One lovely day in August as part of the annual village festival there was a marine walk along the Blackhead Path along Belfast Lough. This walk was led by the Ulster Wildlife Trust and there were a couple of very knowledgable folk in the know there to help us explore the rock pools during low tide. Being from the Canadian prairies, this was a whole new experience to me as well as the children.
Tristan found it a little rough going over the uneven rocks to get out far enough to where the action was, but by the time it was time to head back to shore, he was feeling much more confident in his abilities and was enjoying it a lot more.
Kallista is more sure of herself, or maybe still young enough not to worry about falling backwards off a rock into a pool and soaking the back of herself. Oops! I promised her I wasn’t going to tell anyone!
There are lots of little sea creatures living in these rock pools. Some you can see just by looking into the pools and up the sides of the rocks. Creatures like limpets, barnacles, and sea anemones. Barnacles are interesting as they swim along and then bump into rocks, boats, etc with their heads. Then their heads become cemented to the surface and they cannot be separated. At this point then they push their legs out the back of the shell and filter-feed from what is in the water passing by.
When some of the rocks are turned over, there are many more creatures to discover. Tristan really wanted to see a star fish, and he did see a tiny red brittle star. Under one rock there was a lot of life: breadcrumb sponge, the brittle star, sea anemone, and 2 sea squirts. The sea squirts were quite fun to me, but not as much to Tristan at the time when the man pressed on one and squirted Tristan in the belly! Though later that day Tristan laughed about it!
We saw periwinkles, hermit crabs, dog whelk, and chiton.
There were many types of seaweed as well: sea lettuce was bright green, popcorn seaweed we often see and has little nodules on it that are tempting to ‘pop’, and we saw some Dulce as well. Dulce is harvested in Northern Ireland, dried, and sold in our local green grocer’s. A few days after our walk I purchased a fresh bag for Tristan to try. It is a dark purple hue and smells of the sea (funny that!). Tristan loves it and asks for it with his snacks and his soup. Kallista will always ask for it, but as soon as you give her a little piece, she hands it back and says she’s full!
We had a lot of fun on this walk, and as this beautiful location is within walking distance to us, we will be making many return trips to explore and discover the fascinating creatures that reside there. We have already added some of these to our nature walk activity folder.
Our phot was in the local paper. As you can see, this type of learning is of interest to a wide variety of people. This is the type of activity and learning that can expand each year as the children get older. They can learn more about the marine habitat and about each of the little creatures we see. This also means that I will continue to learn more about the environment I live in as well!
For more inspiration on getting kids in touch with nature, swim over to our nature activities for kids page.