Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The rat and the seagull and a coastal ramble

I often hear many amazing seagull stories and the latest to interest me was told to me by my neighbour who witnessed a seagull kill a rat and eat it. My neighbour was visiting a friend and through the patio window of her friend's house they could see a rat in the garden cleaning itself. Down flew a seagull who hit the rat on the back of the neck with its beak, the seagull turned the rat around to then swallow it head first and then flew off.

Elsewhere around the coast things have been less dramatic. As mentioned early there is going to be a cockle harvest at Pegwell Bay this year. The Pegwell Bay cockle harvest is sustainable and only happens every few years when the cockles reach a commercial size. Once the harvest is over the population is then left to recover and then harvested a few years later and so on. The cockles are removed from the sea bed by a fishing boat specially adapted for the task. One year the cockle boat took its load up the river to Sandwich where the cockles were unloaded into a waiting lorry in the car park by the Toll bridge.
Judging by reports in the Thanet Gazette it appears the local Oyster population is now being looked into for commercial exploitation. As many people know the Oysters we see around the coastline are the Pacific Oyster a invasive species that has thrived in our inshore waters. The Oysters do look strong and healthy and are subject to tests to see if they are fit for human consumption.
Around the coast people have been taking them off the shore over the past years and have been eating them. There is no restrictions on how many Oysters are taken but there is a concern on how they are removed because the vast majority of Oysters are attached to the chalk reef or are bedded amongst mussels. Those that are bedded amongst the mussels are damaging the mussel beds by crowding out the mussels. For the mussel population it could be a lose lose situation if the Oysters are taken out recklessly.
The Thanet coast project is undertaking a series of studies into the Pacific Oyster population around the coast. On my part I have noticed how the Oysters have different habits depending on where you are around the coast. They seem to adopt different shapes and colours, for example some will attach to groynes adopting a flat shape and almost resembling the fan shape like the native species. In the Walpole Bay tidal pool Oyster's are found to be elongated like a slipper and lacking colour in the shell, yet in Epple Bay the Oyster's have hints of colour that make them look decorative as they attach to each other adopting random shapes something one would expect from somewhere tropical.