Back From The Brink – Little Whirlpool Snail

Date: October 2019

Location: Pulbourough Brooks Nature Reserve, Sussex

Funded By: Back from the Brink, Heritage Fund and People Postcode's Lottery

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Our second Back from the Brink event was led by artists Andy Evans and Gemma Gottelier who braved wild weather at Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve in Sussex to explore the endangered Little Whirlpool Ramshorn Snail and the ditches and environments it thrives in. This beautiful, tiny snail can fit onto the pad of one of your fingers with room to spare!

The activities informed visitors about the life of the beautiful and endangered Little Whirlpool Snail and the vital work the reserve are doing to create habitats for it.  Participants had the opportunity to see the aquatic snails up close and in detail through supervised pond-dipping activities alongside making mini clay snails, matchbox habitats and painting the surrounding landscape using foraged natural pigments to create their artworks.  Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve is one of the last locations where the little snail can still be found. Find out more in the BFTB Art of Saving Species online gallery.

This aquatic snail is rarely more than 5mm in diameter, but it’s one of the rarest, most restricted and most vulnerable freshwater molluscs in Britain.

It has very particular requirements; it needs unpolluted, chalky waters such as marshland ditches, with just the right vegetation. Once found in about 15 sites in south-east England, it’s now largely restricted to just three.

Loss of suitable wetlands is part of the problem, but also inappropriate management of remaining wetlands and poor water quality. They don’t like cloudy or polluted water. It’s possible that the presence of carp at some sites is a problem, as these fish tend to stir up sediment. This Back from the Brink project is led by the RSPB. The Arun Valley in West Sussex is one of the few strongholds for this little snail and the RSPB are managing ditches to provide good habitat, and creating more. The project will be monitoring how this snail progresses and may also try reintroducing some into parts of its former range at RSPB Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve.

Outdoor Studios worked on the fantastic Back from the Brink, project as the South East Area Community Artist Group, delivering four site specific events in the South East.

Back from the Brink is a collective of many conservation organisations who have joined forces to tackle species extinction and save our rarest and most threatened wildlife including Grey Long-eared Bats, Pine Martens, Willow Tits and Field Crickets. The scope of the project is fantastic – to save 20 species from extinction and to benefit over 200 more animals, plants and fungi – thanks to players of the National Lottery. Led by Natural England, the project involves Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife and the RSPB.