Newquay is awesome – everyone knows that right? Well in my opinion most people think Newquay is awesome for the wrong reasons! Fair enough it is stunningly beautiful, our beaches are massive and golden and the water is blue. Our sunsets are perfect and along with the rest of Cornwall’s North Coast we have the most consistent surfing conditions in England. Oh and it’s also pretty good for a night out.
But myself and many others love Newquay for other reasons as well… Newquay is home to some incredible marine life that will surprise many. We are visited by the worlds second largest sharks every summer the basking shark, reaching a massive 30 feet (10 meters or more!!) we regularly spot Cornwall’s resident pod of bottlenosed dolphins off Newquay. Our sandy bays are important nursery areas for long lived and slow growing elasmobranches such as small eyed ray and starry smoothound shark. Porbeagle sharks – smaller relatives of great white sharks are seen off our cliffs and from boats. Grey seals, an internationally rare species, are permanent residents in several locations around Newquay, and our harbour is one of the best places around to watch them (but please don’t feed them! – for more info see Cornwall Seal Group).
The Gannel estuary is teeming with sandeels, sand gobies and mysid shrimp which in turn make its sheltered tidal waters vitally important for juvenile mullet, plaice, flounder and turbot.
Rocky reefs and unexplored shipwrecks scattered around are home to a bewildering array of marine species including rare sea fans and cup corals. the rockpooling at South Fistral is legendary! I could go on for ages….
All in all Newquay is spectacular for marine life and incredibly it is under recorded- we know very little about what is out there.
One of Newquay’s best features though is its its small scale environmentally friendly fishing fleet who fish using arguably the most environmentally sustainable method there is – crab and lobster pots. This method has near zero bycatch and any undersized animals are released without being harmed. Some of the local fishermen are handlining or jigging for mackerel, Pollack, bass and bream, again excellent fish and caught in the most selective and sustainable way. Crab however is the mainstay of Newquay’s fishing fleet and catches have remained stable for generations, testament to the sustainability of the methods used. Every week sadly over 90% of the catch of Newquay’s fishermen gets exported out of the county. People visiting Cornwall and locals alike need to realise how delicious Newquay crab is and should support our local small scale fishing fleet. This is why as well as highlighting the fantastic marine life of our area Newquay marine group would like to support our fishermen and promote Newquay Crab as something we should all be eating!
I worked at Blue Reef Aquarium for 11 years in that time I have been really amazed at how rich our local waters are. The fishermen are constantly finding interesting new species in their crab pots and it is great that they always report these finds to the aquarium, please keep it up! (and tell me too!) . We should all be shouting about Newquay much more than we are at the moment- It is an incredible spot and we have so much to offer. Please get involved in the group and help us to share these underappreciated aspects of Newquay with the masses!