Improvised Rockpools at Sandown

My daughter and I have been dining out on all this sunny weather and have been regularly visiting the beach. One of our favourites is the sections of beach between the groynes opposite Dinosaur Isle. We often choose the least populated sections of sand (not that they are ever over saturated with people, even with the summer we’ve been having) and on this occasion we happened to throw our towels down next to one of the groynes. We didn’t think much of it as we dashed into the still blue sea for a swim and a play.

It was only when we got close to the groyne that we noticed tyres, cut in half, and attached to the upper sections of the groynes on both sides. We walked back up the beach so we could climb onto the groyne and then balanced along the wind-beaten wood to investigate. 

We found tyres covered with barnacles, muscles and limpets and each one filled with water like improvised rock pools. They were literally swimming with life, from little fish, to seaweed, wrack and what looked like various anemone, and even something that we thought was a sea cucumber. 

I actually knew that these tyres had been put there by a friend of mine called Ian Boyd, who is part of a team consisting of Arc and Ecclestone George, as part of their project called Artecology(ärt-ĭ-kŏl′ə-jē) a ‘mixed discipline ecology/art dealing with biological relationships between organisms & the built environment.’ 

One of Artecology’s projects is to establish rockpools in areas where there are none, to encourage biodiversity and wildlife to establish itself in and around manmade tidal engineering. One of their first improvised pools was the Sandown tyres and they have been sitting there, on that groyne, since 2013. Year on year they have been encouraging sea squirts, bryozoans, hydroids, nudibranchs, molluscs, crustaceans and various fish species to live inside, which is an amazing thing! It certainly fascinated my daughter and brought nature a little closer. 

We will certainly be visiting more of Artecology’s man-made nature traps in other locations around the Island. For more information on the Sandown tyre pools and other projects visit the Artecology website.

Philip Bell Author Photo by Chris Cowley

2 August 2018

By Philip Bell in The locals' blogs