We’ve started exploring the local marine environment. Snorkelling shallow bays. Rambling about rocky headlands. Peering into pools and crevices. Venturing onto rocky shelves when the sea is calm and the tide at its lowest.
It is a return to our childhoods. For both Paul and me, it was exploration just like this which first awoke our fascination for biology and our love of the natural world.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the marine environment is the sheer breadth of biodiversity. A single rock pool can be home to almost every major animal phylum - Cnidaria, Chordata, Echinodermata, Mollusca, Porifera, Annelida, Arthropoda, Bryozoa .. and many others I’m yet to recognise.
And then there’s the algae, which in itself is beautiful and mysterious.
An octopus’s garden, indeed!
Algae and sponges are among the least studied groups of organisms - giving names to many of these is quite literally impossible.
Given that the sea is where life began, this diversity shouldn’t surprise me. Yet I find it both amazing and wonderful, still.
Here are a few of the marine animals that have caught our attention in the past two of weeks.