing your ancestors, take a  look at a new interactive website developed by the World Heritage Site organisation. It brings the story of Cornish mining to life and highlights some really interesting places to visit like the historic port of Charlestown, the clay pits at Wheal Martyn, Caradon Hill mines, and Morwellham Quay . Most are  free and most are all weather attractions – but don’t save them all for just a rainy day – they’re well worth slotting into your sight seeing plans.