Chichester Harbour is also home to an abundance of incredible, rare wildlife. From marine life to bird-filled skies, many unique and incredible species can be seen in and around the harbour. Here are a few interesting facts about the wildlife in Chicester Harbour:
- Our water is crowded with life. From colourful seaweeds and reefs of native oysters to crustaceans, molluscs and plankton, there is a whole host of amazing creatures and plants under the sea.
- You’ll find plenty of anemones below the surface. These unusual plants of Finding Nemo fame are a common sight around the Harbour – but they’re not the friendliest of plants. They are carnivorous and have stinging cells to capture their prey, such as shrimp, prawns and small fish.
- We’re famous for our seal colony. As the only known rookery in the Eastern English Channel to be the home of Common Seals, they’re certainly unique. Visitors often tell us of sightings and capture some brilliant pictures – but it’s important to view them from a distance.
- Wading birds love us. Thousands of Curlews, Godwits, Redshanks and Dunlins all choose to live in Chichester Harbour for all or most of the year. Our mud banks, sand dunes and shingles combined with minimal pollution levels and plenty of food, make it the perfect spot for waders to call home.
- We do a monthly bird count. We like to know who’s visiting us and when, so every month our resident ornithologists and volunteers take on one of the 14 sections of Chichester Harbour to record the number of birds.
- Slipper limpets changed our waters. After being accidentally introduced in the late 19th century, the seabed habitat was changed completely as plants and animals suddenly had hard surfaces to attach to.
- Our land is over 50% farmland. The land is used for open arable farming as well as livestock and dairy farming, both of which have an impact on the landscape and habitats. The wide range of environments are home for an array of different animals including the nationally rare Water Vole.
- Fish are our friends. The Harbour is home to over 40 species of fish, including many commercial species such as bass, bream, sole and plaice. But there’s also some more unusual fish too, such as the colourful corkwing wrasse and pipefish.
- We’ve got predators too. It’s not only crabs and crustaceans that lurk amongst the waters; Smooth-Hounds, which are part of the shark family, regularly enter the Harbour.
- We’re internationally important. Full to the brim with rare species and unusual creatures, Chichester Harbour has many national and international designations. We’re an AONB, SAC, Ramsar site, SPA and SSSI – meaning our land, water and wildlife are well cared for.
Our Management Plan explains our focus on helping wildlife to thrive.
The abundant wildlife and plants of Chichester Harbour will continue to be cherished, respected, allowed space to flourish, and will live in harmony with humans. Ongoing species research will continue to help inform management decisions.