Barnacle – Garbhan carriage coiteann
Have you ever seen cone-shaped shells on the rocks along the shore? Tiny animals called barnacles live underneath these shells. They are related to crabs & like to attach themselves to rocks or walls along the shore. Barnacles only come out from their shell when the tide is in and they are covered in water. They reach out their tiny legs to feed on small water animals passing by.
Bladderwrack – Feamainn Bhoigineach
Found on any rocky shoreline along the seafront – be careful stepping on it as it’s quite slippy when wet and crunchy when dry! It is olive green to yellow to brown when dry. It has been used as a healing aid for centuries growing up to 100cm.
Beadlet Anemone – Bundun Coirnineach
Sea anemones are among the most fascinating and beautiful animals of the seashore. They live attached to the rocks, catching plankton (a mixture of very small plants floating in fresh or saltwater) and tiny animals from the water with their stinging tentacles, and can be found in rocks pools around the low tide mark, sometimes in small groups. During low tide, beadlet anemone retracts their tentacles to avoid dehydration – in this state anemones resemble a blob of jelly, once the water returns they open up again. Beadlet Anemones are most often coloured deep red but also can be brown, orange and green. They measure between 2 and 7cm in diameter.
Common Blue Mussel – Diuilicin
Difficult to find live mussels on our shores but you will find lots of empty shells along our strands. The outside shells are purple, blue or sometimes brown in colour, while the inside is white. Live mussels attached themselves to rocks and stones. Size: 1 – 10cm
Common Limpet – Bairnach Coiteann
Abundant on rocks from the high to low watermark, the common limpet is superbly adapted to shore life. A conical shell protects it from predators and the elements. Common limpets live at the low water mark and are buffed by the waves. Limpets travel slowly during low tide, covering up to 60cm using their single foot. Their shells are greyish in colour and white inside, while empty shells can develop orange, green and brown hues from being continually being washed by the sea.
Edible Cockle – Ruacan
A small animal with a soft body and a hard shell shaped like a heart. Cockles are molluscs (without a backbone) with two hinged shells that open and close. They are kinds of clams. People sometimes eat cockles. Buried in the sandy mud along the shore – you might have to dig to find live ones! Size: 5cm
European Cowrie – Finicin Eorpach
Washed ashore and normally in the middle of lots of other shells, these small species are difficult to find. Sometimes used as money in some Asian & African cultures the shells are creamy pink to orangey-brown and are up to 1.2cm in diameter
Lugworm – Lugach
One of the most familiar sights on any western European shoreline is the neat, coiled casts of undigested sand deposited by lugworms. The worm itself is rarely seen, remaining hidden in its U-shaped tube beneath the surface of the sand. However locally you can find them at low tide on the muddy part of the shore. The worm may be pink, red, brown, black or green. These fleshy worms are a favourite food of many wading birds and also used by fishermen as bait.
Painted Topshell – Faochan Mhuire dathannach
The Painted Topshell is easy to distinguish from the other topshells by its colourful cone-shaped shell. The animal is known to keep its shell clean by rubbing it with its extendable foot. Mainly empty shells are found locally, but they’re quite beautiful; a pink shell with darker banding and white spots and can be up to 3cm in diameter.
Purple Flat Topshell – Faochan Mhuire corcra
From the same family as the Painted Topshell they are very plentiful on all our shores. They are grey-green in colour with purple markings and are up to 2cm in size.
Edible Periwinkle – Gioradan
The edible, or common, periwinkle is the largest of the winkles, about 3.5cm with a pointed shell. It lives all over the upper and middle shores, on bare rocks as well as beneath rocks and seaweeds.
Rough Periwinkle – Faocha Gharbh
The rough periwinkle, with its deeply grooved shell, is well-adapted for surviving on the shoreline. They are quite plentiful along our shores, rock pools and under seaweed. With lots of empty shells washing up on the stands, although they can be varied in colour; brown, green, yellow, dark purple and orange – white are the most common to our area.
Flat Periwinkle – Faocha Leathan
The flat periwinkle, which is slightly larger than the rough has a smooth shell ranging from white to black through shades of yellow, red and brown. These shells are a very plentiful and very colourful addition to your shell collection.
Razor Shells – Scian mhara chuar
The common razor shell is known for its elongated, rectangular shape, whose similarity to the straight razor gives it its name and can be up to 23cm in length. Razor shells have a fragile shell, with open ends. The shell is smooth on the outside and whitish in colour but often covered with a brown flaky covering and most often found washed up on beaches and shores.
Shore Crabs – Portan glas
The common shore crab is abundant and can easily be found hiding under seaweed, rocks, in shallow water or buried in the soft mud at low tide. Colours vary from greenish-brown, yellow, red to black and can measure up to 7cm. Shore crabs feed on worms, shrimps, molluscs and even cannibalism isn’t unheard of!
King Scallop – Muirin Mor
Live king scallop can be found along the shore at very low tides are native to the waters around Valentia and empty shells can be found along the shore. Live scallops are reddish-brown but empty shells can often be washed whiter and can measure up to 16cm.