Marine Species

We have recorded 24 priority marine species in Sussex. This includes species of reptile, fish and mammal.


Photo: Paul Naylor

Biodiversity Action Plan marine species recorded in Sussex

This includes…

Harbour Seal is the smaller of our two breeding seal species in the UK. They are widely distributed; with around 5% of the global population found in UK waters, however populations in some areas have undergone serious declines. A small population lives in the West Sussex and Solent area, favouring sheltered harbours, and sometimes entering river systems.

Native Oyster is a filter-feeding mollusc found around the western European coastline. They live on the seabed in shallow coastal waters, including those of the Solent. Oysters need a hard surface such as shells or stones on which to attach and feed on plankton in the water. They are able to change sex throughout their lives enabling them to maximise their reproductive output.

Short-snouted Seahorse is one of two seahorse species in the UK. They are distributed along the south coast of England and have been found in the Shoreham and Brighton Marina areas of Sussex. They inhabit relatively shallow water around estuaries, amongst seaweed and seagrass, and in rocky areas, although it is thought they move to deeper water over winter. Seahorses maintain a territory within which they hunt small crustaceans. Population density is usually low and seahorses will form monogamous attatchments, with eggs incubated by the male.

Undulate Ray are found in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, including the waters around Sussex. They spend much of their time on the seabed particularly on sandy substrates, feeding on a range of crustaceans, molluscs and small fish. Like other skates and rays they produce few young, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation and they have undergone serious decline as a result of fishing pressure.

More information about marine species

Marine Conservation Society
Sea Watch Foundation (whales, dolphins and porpoises)
Seal Conservation Society (seals)
The Seahorse Trust (seahorses)
The Shark Trust (sharks, skates and rays)