Seatown Mud Tracks & Trails

The soft smooth almost liquid muds that flow down the cliffs at Seatown after rain, pool and sink into the shingle on the beach. It doesn’t take long to see amazing networks of tracks and trails on the mud surface. These are made by a myriad of small invertebrate seashore creatures like worms, snails, and sandhoppers as they walk across, burrow, and tunnel into it, foraging for food and seeking shelter from exposure. The number of distinct track marks is amazing and I have no idea which mark was made by which animal (that is a whole new project requiring the collection of some mud samples for identification of the occupants of this habitat). Large bird footprints from crows and gulls show that these areas are also good places for them to feed on the creatures in the mud.

Images can be seen in greater detail by clicking on any photograph to view in the gallery, and then clicking “View full size” below the picture.

10 thoughts on “Seatown Mud Tracks & Trails

  1. It would be interesting to discover which creatures made each mark. I suppose you would need to witness them being made. The bird tracks remind me of the dinosaurs footprints that for many years could be seen in the Portland stone? layer just above beach level between Ringstead Dorset and Osmington mills Dorset. Sadly they had gone on my last visit – washed away by the sea. They were the size of dinner plates and offset left right left right so I think we can assume that they walked like a chicken rather than hopped. They were quite deep – about 4 inches and held water after the high tide. This Portland stone? layer extends under the cliff so hopefully some day more will be exposed.
    Regards Robert notacoconut

  2. Hello Robert
    Yes, it would be interesting to find out exactly what was making the mud tracks. It will need a lot of patience I think! The conditions have to be just right too. When I visit again I will take some specimen tubes and be prepared to wait and watch for a considerable time.
    I had no idea there were dinosaur prints on the stretch of shore that you mention. It is a very long time since I was there – it can be a bit difficult getting down to the beach sometimes. Given the rate at which the cliffs along the Jurassic Coast are eroding, it won’t be too long perhaps till more dinosaur prints are exposed.

  3. Dear Jessica, I always enjoy your photographs, but these are amongst the most interesting I’ve seen – congratulations. With best wishes, Hamish

    020-8707-3729 07977-269778

  4. Thank you, Angela. I will have to look up the Joan Miro sand paper works. I actually went to an exhibition of his art at Tate Modern several years ago but cannot recall these but will have the details somewhere.

  5. Thank you, Judith. I found the track patterns fascinating as little abstract works of art and also because the fossil record preserves animal traces just like this (ichnology).

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