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Wildlife on the coast

Rock pools at Boggle Hole by Mike KiplingRock pools at Boggle Hole by Mike Kipling

The shore – the narrow strip between land and sea – is arguably the richest area for wildlife anywhere in the country. Not only is there a huge variety of animal and plant life, but the sheer numbers involved are staggering. For example, one square metre of rock may support over 30,000 barnacles alone!  

Unlike animals living in the deep oceans or on the land, shore animals have to be able to survive in one of the most difficult of habitats. As the tide goes out creatures that normally live under water must survive for anything up to twelve hours, some in the open air, others in the increasingly warmer and saltier rock pools. 

Darting blennies and butterfish share their temporary home with dog whelks, periwinkles, limpets, topshells, mussels and the occasional shore crab or edible crab. 

If not prodded, poked or eaten by seabirds or humans the shore creatures must also survive the tremendous battering of waves when the tide returns up the shore. No wonder that many have evolved special ways of dealing with these complex problems. 

Further out, beyond the waves, huge kelp forests provide a tangled habitat that adds to the prolific biodiversity of the coastline.   

In the deeper waters off the coast in the summer, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of whales and porpoises as they surface for air. Minke, pilot, fin and sei whales have all been spotted from inshore boat trips, and they provide a marvellous spectacle as they crest the waves before returning to the darker depths of the North Sea.  

Common and grey seals can also been seen along our coast as they 'haul out' and sun themselves on the rocky shore.