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Loch Creran Notes from the West Highlands. 1881

Loch Creran NotesThe whole country has been looking so gay of late, in the full blaze of the wonderful unlight we are blessed with, that on sea and shore alike we have an embarassment of beauty, as well as of life and growth. Two men were for hours hard at work endeavouring to clear a small portion of sea-bottom from the abundant growth of marine annuals, and found the task too hard for them even in a long spring tide. Such an enormous growth partially explains the teeming life of the littoral in the summer time. Now is the time when the few in our district with leisure, and love of that fish, skate, can enjoy an hours skate-spearing when our flat friends come inshore from the deeper waters, to deposit their strange eggs among the tangle in shallow water. Yesterday one man speared seven in a very short time on a small portion of sea bottom. To day we found the breeze too rough, and the bottom consequently too much obscured to be able to make use of the iron, so we floated rapidly over the tangle fronds, casting unavailing glances into the general breadth of shaded blacks and brpwns. The whole bottom was completely obscured by a most unusually prolific growth even a great stretch, that we had flattered ourselves had been a d bea rren of algz but a month or two ago, showed scarce a yard of bottom. What harm can mussels do to oysters indeed. Just come round this way and we take our incredulous friend to the few hundred molluscs lately thrown from the boat at random on the foreshore. On the gravel, of late, a deposit of young mussels has been rapidly maturing, and upon these the large oysters from deeper water had accidentally been thrown. W e lift one after another to find the b ssuso f the mussel firmly attached, and gradually extending over the shells, which are closed for a time at low water. A very few days and a good few of these strong oysters with powerfully developed muscles would have been most effectually choked by the numerous tenacious cords of the mussel having closed the shell too firmly to permit the spring of the oyster to expand and open it. What would they not have done to a bed of small, delicateshelled oysters in a similar position It is impossible to estimate the injury done in this way to an oyster bed by a shell fish which grows to a certain maturity with great rapidity. There is a large bank of mussels of a certain size at the mouth of the river Awe that are said to die down every autumn when they reach a certain stage so that those about an inch or so in length must be but six months old.. At this age an oyster is a delicate helpless creature, while these mussels are capable of forming a bank of such a mass, and so tied together, that nothing has a chance upon it but themselves. The young barnacles already cover every possible vantage ground in countless thousands shells, wattling, stones-all are alive with the sharpedged mischiefs. t is interesting to note how the various classes of shells intermingle, the young of one class seating themsehes on the backs of another, and the young of the other returning the compliment, all in the most indiscriminate manner. Loch Creran: Notes From The West Highlands.

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