More strand shells after Cornish gales

Although the North Coast of Cornwall was sheltered from the direct force of the severe South Easterly gale of March 7th. 1962, the 70 mile an hour wind combined with Spring tides flooded the lower part of Padstow and left tell-tale strand lines of thousands of shells on the adjacent beaches, as on the South coast. A visit to Harlyn Bay soon afterwards produced a large number of species but of those species which characterised the strand lines in St. Austell Bay during the same period (see Conchologists Newsletter No. 6 pp. 31-32), Otter shells, Lutraria lutraria L., Banded Wedge shells, Donax vittatus (da C.) and Razor shells, Ensis sp. were completely absent and Rayed Trough shells, Mactra corallina (L.) and Thin Tellins, Tellina tenuis da C. only scantily represented. The dominant species was the Common Mussel, Mytilus edulis L. which covers so much of the exposed rock face on the North coast of Cornwall.

Many minute species and juvenile forms of shells were oast ashore and about 36 species were collected. Of the more unusual ones for Marine Census Area 20 were Alvania crassa (Kanmacher), Clathrus clathratulus (Kanmacher), Trophon muricatus (Mont.), Haedropleura septangularis (Mont.) and Chauvetia brunnea (Donovan).

I have often noticed that there is a time lag between an actual gale and the appearance of a strand line, and the dominant species in a strand line may change after a day or two. A friend visiting Harlyn Bay on March 12th. found a strand line of tiny shells of which by far the commonest type were Saddle Oysters (Anomia sp.). Also not all winds bring in shells. For instance a strong North West gale on December 9th. 1962 brought in tons of seaweed, about 4 feet deep along much of the line and apparently from deep water as there were many Red Algae covered with Bryozoa, Sponges, Tunicates and Coelenterates - but no shells. By December 19th. the seaweed had all gone and there was a thin scatter of shells, mixed with Cuttle fish bone. In all I have found some 70 species of shells since I started strand shell spotting in January, 1962.