Thursday, 19 August 2010

Trip to Saltwick Bay - 16/08/10

Just hours after having been tattooed, I went on a trip to Saltwick Bay near Whitby on the Yorkshire coast. After spending the day there, I have to say that it is one of the best locations I have been to for fossil collecting. You are guaranteed to find something; ammonites and belemnites are ubiquitous, joined by the promise of more tantalising finds such as ichthyosaurs and crocodiles. In addition to this the bay is geologically and ecologically attractive; there is plenty for all to see and do. This week has been a busy one for me, so this will be a quick photographic run through of the trip and the sites to see. I have not yet taken pictures of the numerous fossils I brought back, so those will be saved for the future.

The view on the left is the south of the bay where we spent the second half of the trip. The weather was not brilliant, it was actually quite cold, as I found when I ate my dinner.

This is the view to the north of the bay, which is where we started looking for fossils, finding hundreds all over the place.

If you know where to look on the north side of the bay you will come across some dinosaur tracks on a rock which has fallen from the uppermost layers. This one is likely an ornithopod dinosaur, though with most fossil tracks it is difficult to determine exactly what made it (except in rare circumstances where the animal itself has fossilised too).

Most of the fossils were lying around amongst the fallen and washed up rocks, though occasionally some good finds were impossible to extract. These belemnites look great, but from under this boulder they like to tease.

Many fossils can be found in situ, difficult to extract but great to look at. Examples like these belemnites are found all over the bay.

Around the rocks, especially in the water, can be found plenty of wildlife. I spotted lots of anemones in attached to rocks.

As we headed to the south in the bay, we came across a seal carcass which was rather big and had its head buried. It was not easy to spot, but when downwind of it the stench was obvious. I may blog on this again as I recently got the pictures from when I found a dead porpoise on the beach a few years ago (I have an odd interest in dead things and I don't just mean fossils).

One of the most interesting things to look at on the beach is this wrecked ship. It looks like a mangled carcass of metal waiting to be picked by scavengers.

Throughout the day rocks were falling from the cliffs, so we often stayed clear of them. Fortunately none as big as this one, being modelled by Dean, fell whilst we were there, otherwise I might not be writing this right now.

On the left is a rather nice pyritised ammonite, next to my foot. There were some interesting fossils found that day. A lad called Ben, who I met that day, was finding many crustaceans; there were hundreds of ammonites, belemnites and bivalves found, including an impressive ammonite by John; a couple we came across might have found some sturgeon bone; and the best find came right at the end whilst we were talking to a group about the fossils they could find, when suddenly one of the girls popped up with a fossil she had just found, wondering if it was anything worthwhile. She had a vertebra of an ichthyosaur. Naturally we went scrambling over the rocks where she found it in search of another, but to no avail. If you want beginner's luck, or just any sort of fossil finding luck, head to Saltwick Bay in North Yorkshire, you won't regret it.

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