Beaches and coasts

Credits: Seashells on a Norfolk beach - Philip Precey

In the UK no one lives more than 80 miles (130 km) from the seashore. Wildlife habitats around our coast include: cliffs, rocky shores, sandy beaches and dunes, muddy estuaries, as well as bustling seaside towns and cities. Beaches and coastal habitats are fantastic places for wildlife watching.

Along our beaches, debris swept in by the tides are deposited along the high tide line. These strandlines are great for beachcombing; a treasure trove of washed up seaweeds, shells and driftwood – anything can turn up! Sadly along most beaches there will also be plastic bottles, polystyrene, nylon rope and other human rubbish which pollutes our seas. On rocky shores, as the tide falls, a wonderful world of rockpools is revealed giving a glimpse into the usually hidden world of marine wildlife. Along parts of the coast seals, dolphins and even whales can sometimes be seen.


Did you know?

Britain has some of the most important sea bird colonies in the world – 80% of the world’s gannets breed around the British coast.

Wildlife to look out for:


In various places around the UK you can spot herring gulls, common terns and oystercatchers, see gannets diving for fish, watch young puffins grow, tell the difference between guillemots and razorbills, and listen to fulmars and kittiwakes.

On muddy and sandy shores wading birds gather to feast - keep a look out for dunlins, sanderlings, redshanks, curlews and godwits.



Grey seals breed along our coastline, offering the perfect opportunity to see young seals frockling! From the coastline you can also look out for common seals, beautiful harbour porpoise and otters.




You might not realise it, but coastal habitats have their own plant life! You can see marine algae including wracks and sea lettuce, sea-lavender, glasswort, sea holly, sea aster, sea bindweed, yellow horned-poppy, marram grass and cord grass.




If you've ever given rock-pooling a try, you might have seen some of these fascinating creatures! You can find barnacles, mussels, shore crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps, prawns, starfish, sand hoppers, common whelk, dog whelk and razor shells. There's a lot more to these than meets the eye!


Oh I do like to be beside the sea-side! Everybody loves a good trip to the coast and there's so much fun to be had. Click on the thumbnails to download the activity sheets!


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