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The Seashore

Rocky Shore Trail
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Rocky Shores - an introduction

Because the tide rises up and down twice a day things at the top of the shore get much less water than things at the bottom. This gives rise to an extraordinarily large number of different ways of surviving on rocky seashores. Nearly every phylum has a representative on the shore. What's more all these creatures are crammed into the small physical space between the tides. At low tide the organisms that live on the seashore tend to sit there quietly, almost begging you to measure and count them. Many of them are just the right size for such activities. Most people (even cool ones) will admit to enjoying being on seashores, wrestling with crabs and identifying with seaweeds and most people live reasonably near to one (or at least will be taken to one at some time).

The other major physical factor that controls what can live on a shore is wave action. Exposed shores have lots of wave action and sheltered shores have little.

Partially because of the strong environmental gradient resulting from the rise and fall of the sea, the organisms on the shore occur in distinctive horizontal bands or zones. We can use this fact to divide the shore up into convienient zones for us to study. In short, if you are a student (A Level or other) rocky shores provide you with a vast array of easily carried out investigations and projects.

To find out more about the abiotic factors affecting the zones of organisms click here.


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The FSC offers a range of publications, courses for schools and colleges and courses for adults, families and professionals that relate to the seashore environment. Why not find out more about the FSC?

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