Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nippers


Today's Guardian Country Diary is about the return of marine life to the Durham coast at Dawdon, where coal mining waste was dumped onto the beach until Dawdon colliery was closed in 1991. An underwater survey by divers at that time found half a metre of coal silt on the sea floor at Noses Point (in the background of this photo) and water that was so turbid that it was impossible to see any marine life.





















Since then the Turning the Tide campaign has cleaned up the beaches, to the point where this beach was recently described in the Guardian as one of the best lesser-known National Trust beaches in the UK 

Click here for more pictures and information about the restored coastline here.

Meanwhile the waves have done their work offshore, washing away the coal spoil, so now it's a beach where you can go rock-pooling again. We found this shore crab amongst the rocks near Noses Point. The pointed abdomen under its body indicates that it's a male.

























Catching a shore crab took me back to childhood rock-pooling days, and learning to pick up an angry crab between finger and thumb on either side of the shell. That armoured carapace protects the crab from predators but prevents it reaching above its shell with those powerful nippers. This method of holding them works well with shore crabs but from painful experience I've learned that this is less successful with velvet swimming crabs whose nippers seem to be better articulated and can reach back to deliver a very strong pinch. 


















12 comments:

  1. It is a good size and colour. I find a nip from a prawn more distressing than the Velvet crab but both are best avoided.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Velvet crabs are very reluctant to let go!

      Delete
  2. It's nice to be reminded that Nature, herself, can put right some of the major damage done by man in the name of progress. A very heartening story, Phil. However, she still needs a helping hand in many areas!

    Super images of the crab!

    Best wishes - - - - Richard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Richard. I find the way that Nature reclaims industrial sites rather inspiring. Some of the old lead mines in Weardale are now SSSIs

      Delete
  3. Up in Scotland crabbing in the harbour with a fish head on a line was a popular sport, there were even official competitions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saw a lot of people doing it at Wells-next-the-Sea when we were on holiday in Norfolk

      Delete
  4. How wonderful that the area is recovering. Funny - 1991 doesn't seem like it should be almost 25 years ago! The next to last photo says it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember going there in the 1980s when people were collecting sea coal from the beach

      Delete
  5. So heartening to know about the cleaning up efforts. Our successive governments have not been able to clean up the river Ganges:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The loss of heavy industries here has led to many job losses here but the environment is much cleaner now

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I grew up on the coast and always liked crabs. They have a lot of character.

      Delete