Whether you are just visiting or a permanent resident, you’d be mad to miss the wildlife in our famous rock pools!
You may be surprised to know that a five-minute drive (or less) from the hustle and bustle of Blackpool town centre lies a little piece of paradise. Blackpool South Beach (known as Starr Gate) has won the Blue Flag award for the third year running! From the sand dunes to the famous glitter ball is a quiet area of the beach with stunning views and blue seas
Here you will find our coastal defense wall which is arranged in a series of honeycomb-shaped sections. After high tide, each one of these cells becomes a rock pool teeming with life. Each is different to the next and hosts its own microhabitat.
When is best to visit?
The most exciting time to visit is just as the tide goes out as the pools have just been replenished with fresh, oxygenated water. Please check the tide times on the day that you are planning to visit by following this link. Remember to keep your wits about you and keep an eye on the tide. Far too many people every year underestimate the power of the ocean. Blackpool Seafront is a wonderful place and children can learn so much about our native marine life but please be safe and mindful.
What can I expect to find?
We have recently seen a huge increase in the number of Beadlet Sea Anemones (Actinia Equina). These are as beautiful as any tropical species and provide shelter and food to a host of other marine life. On our excursion, we found around half a dozen in every single pool!
If you peek over the edge of one of these pools very quietly and slowly, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a fish. These pools are teeming with gobies and blennies, both of which are more often associated with tropical marine tanks. They are, however, shy and alert and will often shoot out of sight if they see you first. We saw Shanny Blennies (Lipophrys pholis) and Common Gobies (Pomatoschistus microps). Did you Know that the famous Mudskipper fish is a species of Goby? Our native Gobies and Blennies can frequently be seen “walking” on their fins in the same way as their more exotic cousins.
Note the amazing cryptic camouflage on this shanny!
We also found scores of baby flatfish hiding in the tide. This shallow water is warmer and food is more concentrated here than further out. Kids are fascinated by these asymmetrical wonders of nature. It is easy to forget how amazing evolution really is until you stop for a moment and realise how truly perfectly everything fits into its environment.
Legs and Claws
Of course no visit to the rock pools of Blackpool would be complete without catching shrimps and crabs! Please show the kids what fascinating creatures these truly are. I found it best to get my children’s attention by screaming wildly and pretending to be dragged into a pool before revealing the crab. You may find it better to take a more subtle (but far less fun) approach. Take a small net with you and gently skim over the sand in shallow water and you are sure to catch shrimps and prawns.
Jelly in all the colours of the rainbow!!!
It is worth pointing out, at this point, that even the familiar demands a closer look. Everybody knows gooseberry jellies (not technically a jellyfish). They are the little snotty blobs of clear jelly that float around in shallow water. They do nothing at all right? WRONG! These creatures are blessed with a divine beauty that only those who take the time to observe them closely will ever know. They move around by waving rows of tiny hair-like cells to propel them through the water. If you watch for a while you will see that these cells refract light much like a prism to reveal in intense colour show!
Be a responsible Rockpooler…
Let us keep our Blue flag Beach! If you take snacks or drinks, please please take your litter home with you. We can’t emphasise this point enough. In the 2 hours that we spent Rock pooling, we didn’t see a single piece of litter and that contributed overwhelmingly to the experience. We are nature’s guardians. When exploring or turning over stones, be gentle and always leave everything exactly as you found it. To hundreds of animals, each pool is home. Many of the species that we encountered are territorial and disrupting their habitat will cause them stress. If you’re a responsible rockpooler, it will be like you were never there. At Atlas Aquatics our aim is to ignite the same passion for life that we feel every day. There is nothing more rewarding than learning and passing on knowledge. It’s time to turn the computer off and go exploring! If you want to feel that same excitement and wonder that you felt when you were younger, you need to act like you did back then and look upon everything as though it was for the first time.
If you do get a chance to go exploring on the beach, and would like any species information, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Blackpool SeaLife Centre is a fantastic local attraction with a huge variety of local marine life and also tropical species such as sharks and seahorses. If you want to get up close and personal with the fishes, please visit them by clicking on this link.