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Archive for the ‘Local Wildlife’ Category

The Underwater World

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Underwater-Furrowed-crab-Kimmeridge-Julie-HatcherWhether you’re one minute away from the beach or one hour, for many of us, living so close to the sea is one of the best things about living in Dorset. Underwater-Cushion-star-Julie-Hatcher Already this year, our marine conservation team have been finding exciting and unusual things washed up on our beaches at low tide.  The ‘furrowed crab’ was a great find with it being the first recording of this species for Kimmeridge. Underwater-Anemone-shrimp-Chris-Roberts This crab is also a ‘climate change indicator species’ as we’re seeing them spread further north, in line with our seas warming up.  Other seashore species which have been spreading eastwards into Dorset include the ‘toothed topshells’.  These sea snails are common further west but have grown from none at all in the early 2000s to being a common find at Kimmeridge. The small cushion starfish has also become common at Kimmeridge since the first sighting in 2014, and the exotic-looking anemone shrimp that lives within the stinging tentacles of the snakelocks anemone, has also increased in number in recent years.

This year on June 8th,  World Ocean Day celebrated our oceans by encouraging everyone to get out and explore their nearest coastline.

For DWT events:


For the snorkel trail and the Fine Foundation Wild Seas Centre at Kimmeridge:


The top three things to look for this summer on the coast:

Underwater-Stranded-Seahorse-Gail-Frogpie1.  Seahorses:  There have been an unusual amount of seahorses washed up on beaches this year.  This could be a good indicator that we have a healthy population in Dorset.  Let us know if you find one!

2.  Cushion starfish: In rockpools, the cushion star glides along on its myriad tiny tube-feet, as if sliding on ice. This small relative of star fish feeds by everting part of its stomach through its mouth to digest dead and decaying animals and seaweed.Underwater-Flat-Periwinkle

3.  Flat periwinkle: Look for the flat periwinkle in seaweedy pools. They range in colour from sunshine yellow, through burnt orange to chocolate brown and are easy to spot amongst the sea wrack fronds they graze on. The yellow shells are particularly easy to spot, looking like discarded sweetcorn kernels!Underwater-logo

Look out, look out, Otters about!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

By Clive Martin

In 1999 I attended a seminar on the subject of Dorset Otters run by The Dorset Wildlife Trust. Having been a wildlife enthusiast since the age of six I was able to get great information about how I could help monitor the status of this enigmatic river creature to our local rivers and streams.

At the hands of man this animal had been driven to the very point of extinction. Once the Otter Hounds had “done their job” and nearly eradicated the otter then poisons took over to finish the job!

Fortunately, as the human being often does with wildlife, we came to our senses just in time and the consequences are that the European river otter (Lutra lutra) has made a remarkable comeback.

So my task was to observe the rivers and streams local to Verwood and look for signs of any otter activity.

Can you try to imagine a very boring little concrete pathway bridge adjacent to Potterne Park and a lady taking her beloved pooch for a walk when from underneath this bridge, as she walked over it, came a “Eureka” shriek….I had found my first evidence of the comeback to Verwood rivers of the Otter. A tar marking!! The dear dog walker nearly died of shock!

Otters leave behind them good evidence of their presence, one such clue is a territorial “splodge” known as a tar mark. This together with a more solid form of “pooh” known as a “spraint” is simply irrefutable evidence of otter presence. The smell is unique.

So you have got the hang of this…otter experts lurk under bridges and shriek and they smell pooh !  Wonderful! Weird…well yes …but actually it really was wonderful and I will never forget my first success at monitoring the presence of this creature once again in Verwood.

So time has gone on and we are now in a time when lots of folk take the trouble and are rewarded with wildlife interests and sightings…..and sightings of otters are becoming common place in a certain area of Verwood. Let me explain. Young otters, in particular the young males (dogs) are forced to find territories of their own and as such go on a wander.

One such otter is doing exactly this in an area of Verwood and local residents may not be pleased with his activities.

He has discovered that breakfast lunch and dinner is provided by us humans in the form of otter restaurants known to us as ponds !

Residents of the area adjacent to the Dewlands Common area are being visited by such a rascal and are devastated to find that their fish and frogs have been wiped out in one sitting and generally overnight. Coy carp are expensive and let’s face it even fish become part of the family….so to have them decimated is not funny.

I have heard reports of strange animals being seen by the illumination of street lamps….of dogs maniacally barking….and of several ponds being attacked by unknown nocturnal beasts of the night.

So the purpose of this article is to suggest that residents of the area mentioned and even beyond it protect their ponds…..otherwise you may suffer the consequences of a hungry otter who has absolutely no compunction in eating your £500 Coy Carp and everything else in your pond including the frogs…legs and all!

Lightweight plastic protective meshing is not good enough and you might consider a DIY wooden framed wire meshing as mitigation! Whatever you use make it strong and leave no access to the pond.

Can I just add that the otter is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act so please don’t even think about harming them………you have been warned and you can protect your ponds so please do so…or suffer a pile of scales and bones one morning.

 See: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/ottersandstillwaterfisheries_tcm6-4592.pdf

It gives useful info on how you can secure your pond against otter predation.