Shores of Salcombe Harbour

Lat/long Shores of Salcombe Harbour
50 14.04N
50 14.10N
03 45.78W
03 45.89W
50 13.85N
50 13.93N
03 45.95W
03 46.23W

Location description (1957)
Shores of Salcombe Harbour. Continuing northward from Woodville Rocks to near the Ferry is a stretch of rather narrow shore, with ground of varied texture, usually referred to as "below the Marine Hotel". Opposite, on the eastern bank, is a stretch of sandy shore "between the Ferry House and Mill Bay", or frequently spoken of simply as "Mill Bay". These two shores have long been regularly visited at least on one or two of the best spring tides of the year, being very productive of burrowing invertebrates, some not obtainable on the shore anywhere else in the district. This fauna is now strictly limited to the zone below M.L.W.S. (It may be emphasized that unless the predicted tide is at least 0.5 feet below Chart Datum the ground is not worth visiting.) Only in this region-below M.L.W.S.- does the slope of the shore tend to flatten out and form a shelf to the edge of the main channel. Formerly these flats carried luxuriant beds of eel-grass (Zostera marina) especially on the Mill Bay shore, which eroded subsequent to the strange decline of the Zostera in 1931, and lost up to perhaps 2 feet in vertical height (see Wilson, 1949). The varied burrowing fauna supported by these beds (particularly at their margins and in the barer spots between patches of weed) has suffered as a result of this wastage of the substratum because the area of suitable ground has shrunk and perhaps because the surviving Zostera, less robust than formerly, does not provide such adequate shelter. The Mill Bay shore is sandy throughout, the prevailing south-west wind causing a shift of sand towards and beyond H.W. mark. Here dune formation is taking place in small inlets, and rocks formerly bare are being covered. In the past this process was checked by the carting away of much sand from the H.W. region. The rise of sand in the 1930s was no doubt accelerated by wastage of the Zostera beds. The slope down to L.W.S. is largely barren sand except for Talitrus saltator. Arenicola marina and Lanice conchilega. Between mid-tide and L.W. the lugworm is dominant. Below L.W.S., where more or less level areas begin to appear, the sand has a higher silt content. Here patches of Zostera are established and may be slowly increasing, but the growth cannot be compared with that prior to 1930. The fauna adjacent to or within these patches is stm varied and unusual, being dominated by Echinocardium cordatum and Acrocnida brachiata. Below the Marine Hotel the upper part of the shore is bare rock, changing at about mid-tide level to barren stones, which merge into stony gravel with varying amount of mud. The amount of mud in the gravel has clearly decreased since 1930. At. L.W.S. there appear, between rather barren stretches of gravel, some localized patches of silty sand with Zostera. The chief Zostera patches are towards Woodville Rocks, where the sublittoral flat is at its widest, and much ground is exposed as the tide recedes from about 1 to 2 feet O.D. Owing to the more varied nature of the ground on this west shore, a more varied selection of species has been recorded, and may still be found, but many quite sparingly and few in any plenty. It is difficult to assess the true effect of the wastage of the former Zostera beds on the fauna of the two shores. The most conspicuous losses have been in the burrowing anemones Cerianthus, Edwardsia, and Halcampa, which-in the l950s -seem to be completely missing. One or two lamellibranchs, e.g. Lutraria lutraria, may have disappeared with the high Zostera beds, but other species have been added latterly, and if anything the variety in this group is greater than before. Ensis siliqua is less frequent in Mill Bay than formerly, and the gephyrean Golfingia elongata has very greatly declined, but other causes are suspected! of having contributed to this result. It is doubtless true that a general fauna collection made on any one tide will be smaller now than before 1930, but this is partly because the tidal level of the productive flats has dropped, giving the collector less time in which to work. With the exceptions mentioned, an interesting variety of species may still be collected on both shores. The terebellid Amphitrite edwardsi, with its striking polynoid commensal Lepidasthenia argus, seems to be as readily obtained today as ever it was; and several species that were always scarce, such as Labidoplax digitata, Loimia medusa, Devonia perrieri, Peachia hastata, etc., are no scarcer today.
Updated information Description updated in 1999
Species List >Octopus vulgaris
Ophiothrix fragilis
Psammechinus miliaris