Marine animals

Credits: Grey seal - Arthur Kingdon

From creatures like crabs and limpets that cling to the shore and scurry around rockpools, to the gigantic whales and sharks that swim thousands of miles every year - the UK's seas are home to an amazing array of animals.

At first glance the rocky shore may appear lifeless, but a closer inspection during low tide will reveal hundreds of animals and plants waiting in rockpools for the tide to return.


You are perhaps most likely to spot crabs scurrying for cover, shrimps in rock pools or the many snails, limpets and whelks upon the rocks. However, take a closer look and you may find small fish, such as the tompot blenny, goby, or even a pipefish – often disguised as a piece of seaweed! Did you know that it's male who gets pregnant and raises the young?


Get really lucky and you could come across a tiny starfish known as a cushion star, or maybe you’ll discover a sea slug. These can be camouflaged into the rocks, or brightly coloured – the sea lemon is as you would expect bright yellow!


Further out to sea huge shoals of fish like mackerel and herring swim with the ocean currents moving around the UK. In some places you might see dolphins and porpoises, and every summer basking sharks visit the west coast of the UK – Cornwall, Scotland and the Isle of Man are all good places to spot these massive sharks. Underwater brightly-coloured fish like the cuckoo wrasse dart about and in some places around the UK amazing corals and sea sponges form multi-coloured underwater gardens.


The UK is also home to around half the world's population of grey seals - there are huge colonies in places like the Farne Islands and Lincolnshire. Blubbery and slow on land underwater seals are transformed into sleek swimming machines diving through forests of kelp and travelling huge distances out to sea in search of fish to eat. The harbour seal is also found in the UK. 


You’ll be amazed at how colourful and diverse our sea-life is.

Our National Marine Week article talks all about our wonderful dolphins and whales! What will you spot by the shore?


Did you know?

Not only can a starfish re-grow lost arms, it can also regrow its stomach. A starfish feeds by turning its stomach inside out and pushing it inside the shell of a clam. It breaks the clam’s body down – into a seafood soup – before swallowing its stomach, meal and all!