What ideas come to mind when I say I visited the “British seaside”? Gentle waves and soft breezes? Fish n chips, ice cream, and pasties? Cloudy rain drenched skies flowing into a stormy sea? Cheery seaside shops wafting scents of fudge? Seaside pubs with crisp beers and gorgeous views? Fishing boats and crab traps? All of those and more are fairly accurate.
My program’s first field trip of the year was out to a small coastal town northeast of Nottingham called Scarborough. My classmates who went on this field trip last year had an absolutely terrible experience. Nervous about torrential downpours, wicked winds, deathly chills, and an all-around terrifying time, I packed every layer I could scrounge up from what I had brought from the States. However, the seaside gods must have smiled on our group this year, as it turned out to be an absolutely magical day out on the coast. Unfortunately, this meant I had to lug all my camera gear in addition to extra layers, but if that was the cost of the day, I can’t complain too much. 🙂
Aside, notice I’m saying “coast” and not “beach”. For my West Coast, Stateside friends, California has “beaches” and Oregon has “the coast”, if that helps the association. Huge difference. Beaches are lovely, sunny places you go to tan and go on holiday. Coasts are windy and chilly, but absolutely breathtaking in their own right.
At any rate, the low tide was fantastic for taking photographs along the tidepools.
I worked on my macro photography skills, battling the close shot with a healthy fear that saltwater and expensive camera gear do not go together. The first discovery of the day was a green shore crab (Carcinus maenas) that was in the process of digging itself back into the sand. Don’t let its name fool you, there are reddish/orange variants of green shore crabs. If you look closely, you can see the classic green color on its legs.
Some of the undergraduates who came on the trip with us found a few common hermit crabs (Pagurus bernhardus). This one was quite shy to come out on land, but once it was placed back into the water, it scuttled off rapidly.
Underneath and on the sides many of the rocks in the tidepools there were many brightly colored beadlet anemones (Actinia equina). This was an reddish-orange variant. Underwater, it gently fanned its tentacles in search of prey.
Naturally, there were a veritable boatload (pun intended) of seagulls. This herring gull (Larus argentatus) was just a juvenile, but was still quite bold in search of any food the humans “left behind”.
All and all it was a picturesque introduction to one of many British seaside towns. Don’t worry; I had the full British experience. I had some scrumptious fish n chips, Yorkshire style, made with beef drippings (don’t knock it until you try it). It was challenging to eat, as I was served an entire fried fish over a huge bed of chips (French fries), all resting on a tiny cardboard tray. It’s meant to be wrapped up in paper but I definitely did not succeed with that. Despite the difficulties it was mouth-wateringly good. I also tried my first “99 Flake”, which is vanilla ice cream with a chocolate flake stick inserted in it. Normally it’s served on a cone but I had it in a cup, because, neatness and all. My classmates and I finished up the day with a few beers at a nearby pub and enjoyed the last views. I can’t wait until the spring when I can travel to more coastal towns!