Credits: Loch Carron in Scotland - Paul Naylor/

Out of sight and out of mind - our marine wildlife has been neglected for many years. The UK's seas are home to thousands of creatures and plants but less than 0.0001% is fully protected.

This is an amazing and little known world with corals, seahorses, whales, dolphins and seals plus many species of fish including one of the world’s largest, the basking shark. Hidden beneath the sea’s surface are wildlife habitats as varied and beautiful as those on land, with undersea cliffs, caves, chasms, mountains, dunes and plains. Colourful reefs, meadows of seagrass, rocky undersea landscapes are home to literally thousands of plants and animals, from tiny geometrical diatoms to giant sperm whales. Our marine ecosystems are also our life support system, helping regulate our climate, providing us with food, and releasing oxygen for us to breath.

Take a look at some of the wildlife you can spot below, and click on the names for incredible facts about our amazing wildlife! 

Did you know?

The UK’s seas are home to more than 44,000 different kinds of animals and plants.

Here be giants!

The giants of our oceans are so special - it's incredible to think you can see basking sharks and dolphins in our waters! Read our guest blog by Jenna Govier, focusing on why they're so important. 


Wildlife to look out for:


Grab your binoculars and see what you can spot from the coast! There's gannets, shearwaters, petrels, divers, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, eiders, common scoters, gulls and terns.



You don't have to travel the globe to see amazing marine mammals - we have plenty here! At different times and places throughout the year you can see grey seal, common seal, harbour porpoise, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, killer whale, and humpback whale. Have a look at some of the UK's amazing dolphins and whales here.


Marine plants

The underwater world can be just as vibrant and beautiful as the terrestrial. Put on your snorkel and mask to look for such wonders as green, brown and red seaweeds' including bladder wrack, egg wrack, serrated wrack, channelled wrack, twisted wrack, oarweed, sea belt, dabberlocks, dulse, gut weed and sea lettuce.


A huge diversity of species lies beneath our seas, including sea urchins, mussels, barnacles, oysters, common starfish, sun stars, cushion stars, brittle stars, shrimps, several crab species, sea slugs (nudibranchs), fanworms, sea squirts, anemones and lobsters.



Our seas are teeming with life! You can find herring, mackerel, pipefish, bib, plaice, cod, skate, sea scorpions, tompot blenny, dogfish, basking shark and other sharks, rays, salmon, sea trout and many more species.

If you love having fun, try our marine colouring in sheet! You can learn about our marine environment and make the perfect picture too!


This rockpool ID guide from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is great! See if you can spot the creatures listed on there...


Next time you go to the coast, try out some of our marine activities! Download the sheets by clicking the pictures: