Friday 31 July 2009


Here's an old postcard showing the piers in their prime at the turn of the last century.

Saturday 18 July 2009


From the rockpools at Sandsend. 06/07/2009.

The Beadlet Anemone Actina equina belongs to the phylum Cnidaria, being a relative of the jellyfish and corals. It is well adapted to being left high and dry between tides, and it can tolerate fairly high temperatures and dessication without a problem. Outside the water they look like nothing more than lifeless blobs of jelly clinging to the rocks, but once submerged a beautiful rosette of tentacles gives them their flower like appearance.

Beadlet Anemones are the main food source of the Common Grey Sea-Slug Aeloidia papillosa, whose eggs can be seen here. The sea-slug can transport the undigested stinging cells from the anemone's tentacles into the fleshy outgrowths (cerata) on it's back, where it can use them for it's own self defence.

The Shore Crab Carcinus maenas is the most common British crab. It's the one all the kids haul up on their crabbing lines down by the swing bridge. Here is a view of the face of a rather large and fierce specimen found under a rock at Sandsend. Notice the mobile eyes and the antennules with their tiny pincers used to help pass food to the mouthparts.

The brittlestar Amphipholis squamata is an echinoderm related to the starfish and shares it's five fold symmetry. Unlike the starfish it doesn't glide along on a system of thousands of tiny tube feet. Instead it moves by sinuous movements of it's long slender arms, as illustrated in this rather fuzzy video.

Thursday 16 July 2009


These two stones set on a tumulus on Sneaton moor mark a parish boundary. The boundaries were often marked out along the lines of natural features and ancient man made structures, such as crosses and tumuli.

The stone on the left is inscribed 'SNEATON LIBERTY ASSIZES 1784'. This photo was taken looking in the direction of Pickering.

Looking towards Whitby, the other stone reads 'Goathland Boundary Determined at York Assizes 1818'.

This map shows the parish boundaries as they were before 1832 when the Civil Parishes started coming into being. The approximate site of the stones is marked by a red dot. The large parish that borders Sneaton is Pickering.

Tuesday 14 July 2009


The Six-spot Burnet Moth. Loads of them on the Zig Zags.

Monday 13 July 2009


This depiction of Whitby's west pier was drawn into the sand under the Spa on Sunday July12th by an unknown sand artist. The depiction of the stonework is particularly impressive.

This large and rather perfect sand circle was made on the same day in the same area. It reads 'NATIONAL STREET CHOIR FESTIVAL - WHITBY 2009.' On the right of the circle are the words 'THANX WHITBY.' A podcast of street choir singing from the festival can be found here on The Whitby Independent.

Sunday 12 July 2009


An early 20th century view.

Tuesday 7 July 2009


From the rockpools at Sandsend. 06/07/2009.

This is the scale worm Harmothoe imbricata. Scale worms of the family Polinoidae are Annelids just like earthworms, that is to say they have segmented bodies. H. imbricata has 15 pairs of overlapping scales known as elytra.
On the North East coast they breed during March and April. They come together in pairs; sperm is shed onto the eggs, which are kept under the scales of the female where early development takes place.
Larvae are released into the plankton two weeks later and they will be mature enough to breed the following year. Lifespan is thought to be up to four years.

Another as yet unidentified scale worm. Much smaller than Harmothoe imbracata at 1cm long. The scales do not overlap and they don't cover the entire body. Hopefully someone at the Marine Wildlife of the N. E. Atlantic group will give me a positive ID in due course.

This object was found attached to the underside of a stone quite high up the shore. It has been identified by Richard Lord via Marine Wildlife of the N. E. Atlantic as the egg mass of the sea slug Aeolidia papillosa.

Known as the Common Grey Sea Slug, it feeds on sea anemones and lays eggs at specific times each year. In Guernsey the adults arrive to spawn in March and May and then disappear again. Presumably with Whitby being so much further north, spawning occurs later. I've never seen evidence of sea slugs in this area before.
The above picture shows the egg mass out of the water. The picture below shows the same mass submerged with a 1p piece for size reference.

Wednesday 1 July 2009


This postcard from 1911 shows the aftermath of a fire at Ruswarp Mill. It was started by a bolt of lightning. The mill was built in 1752 for Nathanial Chomley, Lord of the Manor of Whitby, and has now been converted into a block of flats. The mill was water powered, a dam in the river provided the mill race. There had been a mill at Ruswarp since at least the time of the Domesday survey.