Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wear Blue, Tell Two on June 8th

Wear Blue Tell TwoJune 8th is World Ocean Day. This is a day to reflect on all that is marine and be thankful for all that the ocean offers. It's also an opportunity to look like a smurf or just wear a stylish HRH Kate Middleton-esque blue frock...whatever rocks your boat on World Ocean Day.

The key to the "wear blue, tell two" is to spread the word that is "ocean". There are so many things that we owe to the sea and so many reasons why we have to protect it. As well as being the source of all life - it's enchanting, it's a source of minerals & our climate and much of our global protein. I am pretty obsessed with the sea - it provides me with everything I need in life and more. It may seem like another world but you are in contact with the seas and oceans with every life giving breath you take.

Here's a few facts for you:
  1. Over 70% of global atmospheric oxygen is produced by plankton - the phytoplankton.
  2. Plankton is the primary source of life in our oceans.
  3. Plankton created the White Cliffs of Dover.
  4. As plankton decomposes over time and pressure it creates oil (to it's own demise)
  5. The ocean absorbs Carbon dioxide as well as produces Oxygen
  6. If we lose saltmarshes, seagrass beds we reduce the potential for absorption of CO2
  7. c. 71% of the Earth's surface is ocean
  8. The deepest part of the ocean is the Mariana Trench at c. 11km deep
  9. The Gulf Stream flows 300x faster than the Amazon
  10. c.90% of oceanic life occurs in the first 10m - the photic zone (where sunlight can penetrate easily)
  11. The Blue Whale is larger than any known dinosaur with a heart the size of a car
  12. Fish is the main source of global protein - the only source for many island communities
  13. c. 80% of people live within 60km of the coast
  14. Plastic kills! There are few species exempt from the impact of plastic - up to 1 million sea birds & 100,000 sea mammals.
  15. Barnacles have the largest penis relative to body size in the Animal Kingdom
  16. Once the barnacle has made use of his penis - it falls off.
  17. Crabs moult their shells
  18. Sharks and rays lay eggs called "mermaid's purses" - some are spiral shaped - ouch!! (Horned Shark)
  19. Dog whelks drill holes in to mussels to eat their flesh..
  20. Starfish can lose their arms and regenerate them!
That will do for now as a sample - I've left a variety to choose from - friendly for young, old or twisted. Or look up your own - find some great facts and leave them in the comments. If you wear blue & tell two - take a photo & tweet me! I'd love to see & hear your fishy tales! Spread the word...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The mystery of the Sailor's Whistle...

Some of you may remember that I spoke about the "Sailor's Whistle" on the Autumnwatch film I presented in in 2010. The "whistle" is made from the bladder of a wrack - egg wrack ideally as they are larger - the bladder wrack produces a totally serviceable whistle but more of a fiddle...

First of all a little marine biology - why do seaweeds have bladders? Well, seaweeds need sunlight to photosynthesise. When the tide is in and the intertidal rocky area turns into a marine forest of swaying seaweed "branches", some seaweeds have evolved to maximise the potential sunlight harvested by making sure it is held high up in the water with these little "bubbles". The gas filled bladders act as a floatation device like a child's armbands!

But, in true human fashion, we found good purpose of these bladders - to make whistles. I had heard that Egg Wrack also had the name, "Sailor's Whistle". So, I diligently collected bladders and tried a variety of holes in a variety of patterns and no avail. But a lovely lady responded with an email to tell me her Grandfather used to make them!

So the answer is incredibly simple - make one hole in the bladder and blow across it like a flute & voila we have a "Sailor's Whistle". Perhaps there are other versions of "whistle" but I like the simplicity of this version! When I run rockpool sessions & find detached weed, I can now nibble a little hole and produce a little "tweet"...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Seashore Supper

There is nothing like a meal caught / gathered, prepared and eaten within a 1km radius...simply divine. The added bonus of being able to do this with my daughter is simply perfect. The privilege of showing my daughter what can be eaten straight from the shore and see her hungrily wolf down the curly meat of a periwinkle dipped in garlic butter - is so satisfying. It feels so right to be able to show her what amazing resource we have on our doorstep and therefore why it's so important - without saying a word!

So to start we had periwinkles cooked in a bouillon and then dipped in garlic butter with crispy seaweed - actually seaweed unlike the cabbage you get from your Chinese take away.

We then had a spaghetti marinara with mussels and cockles we'd gathered and some oysters topped with Parmesan and breadcrumbs - simply delicious. The mussels and cockles were collected yesterday so still within months with an R! With every bite you are reminded of the beautiful day out with the family - the energetic walk, the sunshine, the connection with nature and the absolute gratitude of what you can find locally makes it such a very special meal.

I would have had elderflower panacotta if it had turned out better - set from the alginates from boiled seaweed - alas I was impatient and didn't boil it for long enough. As any of you follow me on Twitter will testify - it looked like gelatinous, putrefied baby sick - tasted ok... I'm going back to a simpler recipe - jelly - no milk involved - less to go wrong!