Tuesday, 9 October 2007

The Southern Shore of Poole harbour

This shoreline on the Southern shore of Poole Harbour is a very fruitful site for Foraminifera. Anchor mud as well as shore gatherings are equally rich in the summer months at least. The Photo is taken looking northwards from along the Redland Peninsula. The area is characterised by a graveyard of old hulks as pictured below

Foraminifera being scraped up with mud from the intertidal pools.

The mud will of course need to be passed through a 400 micron sieve to eliminate weed and then collected in a 100 micron sive for washing in clean water, before drying, cooling and the floatation process.

Monday, 8 October 2007


Digital image by Sue Fox of Kennedy School Warren Michigan U.S.A.


• Foraminifera are Biological indicators: The assemblage of species can indicate the effects and changes of temperature & salinity.
• There are millions of Foraminifera in the seas of the world, where they are deposited from inshore species and deeper sea deposits during rough weather.
• Although sometimes numerous, the deposition zones are usually restricted to the edge of the bays nearest the incoming tidal flow. i.e. The West end in South England ;The Northern end in the North East.
• Chalk cliffs and other exposures contain fossil Foraminifera.
• They are almost as primitive as the better known Amoeba, but grow a chalky shell called a test. Some species create an outer shell (Arenaceous) cemented from marine particles like fine sand or silt or biological remains like other Forams or sponge spicules.
• They live in sea water on the bottom, on weeds, rocks or mud. Others float in the open Sea as plankton.
• They can also be found rarely in brackish ponds over salt deposits as on the Austro-Hungarian border.
• They are very small being rarely more than 0.5mm in diameter, but some warm water species can grow up to an inch (Nummulites).

The study of Foraminifera could be an ideal component of the School Curriculum. It lends itself easily to cross-curricular development in the widest possible sense. The subject certainly impacts on Biology, Art, Mathematics, Geography and Geology. The Foraminifera are regarded as climate indicators, and faunal change may be significant in the future. Although Foraminifera figure in remote parts of higher education, limited US schools are beginning to take an interest in the subject.The Pioneer school is Kennedy Elementary (van Dyke Schools) Warren Michigan USA.

Art The empty tests or "shells" have considerable aesthetic appeal and are very diverse in shape, describing spirals from simple to compound as well a.s many other morphological developments. The natural colours and textures of the test vary considerably.
Mathematics. The treatment of statistically based biological counts of species in samples.Foraminifera shapes and forms provide interesting comparisons for geometric analysis and subsequent graphical representation.
Geography. The study of world wide distribution can lead to climate linked data. The components of a collection can indicate common climatic factors like temperatures and salinity.
Biology. Material from shore or deep water gatherings does not require to be killed or fixed, nor would their collection affect the environment in any significant manner. Investigation would be quite suitable for low magnification, low cost microscopes. The anatomy and physiology of foraminifera is quite varied and can be tackled in a simplistic or an in depth manner. The study of fossil tests is an essential part of more advanced Geology but also lends itself to the simplistic approach. Many teachers are unaware or their significance or even their existence.
Brian Darnton United Kingdom