Jul 28

This week marks National Marine Week here in the UK where Wildlife Trusts up and down the country are putting on a whole host of marine related events to encourage people to get out and about and explore our stunning coasts. From rock pool exploration to searching the sands, get in touch with your local Wildlife trust to find out more about what’s going on and how you can get involved.

Why not start your marine adventures by dipping your toe into ARKive and exploring our many thousands of fascinating sea animals and plants.

On the sand

A sandy beach can often resemble a desert but if you look carefully, you can often find the sand packed with lugworms. These worms can grow up to an impressive 20 centimetres long and can be located by looking for casts of defecated sand material above their burrows. Lugworms also provide an important food source for many different species of seabirds.

Lugworm casts

Casts of deposited sand material are a sure indicator for the presence of lugworms

 

Lugworm photo

A lugworm outside its sandy burrow

Into the sea

Though we may complain that the sea is usually to cold to swim in, Britain’s temperate waters are frequented by over 23 different species of dolphins and whales including the bottlenose dolphins.  If you are going anywhere by boat this summer you may well see theses energetic dolphins jumping out of the sea and even riding the swell at the front of the boat.

Bottlenose dolphin pod

Pods of bottlenose dolphins are often not at all shy of boats

Britain’s cooler waters are also visited by fascinating species of fish such as basking sharks, theses humongous fish can reach weight of over 3 tonnes, all on a diet of plankton!

Basking shark photo
The basking shark requires its large mouth to passively feed on plankton

On the cliffs

A vast amount of the British coastline is cliff , which provides vital nesting sites for a huge variety of sea birds. The most distinct and recognisable of all of these is probably the puffin.  Breeding colonies are located around the UK and the birds are present from April to mid August. Visitors to these locations are usually well rewarded with sights of puffins returning to their cliff top nest burrows with beaks stuffed full of sand eels.

Puffins

Puffins perched on the cliff edge

 

Photo of a puffin with sand eels in beak

A puffin with a successful catch of sand eels

Exploring the rock pools

Britain’s rocky shores are loaded with rock pools just waiting to be discovered. Though they may look like mini underwater paradises, rock pools are often harsh environments and are prone to high temperatures and variation in salinity. Some of the animals you can hope to see in rock pools around the UK include limpets, sea anemones, various seaweeds and a variety of crustaceans such as the common prawn and common shore crab.

Common prawn

Common prawns can often be found in rock pools...

 

Common shore crab

...as are common shore crabs

Remember to check the tides as the most interesting pools will only be exposed at low tide and of course don’t forget your bucket and net!

George Bradford, ARKive Media Researcher

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