Common seals (Phoca vitulina) resting on shoreline rocks, Yell, Shetland Islands, Scotland.

Should you’re fortunate you might see widespread seals (Phoca vitulina) nevertheless it’s form to maintain your distance

James Warwick/Getty Pictures

Seashores aren’t simply widespread with people – the rocks, dunes, cliffs and seas of coastal environments are very important habitats for a few of our most treasured organisms. It may be simple to overlook out on this amid all of the swimming, sunbathing and ice cream, so right here’s an inventory of the wildlife to search for on the coast – and what you are able to do to take pleasure in your self with out harming it. This text is an tailored extract from July’s Wild Wild Life e-newsletter – to obtain New Scientist‘s free wildlife newsleter in your inbox each month, join right here.

Marine mammals

There’s nothing fairly like seeing seals, whales, porpoises or dolphins within the wild. Typically one of the best ways to understand them is to take a ship journey, however boats can run the danger of stressing out these animals and interfering with their regular behaviour. You’ll be able to keep away from this by checking the credentials of any boat journey supplier – ask them what they do to minimise disturbance, whether or not they work with any conservation societies or in the event that they take part in one thing just like the WiSe Scheme. As a tough rule of thumb, operators that run small-to-medium boats and place an emphasis on science and conservation are typically higher. Outfits which have many outings a day, or very large boats, could also be extra more likely to be disturbing animals.

Outdoors of boat journeys, if you happen to encounter marine animals within the water (for instance whereas kayaking or paddle boarding) or on the seashore (within the case of seals), it’s a good suggestion to maintain a distance of round 200 metres, in order to not startle them.

Rock pooling/Tide pooling

Exploring swimming pools of water for marine life is a pleasure of childhood and has surprises in retailer for adults, too. Nonetheless, it undoubtedly additionally disturbs the animals. On steadiness, if you happen to preserve just a few guidelines in thoughts, the advantages of studying about these habitats can outweigh the harms of briefly interfering with them.

While you strategy a rock pool, do it quietly and place your self so that you just don’t forged a shadow, which might scare animals away. Earlier than sticking your palms in, take a second to see what you possibly can observe – seaweed, anemones, shrimp, maybe a crab. You’ll see extra if you happen to flip over a rock to see what’s beneath, however be certain to place it again the place it was, and the earlier you are able to do this the higher.

Should you’d like a better take a look at something, you possibly can scoop it up in a bucket or different container with some seawater, for a brief period of time. Observe it – depend its legs, word its color, see the way it strikes – after which put it again. Don’t catch multiple animal in a bucket at a time – some animals will eat the others.

Take care when touching comfortable organisms, as these are delicate and you might simply injure them. Don’t stick your ft in a pool or take away any seaweed, as this may disturb the ecosystem.

For extra on the thrill of rock pooling, which is called tide pooling the US, learn Joshua Howgego’s account of taking to the seashore with marine biologist and creator Helen Scales.

Chicken watching

The UK is globally important as each feeding and breeding grounds for seabirds and waders. Whereas many species overwinter right here, a range come to the UK’s shores in spring and summer time to breed or to gas up as they fly south from Scandinavia and the Arctic. Many species begin departing from late July and all through August, nevertheless, so early summer time is best to identify them.

To see birds like lapwings, oystercatchers, avocets, little ringed plovers and inexperienced sandpipers, hunt down a devoted nature reserve with loads of wetland habitat – saltmarsh, mudbanks and river estuaries are all supreme wader territory.

For breeding seabirds like puffins, guillemots, razorbills and gannets, you’ll want to discover an space of cliff that hosts seabird breeding colonies. Many of those are on islands, so a ship journey is usually your greatest guess, particularly if it would allow you to watch these fantastic birds at a respectful distance.

Should you take pleasure in coastal walks along with your canine, please look out for native indicators and restricted areas, and heed any requests to place your canine on a lead. Many coastal birds nest on the bottom and canine can have a devastating impact on their efforts to lift their younger.

2022 is popping out to be a tragic yr for seabirds. A lethal pressure of chook flu, which originated in farmed poultry, is circulating amongst wild birds and killing them in giant numbers, notably within the UK, Netherlands, Israel and India. Should you see a sick or useless chook, don’t contact it. Should you come throughout round three useless birds (the precise quantity is determined by the type of chook) within the UK, report them to the federal government helpline: 03459 33 55 77. Reporting them will result in them being eliminated, which may also help stop carcasses spreading the virus to but extra birds.


From sand dunes to chalk cliffs, there is no such thing as a single coastal ecosystem. Every habitat has its personal mixture of plant species, and their flowers make a stroll notably memorable.

There are a lot of uncommon specimens to look out, nevertheless it’s not unusual to listen to of individuals trampling crops of their effort to search out one which’s in flower and seize the proper photograph. To keep away from this, please follow paths as a lot as you possibly can, don’t cross fences or different protecting limitations, and recognise that coastal ecosystems will be very fragile.

Earlier than you go…

Binoculars will assist you to observe wildlife from a distance and a discipline information or two will assist you to establish what you discover.

Tides change rapidly, rip currents aren’t apparent and cliffs crumble. Lookup security pointers earlier than you go in search of wildlife and take note of signage. Inform somebody when and the place you’re moving into case you get into bother and don’t have cellphone sign. Take weather-appropriate clothes, solar cream and water, and minimise your publicity to the solar in the midst of the day (11am to 3pm within the British summer time). And on days of utmost warmth, simply keep residence.

Discarded plastic is now a standard sight on seashores and household days out can contain an excessive amount of single-use plastic. Take into account bringing your personal lunch and refreshments in reusable containers. Save and reuse buckets, spades and different seashore toys, together with bodyboards – a budget ones can break simply and 1000’s are discarded yearly.

Should you eat seafood, it’s price wanting up which species are sustainable decisions within the space you’ll be visiting and in search of sustainable seafood certifications in eating places and cafes.


Lastly – resist taking a memento. It’s unlawful to take pebbles from seashores within the UK and eradicating shells could contribute to degrading the native ecosystem. It’s a cliche, however a photograph actually is one of the best ways to recollect your journey.

Extra on these matters:

By 24H

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