National Trust Purbeck Wildlife

Stranded

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seaweed1 220415 cropToday, the Studland strandline was a brilliant place to discover marine life for a group of primary school children on a visit from London. Searching amongst the seaweed, a great shell collection was rapidly assembled from tiny cowries to chunky common whelks. The reflected colours of purple and silver from the saddle oysters and pandora shells were especially popular though the spider crab claws and the remains of a barrel jellyfish brought a more cautious response.
The recent build-up of seaweed on the beach, accompanied by spider crab shells, cuttlefish bones and whelk eggs, may be seen as a nuisance by visitors but, for wildlife it’s a valuable resource. A range of spiders, flies and predatory beetles move in and sandhoppers, small shrimp-like crustaceans, are super-abundant, providing food for shorebirds such as sanderling and ringed plover.
The seaweed also plays an important part in the development of dunes as it provides nutrients and acts as a sand trap, allowing pioneers plants such as sea rocket and saltwort to become established, eventually paving the way for marram grass.

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Author: Kevin Rideout

National Trust Visitor Experience Officer based at Studland

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