A SEA spider, a gold crest and lots of weever fish were just some of the unexpected finds during yesterday’s Bio-Blitz in Woolacombe.
The nature count was held to celebrate to 10th anniversary of the areas UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Members of the public joined together with nature experts to record as many species of wildlife as possible over an eight hour period.
Becky Seeley and Esther Hughes from the Marine Biology Association were in charge of counting the data, and at first look they estimated that between 500 and 600 different species had been recorded.
Becky said: “It’s been a really successful day, and we still have lots more data to record.
“We have even had a region first, an Australian Lady Bird has been recorded by one of our nature experts, and there has only ever been one other spotting in the UK, it’s certainly a first for the Southwest.
“We have had a really good diverse mix.”
Esther added: “One of the bird experts also spotted a Gold Crest.
“They are the UK’s smallest bird, measuring just 8.5cm, and are really quite rare. It has been a pretty exciting day.”
Douglas Herdson, a freelance fish biologist, said that the beach was absolutely full of weever fish.
“There are lots weever fish out there, far more than we expected.
“They are usually very hard to see though as they dart in and out of the sand so quickly.
“They normally only sting if they have been stood on, so try to keep and eye out. They usually live near the waters edge in the wet sand.”
Sue Austin, from Coastwise, was one of the event’s organisers.
She said: “It’s been an absolutely brilliant day, and the gods have shined on us.
“The weather has been perfect for a nature count and the children have absolutely loved it.”
The final number of species counted during the Bio-Blitz will be disclosed later on in the week, but it is thought that more than 600 were recorded.
Weever fish are a long, mainly brown species of fish that inhabit warm, shallow water. They have poisonous spines on their fins and gills, which they use to sting people if threatened, usually as a result of being stood on.
Weever Fish factfile
Although extremely unpleasant, weever stings are not generally dangerous and the pain will ease considerably within a few hours even if untreated. Here is what the NHS advise anyone who has been stung by a weever fish to do:
• Immerse the affected body part in hot water (as hot as you can stick it) and leave it there for 30-90 minutes.
• Take some paracetamol to control any pain.
• Any large spines should be carefully removed from the wound using tweezers (avoid touching the spines with your bare hands).
• Clean the wound using soap and water and then rinse it with fresh water. Do not cover the wound.
• Seek first aid or medical attention if any spines are embedded in a wound.