Starting on 24th July and running for fifteen days, National Marine Week is a UK-wide celebration of all things marine. In Devon, the Devon Wildlife Trust are running a host of events, both in person and online to encourage everyone to get involved and find out more about the region’s marine life.
As you might expect, with two coastlines and being well known for the quality of its seafood, Devon has a huge community of marine life and several areas that are designated at marine conservation areas. In North Devon, there is Lundy Island, which is home to the region’s largest puffin community, as well as several other important species of sea bird and it is common to see seals, dolphins and other similar creatures skimming the surface. The waters surrounding Lundy Island form part of a marine conservation zone, with a focus on spiny lobsters and overlaps with a separate conservation area which protects reefs, sea caves, sandbanks and the seal population. Though watersports and other activities are permitted around Lundy Island, activities have to be approved by the island’s manager and are restricted at certain times.
Elsewhere in Devon, there is a marine conservation area in Plymouth. The city has its own Ocean Conservation Trust which is located in the Sound and is the UK’s first National Marine Park. The Sound is one of the world’s natural harbours and has multiple designations for protected habitats and supports over 1000 species of fish and other marine animal life.
Though these two places are the most protected marine areas in the county, you can find interesting sea life all over the county, especially in the warmer waters in south Devon and the Torbay.
To help you get into the spirit, here’s a couple of the creatures you might spot while exploring Devon’s coasts.
If you’re rockpooling, crabbing or on the beach, it is likely that you will come across:
Crabs (particularly spider crabs)
Lobsters (squat lobsters and European lobsters)
While paddling or swimming, as well as more common types of fish, you might notice:
While gazing out to sea or out on a boat, you might be lucky enough to see:
Common Smooth hound
If you happen to be near Lundy Island in North Devon, you’ll likely see some of Devon’s seabirds, including their puffin colony. Other birds that can be spotted here are guillemots, razorbills, shearwaters and kittiwakes.
Did you know that Devon is home to 96 rare and special species? Around half of these can be found on the coast and include everything from coral to sponges – you can easily come across them while out rockpooling or crabbing.
Whether you’re in Devon or not, there are plenty of ways to get involved in National Marine Week, head to the Devon Wildlife Trust’s website where you can find worksheets and spotter guides so you can tell your anemones from your coral. Find out more here.