Connemara Companions

It’s that time of year again, the Equinox, when low-tiders’ thoughts turn to shores and field work.  The Conch. Soc.’s annual marine meeting took place in Connemara.  Six of us shared a cottage on the island of Inishnee, near Roundstone.  This area has found recent fame, thanks to Monty Halls and his tv programme Great Irish Escapes.

We converged at our base over the weekend and on Monday we drove north to Doonloughan for our first rendez-vous with the other participants. We parked on the new pier, littered with crab pots, and dropped down onto the beach.  It was a fun shore to work consisting of sands and gravels with scattered rock outcrop resulting in channels and runnels.  In places the narrow gullies and the drainage to low water, resulted in stretches of fast-moving water.  Some filter-feeding marine life loves the rapid flow with its suspended particulates.  Like the variegated scallop Chlamys varia.  The French call these ‘petoncles’ and they are sweeter than the larger St Jacques if you can gather enough to make a mouthful or two.  We were to see lots of these during the forthcoming week.

We were joined on the shore by a group of French fishers.  They were wielding serious shrimping nets and waded around in the slightly deeper water sweeping, apparently randomly, and filling their keep nets.  The French woman I spoke to said this was their third visit to the site and that they found the best strategy was to sweep below the floating kelp blades, under which the prawns lurk.

While seasoned conchologists splashed around in the shallows working the shore, Sonia took photos of the searchers and of some of the animals we found under rocks.  By her kind permission the slide show below gives a flavour:

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