The crumbling coast between Lyme Regis and Charmouth in the English county of Dorset is a famously rich source of early Jurassic fossils. In the Charmouth area, its Blue Lias shales make it notoriously unstable, as demonstrated by a major landslip in December 2000. News reports said the area would be roped off, for people’s safety . . .
The residents of Charmouth say they’ve seen it all before.
“As soon as chunks of cliff break off and slide down on the shore,
Geologists arrive in hordes. It happens every time,
And all the B&Bs are filled from here along to Lyme.
Our coast erodes at rapid rates each time there’s storms and gales,
But weather’s not the only thing that eats away our shales:
Those rock-hounds come and hack away at landslips that aren’t stable.
We put up signs and cordon off as much as we are able,
And warn ’em not to risk their lives; but do they listen? No,
They hurry past us to the beach – so we just let ’em go.
If they get buried, ’tis their fault; it should be no surprise.
‘Tis not our job to dig ’em out – we let ’em fossilise!”
Postscript: They’re more humane if you’re only 10 years old, as this 2011 photograph of coastguards rescuing young Callum Currie shows: