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Chichester Harbour is internationally important for birds and for its coastal habitats. You might not think that harbour wildlife is unusual enough for that, but although in the southeast of England there are quite a lot of wet and muddy bits, over the whole of Europe these estuarine ecosystems are rare. Wetlands, including coastal areas, are one of the most threatened and diminishing habitats internationally.
A huge variety of plants and animals live in and around the harbour. Some are hidden in the mud, or are underwater, so it's not immediately obvious what is there. Others are very easy to see. On any walk or sail around the harbour, you are sure to see some wildlife. Check out the plants, marine life and birds pages for more information.
• The harbour has an average of 52,500 waterfowl each year. That makes it the most important single site on the south coast of England for these birds. Read more
• It has internationally important numbers of 5 species of wildfowl and waders It is nationally important for at least 8 further species. Read more
• A number of nationally rare species of plants grow here, including orchids and plants that thrive in saltwater. Read more
• An area of mudflat similar to that occupied by a dinghy could hold 40,000 tiny Laver spire shells, 60,000 Corophium shrimps, 50,000 Baltic Tellin shellfish or up to 500 Ragworms.
• There are underwater slippers, spiders and peacocks (limpets, crabs and worms), dahlias, carrots and gooseberries (anemones, sponges and sea squirts)! Read more
• Around 20 Harbour Seals live in the Solent and regularly visit Chichester Harbour. Read more
• There are at least 9 different habitats including saltmarsh, sand dunes and mudflats. Read more
Chichester Harbour has been given several designations as international, European and national level in recognition of the significance of the wildlife of the harbour. More details can be found on our designations page.
The value of the biodiversity of the harbour in its own right and as a resource for enjoyment is recognised in the harbour Management Plan.
• Join the Friends of Chichester Harbour. The Friends give money to support harbour projects, including wildlife conservation. There are also regular workparties: join other volunteers helping to do practical work to manage habitats.
• Support the Chichester Harbour Trust, which has been set up to buy land in and around the harbour to safeguard it for the future. Tel: 01243 777632 for more information.
• Help with surveys: contact the Conservation Officer, Ed Rowsell and find out more information about counting birds.
• Buy locally raised conservation beef. See www.threeharboursbeef.co.uk
• Take care of the wildlife when you are out and about. In particular, keep your dog away from birds.
• Help with Goose Watch by reporting your sightings of birds on inland fields in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty• Sign up for Ed's Nature Notes by the eNewsletter to get a monthly list of what to look out for.