National Trust Purbeck Wildlife

Beachcombing for ever!

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I’ve enjoyed beachcombing since I was a youngster so a new seashore book was an ideal gift. And an eye-opener too, answering some questions that have always puzzled me. For example, how come those egg masses laid by common whelks, that look like decayed bathroom sponges, are so much bigger that the animal itself? Well, it’s the result of many individual whelks glueing their eggs together.

So what causes the patterns of small holes and tunnels on the shells of slipper limpets and oysters? It’s a type of sponge, Cliona celata, which secretes acid to dissolve the calcium carbonate that the shells are made of, creating a space to live in.

And did you know that Cuttlefish breed only once, and then die leaving just the bone to wash up on beaches, and keel worms, that form intricate sculptures of small white tubes on stones and shells, really do colonise the hulls of ships?

keel worms on an oyster shell

keel worms on an oyster shell


Author: Kevin Rideout

National Trust Visitor Experience Officer based at Studland

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