In this blog I would like to explore the benefits of coastal communities covering sense of place, sights, sounds, smell wellbeing, resilience, and symbiosis by the rockpools.
Along the Wild Atlantic Way, you are treated to some wonderful views, experiences and opportunities to find your own sense of place. Before you decide to go visit these experiences, I thought it would be good idea to ‘prime’ you before you go.
Many people are attracted to the sea for a host of different reasons, let us explore sense of place.
Sense of place refers to the emotive bonds and attachments people develop or experience in particular locations and environments, at scales ranging from the home to the nation. Sense of place is also used to describe the distinctiveness or unique character of particular localities and regions.
The Rock Pools of Salthill is where I have discovered my own sense of place, it is my office where I work, it is where I can escape the urban madness and also where I have an opportunity to discover something that no person in the world has seen!
In this blog I would like to show how the Rockpools can show us the way to wellness.
Sounds, Song of the Sea
Here I am in the Rockpool, It’s a nice day, I can hear the bird and ocean song of the sea. As I walk I can hear the ‘splash splash’ a pleasant sound indeed. It is hard to describe, but I get a nice calming sense as I appreciate where I am.
There is growing evidence to prove the impact of the ocean on wellbeing, here is just a small example;
The power of the ocean to bring mental health benefits to humans is a growing field of research as scientists increasingly understand the value of the marine realm in human health and wellbeing.
Biologist Wallace J Nichols, the author of Blue Mind says "We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what's broken."
Dr Easkey Britton, is a wonderful ocean champion who has done extensive research on ocean well being and I really like this quote
‘For example, consider the imprint water experiences can leave on our body-mind. We experience the world, and comprehend it, through our senses. The sea, especially, is such a multi-sensory experience. It’s visually stimulating with a thousand shades of constantly moving blue. Wave-exposed coastlines release negative ions believed to alter our biochemistry and light up our mood, relieving stress. Smells and sounds of waves all have an effect on our sense of wellbeing. And that’s before we dive into it. This is particularly important when we consider that we increasingly spend our time indoors.’
To learn more about Easkey, see; https://easkeybritton.com/
Smells like Sea
Saltwater by itself doesn’t have any smell, but the things that live in it certainly do. The rather stale, sulphury smell is dimethyl sulphide, produced by bacteria as they digest dead phytoplankton. At low tide, you’ll also smell chemicals called dictyopterenes, which are sex pheromones produced by seaweed eggs to attract the sperm. And on top of all this is the ‘iodine’ smell of the sea, which is actually the bromophenols produced by marine worms and algae.
(bromophenols that have been shown to possess a variety of biological activities, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-thrombotic effects.)
In essence, plankton die, plankton get eaten by bacteria, the bacteria release sulfur into the atmosphere, the sulfur oxidizes and then starts forming very tiny clumps. These clumps then form water droplets and clouds. Essentially ocean smell not only smells good, but it also helps to form clouds.
So, next time you take a fresh breath by the sea, you need to thank the ‘TINY’ plankton for that!
Resilience and AdaptionsEaskey Britton, PhD Easkey Britton, Ph
Here is an example of the sights you can see and opportunities for wellness, resilience, so I think this example is quite cool.
The small air bubbles allow this seaweed to rise once again, as the tide comes in. It has survived for a time with very little support, yet it is still rising with the new day and tide.
Resilience has been used to describe people and systems that bounce back from negative experiences and disturbances. I think this shows that no matter how low we get, it is never permanent! It will pass. Seaweed is the best example of resilience on the shore.
Symbiosis is a term describing any relationship or interaction between two dissimilar organisms. The specific kind of symbiosis depends on whether either or both organisms benefit from the relationship.
I think we can all agree that we benefit from the ocean, food, fresh air, healthy climate…I would say we need to create a better symbiosis with the ocean though…..
There exists many symbiotic relationships within Rock Pools. Symbiotic relationships come under three categories: mutualism, commensalism and parasitism.
Mutualism is a type of symbiosis that occurs when two organisms are in a relationship where they both benefit. For example, honey bees and flowers. The honey bees pollinate the flowers, forming seeds, and the bees collect pollen, which provides them with the nutrients they need.
Commensalism is where one organism benefits and the other remains in a neutral status. An example would be a spider building a web on a tree. The spider benefits as it is building its shelter and nest, but the tree has no benefit nor harm done to it.
Parasitism is where one species benefits and the other is harmed. An example is mistletoe and trees; the mistletoe (which is a parasite) grows on the tree which steals its nutrients and resources, benefiting the mistletoe and disadvantaging the tree.
In Rock Pools, examples of symbiosis include:
-an alpheid shrimp & a goby: the shrimp digs a burrow while the goby protects and occasionally provides food for the shrimp. (mutualism)
-anemone crab and sea anemone: the anemone provides protection and shelter for the crab while it gains nothing in return, however, isn't harmed. (commensalism)
A group of Hermit Crabs is known as a consortium.
-sand crab and parasitic barnacle: the barnacle infects the sand crab, and hormones secreted by the barnacle cause male crabs to become females and unable to reproduce.
In exploring the benefits of the ocean, we briefly touched upon some topics that need to be experienced for yourself. So….in the next blog we will explore preparation and what you need when going rockpooling.
Thanks for reading, Sea you soon.
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This blog is to record the adventures , ocean literacy, discoveries , and showcase the hidden beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way.