Discover the wonderful sea creatures that inhabit the UK seas and shores
UK seas is a guide to the fauna and flora found around UK coasts.
While the majority of species are marine, some species are included
that are regularly encountered on land by the coast, so you’ll find
descriptions of non-marine species such as reptiles, amphibians,
insects and plants as well.
The common cockle is compact and slow growing, but found in huge numbers in their favoured habitats.
A ribbed, cone-shaped shell stuck to rocks and boulders is usually all you will see; the animal inside is a snail-like mollusc with a powerful "foot" to keep it clamped to the rock.
Usually brownish in colour, with two rows of suckers lining each of its eight "arms".
The Common squid has a long pale body with a frilly fringe, large eye and long tentacles.
Very large shell, usually white. Its body is also pale, but flecked with dark colours. Also called "buckie".
Common whelk egg cases
The puffy balls of white eggcases come from the common whelk which are laid on the seabed by these large sea snails.
Large eye, striped body shaped by the central "bone" and ten tentacles (the two longest ones are usually hidden).
This chalky white "bone" comes from an amazing squid-like mollusc which has large eyes, eight arms (plus two feeding tentacles) and a body that can change chameleon-like in colour and texture.
Plain white or grey, but often banded yellow or brown.
Tough, round shell usually dark brown, black or grey.
Distinctive shaped shell, with striped ridges. It is tiny, but as colourful as its larger tropical relatives.
An enormous shell, over a foot in length, which lives with the narrow end of its shell submerged in the seabed so that only the shell opening is visible.
An animal with two familiar-shaped hinged shells, with one shell much flatter than the other. Also called king scallop.
A thick-shelled snail, mostly mottled grey and brown, but often with a pearly looking surface towards the apex of the shell in older specimens.
The animal's shell is very limpet like, ridged and with a slotted hole at the apex of the shell.
The king scallop has a large, fan-shaped pair of pale shells, rather like the familiar petroleum company's logo.
A marbled-orange colour, and just one row of suckers on each arm.
A mini version of the cuttlefish. It grows no more than a few centimetres long, and buries itself in sand.
Very familiar two-shelled mollusc, dark blue to black in colour. Often found attached to rocks on the shore, tending to grow bigger below the tideline.
Shells rather scaly in appearance, chalky in colour. The two "halves" of the shells are quite different in shape.
A familiar oyster, with two knobbly grey shells.
A tall shell with stripes of purple and white, in a striking conical shape.
Lives buried in sand. Its two long shells look like a cutthroat razor, and they can be quite sharp.
Just occasionally jet-black, rubbery grapes, in bunches, may be encountered amongst the tideline. The cuttlefish is again involved: these are their eggs, laid amongst seagrasses and seaweeds but dislodged by storms or predators. They can sometimes be found stuck to washed-up weeds.
A large seaslug, usually yellow or orange, covered in small warty bumps. Lays a bright ribbon of eggs in the spring.
Although they sound unprepossessing, most are bright, exquisitely beautiful, and quite unlike their garden relatives.
Smooth, oval shaped shell, with a distinctive "shelf" halfway across the opening.
Striped sea snail
Small, slimy fish with small eyes, a smooth head and a tapered body - surprisingly cute!