Trip to Dale Fort 2023

After a 5-hour journey with a quick pit-stop at Cardiff West Services, we arrived at Dale village. We made our way to Dale Fort on foot, accompanied by scenic views of the ocean.

On arrival, we were greeted by the amazing staff and briefed on safety, the role of Dale Fort as a Field Studies Centre, and a timetable for the next few days. We were then given a short break to settle in our dorms and collect any waterproofs we may need. We then made our way down to Castle beach, where we had the opportunity to explore the different organisms that inhabit these shores. There was particular excitement over a jellyfish that was found!

We were then taught about different species that could be found on the shore, including seaweeds and snails. We then began collecting data for our first investigation, which involved measuring the diameters of limpets at different heights on the shore. This allowed us to conduct a Spearman’s Rank statistical test back in the classroom.


In the evening, we had downtime, which we used to explore Dale Fort and head to The Point, which was a beautiful place where you could have a whole view of the sea!

Day 2 

On the Jetty beach, we carried out a ‘continuous transect’ where we used a 1mx1m quadrat and counted all the number of living beings in each quadrat that we could identify. We used an identification key and noted down whether each species that we saw was abundant, super-abundant, frequent, rare or common. We saw so many different types of seaweed and sea snails such as dog whelks and rough periwinkles.



We spoke about different sampling strategies such as systematic sampling, stratified sampling and simple random sampling.

Day 3 

This was a very exciting day for us as we got to complete the field work for our individual projects that we had been researching and planning for before the trip.

My project was discovering whether the base diameter to height ratio of limpets changed depending on whether they lived in a rock pool or on the bare rocks. I was surprised to find out so much interesting information about limpets such as they always go back to the same point on their rock, they produce a chemical like superglue to stay on the rocks, and they have the strongest biological material ever discovered in their radula which scrapes their food off of the rocks. To think that most people just think of them as simple shells! I was even lucky enough to see a limpet eating some seaweed out of the cover of its shell which was something I would never have expected to see.


As you can probably tell, this was an inspiring and engaging opportunity to learn about an organism in depth and then apply that knowledge in the field, and it was great that we could reach our own conclusions rather than having the same answer as everyone else. It also gave us a broader understanding of rocky shore ecology as we could learn from each other and benefit from their research too. Writing up our projects was also a challenge and there were a lot of details to think about but this also proved to be valuable and gave us better data analysis skills, confidence and independence which we wouldn’t have gained from sampling the front lawn at school. We had the opportunity to work at either of the beaches, and luckily we didn’t get rained on!


In the evening, we had a little awards ceremony to give thank you cards we made to the staff at the centre. The teachers also gave students prizes, some serious, some silly, and it was a great team moment which we all enjoyed. We wrapped up the evening with all the photos our teachers had taken on the trip, and then we left to start packing for our journey home the next day. I think everyone would agree that we were sad to be leaving.

Day 4 

On the final day at Dale Fort, we were taught about the capture-mark-recapture sampling method, and after a demonstration on how to identify and collect the sandhoppers, we got started on capturing these leaping organisms! The next part of the process was to mark the sandhoppers with pink paint and then release them. After a few minutes, we then recaptured another sample of sandhoppers so that we could use this data to estimate the population size using the Lincoln Index.


By Aanya, Bhavya and Katie