Did you know that National Marine Week is coming? Despite the name, the campaign will actually span across 15 days to allow for the variation in tide times around the UK, with events taking place in person and online throughout the county and the rest of the country. Kicking off on 24th July, there will be a host of events taking place around the region and plenty of worksheets available online so you can explore local rock pools and identify some of the more common marine life spotted around the North Devon Coast.
In North Devon there has been Marine Protected Area around Lundy Island since the 1970s, as well as a Special Area of Conservation both of which work together to help protect the reefs, caves and sandbanks that surround the island as well as the creatures that live there, including the region’s population of grey seals. If you want to find out more about marine life, Lundy Island is a great place to visit. The island is accessible via its own ferry which sails three times a week from Bideford and Ilfracombe. Once there, you can either enjoy a day trip or if you want to be really off grid, stay over – the island has no electricity and no WiFi!
Lundy Island literally translates as Puffin Island, which is an apt name considering that the largest collection of puffins in the south west live there, they aren’t the only species that are protected as part of the conservation area, here are some of the creatures you can find there.
We already mentioned that the grey seals are under protection in Lundy’s waters. Unlike in other areas of Devon, the seals can be found just about anywhere on the island and are known to be very playful, especially with those visiting to snorkel or swim. The best places to see seals on the island are the North End and Brazen Ward and if you visit between September and November, you’ll get the chance to spot some of the new born pups!
These aren’t quite as mystical as they sound, this is the collective name for the family of mammals that include dolphins, whales and porpoises which can often be spotted while making the trip over to the island from the mainland. The most commonly seen species in Devon are bottle nose dolphins, common dolphins and harbour porpoises and Lundy Island is no different. You can usually see these during the summer months, making them a great creature to look out for during National Marine Week.
Part of the conservation area at Lundy Island focuses on a variety of cold water corals which are all prevalent around the island and are also very rare. Lundy’s unique environment means that there are five different species of coral on the south and east ends of the island.
You can find many varieties of jellyfish throughout the year when visiting Lundy Island. In the summer months, during this year’s National Marine Week, you’re most likely to see compass and purple jellyfish, while in the colder months, you can spot By-the-wind-sailors.
As you might imagine, there are plenty of fish to be spotted around Lundy Island, the most popular of which are wrasse, blennies and gobies which are often found in rockpools alongside clingfish. During the summer, you can often see basking sharks which are actually one of the world’s largest fish. There have even been reports of sunfish and leatherback turtles being spotted – so who knows what you might see during National Marine Week!
Why not get ready for National Marine Week by visiting the Devon Wildlife Trust website where you can find a whole host of activity sheets for free to help you spot some of the region’s marine life while visiting the coast this summer? From rockpool creatures to those that you’ll find on the sand, you can become a marine expert yourself in no time! Find out more here You can find details about ferry trips and ticket prices to Lundy Island from Bideford and Ilfracombe on the island’s website, here.