The Berwickshire and North Northumberland coast is widely known for its abundant wildlife and its spectacular variety of marine habitats. Due to its international significance, 150 km of the coastline and 645 km2 of shallow sea are designated as a European Marine Site. The site stretches from Alnmouth in Northumberland, England, up to Fast Castle Head in Berwickshire, Scotland and includes a number of offshore islands.
The intertidal rocky shore supports a dazzling array of marine life due to the many nooks and crannies for plants and animals to colonise. The numerous pools that dot the rocky shore provide a natural aquarium, allowing us to glimpse sea creatures in their natural environment, including hermit crabs, sea slugs and anemones. The remarkable rocky reef continues into the depths, providing a magical underwater seascape teaming with a colourful living carpet of brittlestar beds, urchins, anemones, sponges and mobile species such as crabs and lobsters. Weak spots within the reef and sea cliffs have eroded over millions of years to create mysterious sea caves, ranging from shallow overhangs to complex networks tunnelling for hundreds of meters into the bed rock. The assortment of conditions provided by the caves allows them to support a colourful mosaic of creatures like ascidians, bryozoans, sponges and sea squirts. The rocky outcrops which make up the Farne Islands support an internationally renowned breeding colony of grey seals. Dense kelp forests fringe the rocky reef, providing shelter to an astonishing variety of juvenile fish, sea mats and urchins beneath their swaying marine canopy. Extensive sand and mud flats and sweeping bays support vast numbers of marine worms and molluscs, which in turn provide an important food source for a multitude of coastal and sea birds.
Beadnell lies at the heart of the European Marine Site and is characterised by a beautiful sandy bay at the centre of two rocky headlands. These headlands are home to an overwhelming assortment of marine creatures. The rocky shore to the north of the bay is our ‘Ocean Connect’ site, twinned with the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre in New South Wales, Australia. Although Beadnell is regarded as one of the most important rocky shores in Europe for marine biodiversity, supporting charismatic and rare species such as brightly coloured sea slugs and tunicates, and the elusive stalked jelly fish, it also supports an astounding range species that are typical of waters in the North East of the UK. We can’t wait to share our information, stories and best practice with the Sapphire Coast!