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Barricane Beach - Shore Safari

This excellent guide is published at www.mortehoe.org by kind permission of our friends at Coastwise North Devon.

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Text-only version is below.


text (c) Paula Ferris

photos (c) Rob Jutsum

 SHORE SAFARI - BARRICANE BEACH

 Tucked away at the north end of Woolacombe, Barricane is a gem of a beach - a safe haven for families, rock-poolers and even surfers looking for a more exclusive wave, and  all  in a fabulous setting.

 Various natural forces have come together here to create this special place for people, and for wildlife.   Geology, wind, waves and weather have created an environment with lots of nooks and crannies, with rock-pools, gullies, boulders, and stones – set amidst plenty of sand.  This provides lots of niches for wildlife, particularly on the lower shore where there is less risk of drying out – one of the greatest hazards in this environment.

Situated in North Devon’s Voluntary Marine Conservation Area

This is a relatively exposed shore, with its own characteristic complement of animals, those that can withstand the forces at work - the Atlantic waves, the tidal range and currents which draw sediment towards Morte where it is stirred up by the turbulence which provides food, attracting fish and cetaceans.

 The seaweed cover on the shore is sparse, except in sheltered corners and rock pools.  The upper and mid shore rocks are home to tenacious animals, limpets, barnacles and mussels clinging on where they can.  Given the hostile environment  most shore animals have evolved to be choosy about where they live.  Good space is at a premium. 

 Winkles and topshells have their preferred places, though at first they seem to be everywhere.  They can be difficult to tell apart but this Flat Winkle is one of the easiest to identify.  Check  the others out to see if you can spot the differences.

 There are a few other sea snails particularly worth looking out for - the Painted Topshell – a splash of vibrant colour in a dark corner, Cowries grazing on damp stones and rocks, as shown here, and Blue-rayed Limpets living on the wrack and kelp. 

 Watch out too for anemones, amongst the most primitive animals you can see here. Note how they are distributed on the shore.  There are six or seven different species to find - Strawberry Anemone shown. Look in rock-pool crannies where others can be well hidden.

 Crabs are plentiful, usually found hiding under stones, in crannies, or amidst weed.  The Shore Crab is the commonest - variable in colouring particularly when young.  The Edible Crab is the most secretive, understandably, this red-eyed  Velvet Swimming Crab - the most feisty, and the Hermit Crab, seen right, surely the most characterful.

Shore fish are well represented but you have to be quick to spot them.  The Common Blenny, Five-Bearded Rockling, shown here, and Scorpion Fish are usually found, often skulking in the weeds or other damp places waiting for the return of the tide.

The shore has its seasons.  Many of the animals including prawns come into the rock-pools as the water warms, migratory jellyfish and nursery fish come into the shallow sandy waters in summer.  Here there will also be shrimps, sand gobies and very occasionally one to be wary of, the Lesser Weaver Fish, with a nasty sting for bare feet.

Barricane offers some exciting finds for the dedicated or lucky rock-pooler – Sea Hares, shown here, come to the mid shore pools to mate and lay their eggs in early summer.  Starfish are sometimes numerous.  Rather exceptionally a Stalked Jellyfish and Conger Eel (below) were spotted on a recent visit.  You never know what you will find.

Enjoy your exploration but take care – this is a precious place for people & wildlife.

Interested in learning more about our coast, its natural and cultural heritage, then contact Coastwise North Devon, www.coastwisenorthdevon.org.uk – the next programme of Thursday morning talks starts in October.

Photos Rob Jutsum