Oh Wales, you really are ridiculously good looking. Last weekend was my second time ever in Snowdonia, and once again I was waxing lyrical about how beautiful it was. Though on our first day the clouds descended over the valley of our cottage, by day two the sun was out and we went to Harlech’s glorious six mile beach for a spot of beach combing. Being near Pen Llyn a’r Sarnau SAC (Special Area of Conservation, the jewels in the crown of the European network of protected areas), I was expecting to find something a bit more exciting than the usual cockles and razor clams, but Harlech took the biscuit and gave us a bona fide shark. Now, when it comes to marine knowledge, I reached my pinnacle on the obligatory zoology field trip to Millport as an undergraduate; but thankfully my good friend Internet had many an ID guide.
As well as an abundance of (frankly gloriously named) sea potatoes we also found loads of empty shark and ray egg cases. This was the first time I’d found any, and have now discovered that the Shark Trust do a brilliant guide to identify which species they came from. They included cases from two different species of catshark (nursehound and small-spotted) and what I assume were multiple species of rays, with the distinctive horns on their rectangular cases. Sadly I returned them to the sea before realising there was such a good ID guide. Next time egg cases, next time.
Bizarrely we also found a diving beetle who was very far from where I’d expect it to be. How it got there was a complete mystery, but we made sure to turn it the right way up and left it propped up away from the waves. All this while basking in the liquid sunshine of the calls of skylarks, and the throaty croaks of the occasional raven. Take me back, please?
Smallspotted catshark- look at those teeth!