There is one feature that will unite the Jurassic coastal sites we visit during our week in the Scarborough area. There will always be a walk down to the shore and a bit of a puff back to the cars. The first beach we visit is Boggle Hole at the southern end of Robin Hoods Bay, an SSSI known for its fossils.
For us it offers a wide platform with shallow terracing which allows us to range over the shore and down to the kelp zone in search of marine life in general and molluscs in particular. Paula Lightfoot is a whizz at finding nudibranchs. We all tend to acquire a penchant for particular molluscan groups and she has a knack for spotting the tiniest jelly blobs which do their nudibranch thing when you place them in seawater, opening their ‘petals’ like so many bright aquatic flowers. We score at least 8 species of sea slug on this shore and will go on to record them at every site we visit. Although we all take our own pictures, Sonia could be viewed as the official photographer. With her camera ever at the ready she finds old friends and makes new encounters in the marine life at our feet. She snaps conchologists at work, and captures the magnificence of the coast we are working along. She generously shares her photos with me and they provide a wonderful record to look through after one’s time on the shore of the day is over.
With samples in our buckets we haul up the slope as far as the Youth Hostel stopping for a beverage and thence to the lab to sort, stabilise and examine. Here is an opportunity for us to see how painstakingly Ian Smith retrieves minute specimens from the weeds and hydroids he collects, the care he takes in housing his specimens in small tubs and stowing them in the fridge, so that they might make the perilous journey back to Stockport to await their moment of fame before the camera.