Size: 297mm x 210mm
Original Painting Medium: Pen and Ink
This underwater scene was portrayed using pen and ink and was designed to incorporate the many species found in a rock pool during the summer. Included in the painting are limpets, mussels, acorn barnacles, a snakelocks anemone and bladderwrack seaweed. Rock pools are a never ending source of pleasure for me. I love to investigate and explore them. If a rock pool is disturbed, the anemones will contract and the tiny fish, crabs and prawns will take refuge under seaweed or in crevices in the rock. If left undisturbed, they will soon re-emerge.
When illustrating wildlife I endeavour to be as accurate as possible. In order to give a little insight into the lives of each creature and plant portrayed in my Rockpool artwork, I have included information below regarding each of the subjects portrayed; how and where they feed or the type of habitat that is preferred.
Sadly due to a number of factors including marine pollution, climate change, over fishing and the loss of habitat, many creatures living in our coastal waters are in decline. Our coastline and the surrounding seas are an important food source for many species. Mammals such as dolphins, seals and otters and many species of wading birds rely on the invertebrates and molluscs to be found along our shore lines and in our estuaries. Over the past 15 years sand eel shortages have been a major factor in the population decline of Actic skuas, Kittiwakes, and European shags. Since the mid 1980's there has been a decline in numbers of three tern species breeding in Britain and Ireland. Puffins and Guillemots are also very vulnerable to adverse changes in the environment. It is vital that we look after our oceans and coastal waters.
My original painting of a Rockpool is available from my Gallery Shop plus Rockpool Fine Art Prints and Greeting Cards.
The prawn, Palaemon serratus, is normally difficult to see because of its almost transparent body marked with purplish dots and lines. It is excellent at camouflage and is able to change the colours of the markings on its body to match the background. It favours pools at the edge of the sea, (particularly amongst seaweed). When feeding it walks delicately using the last three pairs of legs. The first pair have pincers for picking up food. The long antennae are one and half times the length of the body and the eyes, on moveable stalks, can sense food and danger from any direction. When attacked a prawn can escape rapidly, propelling itself by bending and flexing its abdomen. In summer, after mating, the females lay up to 2,500 eggs and after hatching, the larvae float amongst the plankton until they develop into adults.
Anemone species can be differentiated by colour, shape and the number of tentacles. The features are seen best when the animal is covered by water. The snakelocks anemone, Anemonia viridis, has wavy tentacles that contract when out of water or when touched. The species likes well lit rock pools with seaweed and lives on the south-west and western coasts of the British Isles.
Limpets, Patella vulgata, move snail-like on a muscular foot. When grazing, they extend the head and raise their shell to reveal a fringe of transparent tentacles. After feeding, they return to the same spot each time and clamp themselves down tightly, eventually eroding a chacteristic circular depression in the rock. Limpets feed when the tide is in, or at night when the shore is cool and damp. Most limpets start life as males and change later into females.
Wracks are brown, leathery, slippery seaweeds found at different levels, according to species, on rocky shores. Bladder wrack, Fucus vesiculosus, is found on the middle shore. The fronds of this wrack have a distinct midrib, with pairs of air bladders on either side that lift the fronds up towards the light. Bladder wrack can grow 6-40 in. (15-100cm) long.
Barnacles are crustaceans, (the group that include crabs and prawns); that have taken up a sedentary existence. Covering large areas of rock, acorn barnacles, Semibalanus balanoides, appear lifeless until the tide is in. They then extend feathery legs through the opening in the top of the shell to catch suspended food particles. The low, greyish-white cone consists of six plates, with one end-plate much wider than the others. They can grow up to 15mm across.
The mussel, Mytilus edulis, has a dark blue or brownish shell, pointed at one end, and is a familiar sight on rocky, wave-swept shores. Widespread and growing up to 4in. (10cm) long, they grow singly or in clumps. They secure themselves tightly to the rocks with threads extended from the flat side of the shell. Mussels can reabsorb these threads and move around until they find an ideal place to settle. When submerged a mussel feeds by drawing water in through a frilly siphon and ejecting it through a plain one. Spawning occurs in early spring and the larvae float in the plankton before settling down to colonise new areas. In addition to man, who has eaten mussels since early times, predators include oystercatchers, starfish and dog whelks.