Chichester Harbour is of national and international importance for landscape and nature conservation and is a special place for wildlife.

A wide variety of animals and creatures live in and around the Harbour - some are very easy to spot, whereas others may be hidden in the intertidal mud or in the water, making them less obvious.  As you walk or sail here, you are bound to see something special.

Some of the habitats and wildlife are internationally important, so they are protected by international legislation. Wetlands are one of the most threatened and diminishing habitats throughout Europe. Therefore, places such as Chichester Harbour and parts of the southeast of England are special because these wetland areas, and the intertidal mud, provide food for many important bird species.

Visit the wildlife page to learn more about the wildlife specific to Chichester Harbour.

Interesting facts about Chichester Harbour

  • Over 55,000 waders and waterfowl visit the Harbour each year, making this the most important single site on the south coast of England.
  • Internationally important numbers of 5 species of wildfowl and waders come here - that's over 1% of the world population.
  • It is nationally important for at least 8 further species - over 1% of the UK population.
  • Around 40 Harbour Seals live happily in the Solent and regularly visit Chichester Harbour to haul out and breed.
  • Over 40,000 tiny Laver Spire shells, 60,000 Corophium Shrimps, 50,000 Baltic Tellin shellfish, or up to 500 Ragworm can live in an area of Harbour mud similar to that occupied by a dinghy.
  • There are lots of underwater slippers, spiders and peacocks (limpets, crabs and worms), dahlias, carrots and gooseberries (anemones, sponges and sea squirts) here.
  • There are at least 9 different habitats including saltmarsh, sand dunes and mudflats.
  • You will find a number of nationally rare species of plants, including orchids and plants that thrive in salt water or can tolerate sea spray.

What is being done to look after wildlife and habitats in the Harbour?

The Harbour is protected by several designations. These are at an international, European and national level, in recognition of its significance for wildlife and habitats. Balancing the needs of wildlife with human activity in this popular location is an ongoing challenge.

Our 5-year Management Plan forms the basis of how we protect wildlife and manage leisure and recreation. We work closely with landowners, water users and relevant organisations to ensure that activities in the Harbour do not affect the wildlife and habitats.

We work with organisations, such as the Langstone Harbour Board and Solent Forum to provide a consistent approach across both Chichester and Langstone Harbours, and throughout the Solent.