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Spring has sprung in the sea

May 17, 2011

By Julie Hatcher.

Spring really has arrived in the sea judging by the variety and colour of marine wildlife reported to Dorset Wildlife Trust from along our coast this week.

Divers under Swanage Pier spotted breeding black-faced blennies and a male lumpsucker stoically guarding his eggs. A host of kaleidoscope stalked jellyfish were spied opening their blossom-like tentacles in the shallows and the rare anemone shrimp with its blue-striped legs is an early arrival this year.

The first seahorse of the year was recorded at Studland indicating their return from their deeper water wintering grounds.

Spiny seahorse at Studland

Welly Zone volunteers at Weymouth on Saturday found lots of shore crabs carrying their bundles of eggs beneath their tails.  They also discovered the curly egg-ribbons of sea lemons in the rockpools while grey sea-slugs were laying their eggs on the shore at Kimmeridge on Sunday. The Kimmeridge volunteers also came across a large corkwing wrasse nest built of seaweed and left uncovered by the low tide.

Welly Zone Volunteers at Weymouth

Aboard their boat at Worbarrow Bay divers were entertained by a group of bottlenose dolphins on Sunday. On a sadder note, a dead white-beaked dolphin washed up at Osmington Mills at the beginning of the week. The large male was probably from the small population that live in Lyme Bay and are occasionally spotted way out at sea.

Life and death in the sea is often governed by the seasons, just as it is on land. Eggs laid now will hatch and swell the summer populations of creatures as the water warms up.

If you’d like to learn more about some of this weird and wonderful wildlife why not join our Welly Zone volunteers and help us discover exactly what’s happening all along our stunning Dorset coastline? To find out more click here. Free training sessions and colour ID guides are provided to help you carry out simple surveys on your local beach. You can contact me at

When you hear your first cuckoo of the year and watch the Hawthorn blossom turning our hedges white in spring, think about all the activity going on under the sea!

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