As young naturalist Dara McAnulty notes in his excellent blog, its a lot harder to blog about this month’s wild moments than it is to experience them: wildlife pervades our daily lives no matter where you live, although it may be that some of us need to spend some time ‘tuning in’ to the natural world. I’m lucky to live in a particularly wild location, where it’s hard not to encounter some brilliant wildlife everyday, but even in our cities and concrete metropolises can be found a host of intriguing creatures and characters to marvel at. Anyway – the point I was getting to is that maintaining a daily blog is tricky at times, so I’m a bit behind!
The ever-changing weather conditions on Ynys Enlli ensure there is never a dull moment (quite literally!). Today couldn’t have been much more contrasted from start to finish: temperatures exceeded 20’C by 9am, with a humid heat pressing down under a glaring sun; yet by late afternoon a chilly south-westerly wind had whipped up and drew a veil of moist fog over the island.
It’s a brief blog for Day 21 of #30DaysWild – the summer solstice! Here are the highlights of today’s random acts of wildness…
Snorkelling in Cafn
I took advantage of the silky-smooth seas early afternoon to take a quick underwater explore in the bay, and there was a brilliant diversity of life to be seen…
Blue Jellyfish were by far the most noticeable organisms in attendance: I counted around 30 individuals drifting about in slow-motion, their white and purple tentacles stretched out like a net over many metres.
This species is a common visitor to British waters from May to October, after hatching from its sedentary polyp life stage early in the year. The mobile adult medusa (the jellyfish stage of their lives) floats about ensnaring plankton, small fish and other jellyfish as the organisms gradually grows throughout the year.
As can be seen above, their colour is highly variable: from translucent white through to violet, deep purple, pale yellow and sometimes a mixture of each! They do give a mild sting, but it’s barely as painful as a nettle so there isn’t too much to worry about.
In addition to the floating jellies, there were several shoals of ‘white bait’ shimmering past; wrasse of varying sizes and dazzling colours lurked amongst the kelp forests; twin-spotted gobies displayed to each other in the shallows; and of course the odd inquisitive Grey Seal appeared out of the blue, before disappearing in a ghostly form.
The water column was also full of a plethora of different ctenophores: also known as Comb Jellies, this phylum includes an diverse array of invertebrates that possess a strip of comb-like cilia along their jelly surface which they use for swimming. I observed some of the commonly encountered species like Beroe cucumis and the Sea Gooseberry (Pleurobrachia pileus), alongside many other bizarre lifeforms with rainbow-like colouration on their surface and sparkling iridescent cilia. Amazing creatures (but very hard to capture on camera due to their size).