19 Mar 2015

A quick beach trip on a sunny day and meeting a ribbon worm.

Finally, blue skies. I should have been doing other things, but it seemed wrong not to steal a few minutes on the beach.

A quick scurry along the rocks past Coastguard Cottage and saw a belemnite guard flanked by two pyritized, exploded...things. Early jurassic, may just be geological artefacts like my cone-in-cone mistake. If anyone has any ideas, let me know:

I turned over a rock in a rockpool. Introducing several Lineus ruber, ribbon worms here lurking in sandy seaweed. Part of the phylum Nemertea they (mostly) catch small prey by everting a poison spined proboscis, seizing, subduing and sucking in prey items. Some smaller ones filterfeed and others live symbiotically in the mantles of shellfish. These were just a few centimetres long, but one specimen belonging to the Nemertea has been estimated at 54 metres (150+ feet) long (Ruppert, E.E., Fox, R.S., and Barnes, R.D. (2004). "Nemertea". Invertebrate Zoology (7 ed.). Brooks / Cole. pp. 271–274. ISBN 0-03-025982-7. in case you're having trouble believing that. And yes, that would make it the longest creature known to have lived. With a poisonous, spiny, shooting out nose.)

The knotted wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) swirled on the rising tide. The Bay was misty; some industrial murk as been kindly shared by our European neighbours and the easterly wind is blowing it across the North Sea.
I picked up a dozen or so ammonites and a few belemnites. There was an outdoor education class on the beach that had suffered a fossil-light day so I gave all my specimens but one away.

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