The Living Coast: Vegetated Shingle, The Strandline, Rockpools and The Great Blue Beyond….

Vegetated Coastal Shingle

Another internationally rare and important habitat found in Brighton and Hove is Vegetated Coastal Shingle. Like our Chalk Grassland, it is home to many specialist plants and invertebrates, adapted to the extreme conditions found on shingle beaches, such as Yellow Horned Poppy (right), Sea Kale and Sea Beet, and the Whelk Jumping Spider. Vegetated Coastal Shingle is a key nesting habitat for Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Little Tern.

BHWF is working with BHCC, Kew and The Living Coast Biosphere partners, including Sussex Wildlife Trust on a Vegetated Coastal Shingle restoration project at Black Rock on the eastern Brighton seafront.

The Strandline and Rockpools

On the ever-changing strandline the sea deposits all sorts of interesting natural things on our beaches, from Mermaid’s Purses (ray, skate and shark egg cases) and crab carapaces to Cuttlefish eggs and Oyster shells. This bounty attracts scavenging invertebrates and their predators, jumping spiders, Rock Pipits, Pied Wagtails and bats.

Rock Pipit (c. Ryan Greaves)

As the South Downs collapse into the sea they form rockpools which are part of the globally rare habitat that is our Chalk Reef, home to a kaleidoscopic array of Anemones, Crabs, Jellyfish, Seaweed, Sea Slugs, Sea Stars and Chitons. Join Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Shoresearch surveys to learn more about all the amazing creatures found in our rockpools.

Learn all about our rockpools and rockpooling with Sussex Wildlife Trust

The Chalk Reef and great blue beyond….

Our Chalk Reef extends way out beyond the rockpools of the intertidal zone. In the seas off Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area you will find schools of Sea Bass, Mackerel and Black Bream, Short-snouted Seahorses, Thornback Rays, Bottlenose Dolphins and Grey and Harbour Seals. Sussex Underwater Facebook group regularly updates on the amazing wildlife local divers are finding off the coast of the county.

Due to the richness and rarity of the Chalk Reef, the sea off Brighton and Hove east of Brighton Marina is a designated Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) which extends all the way to Newhaven (see here).

To the west of Brighton and Hove the once vast and rich kelp beds that stretched from Selsey to Shoreham-By- Sea are finally being restored after many decades of destruction by bottom trawling fishing practices. The Sussex Kelp Restoration Project is a partnership of organisations and stakeholders coordinating the effort.

“BHWF looks forward to a future where nature and our community live together to our mutual benefit, enabling our city to play its part in addressing the nature and climate crises.”

Last updated 25 February 2021