A Wet and Bleak June….where has the sun gone.

Rain, rain, go away and come again another day and Royal Fish.
This time last year it was so hot but now the weather seems trapped in a spiral of rain, cloud and drizzle. I have been busy taken numerous groups out and although much of the area is covered in shingle and sand the best place to search for fossils is the beach to the east of Charmouth. There is a large mud slide developing about 1/2 mile to east of Charmouth and the other day a section of the cliff tumbled down onto the beach. The cliffs fall and crumble with-out warning and the area below the cliffs should be treated with respect.
On the beach at Charmouth, a dead dolphin was washed up onto the sand. The dolphin was in a state of decay. The Parish council lifted the remains of the dolphin with mechanical bucket and carefully moved it 200 metres further up the beach. I am not sure why, but it did attract a large crowd to watch this strange event.
A dolphin is designated Royal Fish and the finding of a dead one should be reported to the Crown (via the Coastguard Agency). Royal Fish included whales, dolphins and sturgeon. I think years ago such fish were a valuable commodity for their flesh and oil. To the best of my knowledge the Queen no longer consumes whales or dolphins. The similarity of the dolphin to that of an ichthyosaur is remarkable as both have evolved into this perfect shape as a fast moving marine predator.
A couple of months ago a, film company descended on the area, to make a new movie about Mary Anning. The Oscar winning actress Kate Winslet is cast as Mary Anning. There is not much known about Mary Anning’s personal life but in the film she is cast having a romantic entanglement with another woman. There is no record or historic evidence for this. I think it just a screen writer attaching a story line to a famous person. The story could be ascribed to any number of famous women and is slightly demeaning to the reason as why they are so important…but that’s just my personal opinion

Nigel

April-May Fossil Hunters Diary

May
Due to the upgrade work on my website, (making the site useable on mobile phones and
tablets) it has been a while since I have updated this blog. The weather is strange, a warm
Easter and recently a cold freezing May Day.
Over the last few weeks I have taken numerous groups fossil hunting. The beach is still
covered in a vast amount of shingle which has not shifted for months. I am always amazed
how much the structure and look of the beach changes with every tide. One day I can be
walking across a vast expanse of sand and two days later the tide, wind and sea have swept
away the sand. There is now a pebble and a beach strewn with a ridge of shingle stretching
along the high water mark. The best areas to find fossils along the Jurassic coast vary each
week.
To the west of Charmouth, there is a large snout of mud which for the last ten years has
been a great source of fossils such as belemnites, ammonites and even the occasional piece
of an ichthyosaur. Two years ago, after a southwest storm, the snout of mud was swept
away and a mass of shingle surged from the Lyme Regis side of the beach, completely
covering this area. The fossils are now buried below this mass of shingle and for the
moment nature has closed off this once productive area, until the next storm sweeps away
the covering of pebbles and stone.
To the west of Lyme Regis is Monmouth Beach where you can see the “Ammonite
Graveyard”. A ledge packed with remains of hundreds of ammonites. For many years this
area was fairly stable but in recent years, the winter storms have surged and a section of the
pavement has been destroyed. Further along the beach is a section of old stone workers’
railway track, which has been in situ since 1870 – much of this has now gone.
The moral of the story is: if you see a fossil on the beach save it because it will not last
forever!