Apr 17

One of the great things about living in the UK is that as an island nation we are never too far away from the coast! What is even better is that we fortunate enough to have a huge coastline which is as diverse as the species that inhabit it. Though less popular with tourists compared to a sandy beaches, rocky shores are rich in biodiversity and just as accessible. Rocky coasts are dynamic environments, always changing according to the weather and the tide.


A snapshot of the large range of species of the rocky shore

One wave changes everything – species have to be able to adapt

The species that live there have to be able to cope with these ever changing conditions and vary dramatically with depending on what past of the rocky coast they are found in. In the permanently submerged areas (called the sublittoral zone) several species of fish and seaweeds can be found if you’re brave enough to go for a snorkel… you may even be lucky enough to see something a bit bigger.

A common octopus – not actually a common site in Britain

The common lobster can be found in shallows of rocky shores

If the sea is a bit too cold for you the UK’s rocky coasts have an abundance of rock pools to explore. What you will actually find in these pools depends on how close to the sea they are. Pools that are further away and more isolated from the sea are generally a harsher place for species to live. That said you’ll always find something – there are usually several anemones and smaller crustacens in most rock pools.

Rock pools provide habitats for numerous species

A common sight in many rock pools across the UK – the aptly named common prawn

Walking on the cliff tops in many parts of the UK will quickly introduce you to some breathtaking scenery, if you are lucky you may see a dolphin or a whale that has come in. Some of the UK’s best bird watching can be found on the cliffs high up above the sea puffins, gannets, petrels and a host of other birds attract budding ornithologists from across the world.

Sea cliff provide a habitat for numerous bird species

Britain’s most distinctive sea bird? Often seen on rocky cliffs in breeding season

To find out more about the rocky shore head over to our new rocky shore habitat page.

George Bradford, ARKive Media Researcher