Under The Pier celebrated its 5th anniversary this year!
Whether you are just visiting the Isle of Wight or whether you’re here all year round, this is one of the most unusual of late summer events that should be on everyone’s calendar!
Run each year for free and for all by a volunteer team of ecologists and community artists at Isle of Wight environmental organisations Arc and Artecology, Under The Pier is a mad, linear rockpooling adventure set up to celebrate the place, character and undiscovered natural world at Ryde Pier, just yards from one of the Island’s busiest gateways and Ryde’s streets and arcades.
Famous as the event-equivalent of a rain dance, Under The Pier is almost always held in pouring rain. This year however for our 5th birthday, the sun shone and waves of ‘Pier’-poolers, around 500 people brought nets and buckets through the streets of Ryde and down to the sea to explore the marine life with us.
This year’s surprises were common starfish, a hat-trick of Scorpion Spider crabs (thanks to Ryan from Ryde) and a sea urchin. But it was definitely the fish that played a starring role - some wonderful spots were broad-nosed pipefishes, a 2-spot goby, corkwing wrasse, a baby plaice and some sea sticklebacks. Hundreds of people made it to the very end of the Pier too this year to see the sponge gardens, where the Pier’s 200+ year old self comes into its own… strange and other-worldly pillars of multi-coloured globules of many different sponges including the… goosebump sponge!
Fantastic spirit on the day and great feedback from people afterwards made this one of our favourite weekends of the year.
And the scores on the doors? Thanks to iWatchWildlife, our local recorders project and our volunteer experts Ian Boyd, Dr Alice Hall and Dr Roger Herbert, this citizen science extravaganza tallied a huge 87 species! New to the event were the 15-spined sticklebacks Spinachia spinachia and spinachia and Purse sponge Sycon ciliatum.
Tina at iWatchWildlife explained, '315 valuable species records have been generated by the event for the site since 2014, and we've more that doubled the number of species recorded since your first Under The Pier - let's see if we can make it to a Century next year! We'll get these records into the IW Species Database to make a permanent record of all these valuable observations.’