St Piran’s Crab discovered in Newquay for the first time

St Piran’s Crab discovered in Newquay for the first time

St Piran's Crab found in Newquay for the first time, Image by Josh Symes/Shoresearch Cornwall

A distinctive species of hermit crab, which has never previously been recorded in Newquay, has been found living near one of the town’s most popular beaches by Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Shoresearch team.

The tiny crab, measuring only a few millimetres in length, was spotted near Towan Headland on Cornwall’s north coast on a survey by the Trust’s marine experts. This is the first time the species has been found locally, with the nearest-known population found further north near Padstow.

This sighting of a St Piran’s Crab in Newquay follows the species’ rediscovery in Cornwall in March 2016. Adrian Rowlands, a volunteer taking part in one of Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s public Shoresearch surveys in Falmouth, found the brightly-coloured crab after a 30-year absence in the county.

Once common on Cornwall’s south coast, the St Piran’s Crab virtually disappeared after the Torrey Canyon Spill of 1967. After it’s rediscovery, local BBC Springwatch presenter Gillian Burke was invited by the Trust to see the reg-legged creature. Following a hugely popular national vote on the TV show, it was aptly named the ‘St Piran’s Crab’ after Cornwall’s Patron Saint.

The Trust’s recent sighting in Newquay was made whilst testing out a new recording app ahead of Shoresearch Week 2021. Now in its 10th year, the annual citizen science event involves volunteers recording marine life and habitats at all five of Cornwall’s Voluntary Marine Conservation Areas (VMCAs), with an aim to monitor change on the shore.

To find out more about Shoresearch Cornwall and the Trust’s Shoresearch Week events at Fowey, Looe, Polzeath, St Agnes and the Helford this October, click on the button below

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