Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Finding sea shells at Botany Bay Broadstairs

Over the past decade Botany Bay Broadstairs has become increasingly popular for all sorts of activities. One of the reasons I believe is that the headland  of coastline from Foreness Point to Kingsgate Bay that forms Botany Bay is completely natural. Gone are the concrete promenades that form the Thanet sea defence system leaving the area as nature intended with very little evidence of the twenty first century.
Off shore is where the water from the Thames Estuary , Southern North sea and the Northern end of the English channel merge. This leaves the entire shoreline open to all sorts of possibilities for the intrepid beachcomber when the wind blows directly on shore.
The shoreline is incredibly clean and on the right winds and tides many interesting finds can be found on both the high water and low water areas. There are three main types of fossils that can be found, being belemnites, sea urchins and the marble size fossilized sponges. Towards the Kingsgate Bay side of Botany bay the Micraster  heart shape sea urchin can be found. I do not consciously look for fossils in the area as I collect the sea shells but when I do come across fossils I do pick them up. So I do know of their existence.
All the sea shells that are found are common to the south coast and they come directly off the chalk reef that surrounds the Thanet coastline. The area has to be one of the best for finding dog whelk, netted dog whelk and piddock sea shells. Then there are mussel shells, whelk, slipper limpet, common limpet, periwinkles, carpet shells taking the second ranking. Even though cockles, pacific oysters and razor fish shells are common to Thanet they are less prolific in the Botany Bay area giving them third ranking.
There is one observation I have made regarding Botany Bay sea shells  and these are the shells of the common whelk. The whelk shells are bigger, thicker, heavier than those found elsewhere in the Thanet area  and all bear the scars of a turbulent life. This suggests to me that the whelk has completed its live and death cycle and these whelks have not been harvested from deeper offshore and then dumped  inshore after they have been picked like many of the whelk shells that litter the Margate and Ramsgate areas of the Thanet coastline.
In the Botany Bay area I have found small scallops shells, Baltic tellin, thin tellin, prickly cockle, sea urchins and sea potato sea urchin shells and these have been on rare occasions on favourable winds.

2 comments:

John Holyer said...

Your posts are refreshing and interesting.

Tony Ovenden said...

Thanks John