Hidden Riches of Our Undersea World We Must Protect; in Association with Environment Agency

Article excerpt

ENGLAND has some of the finest undersea landscapes in the world. There is as much variety underwater as on land.

Our regional seas have their own distinctive places for wildlife. There are more than 10,000 types of plant and animal living in English seas.

So you don't need to go abroad to be amazed by marine life.

The undersea landscapes of the North East stretch from the sandy mouth of the Humber to the Scottish border.

Special to this part of the seas are the underwater caves and chalk pillars off Flamborough Head, the great Rocky Reef, which stretches from the Farnes to Newcastle, with its blue wolf fish; and the sand hills of the Dogger bank, as tall as Nelson's Column, which are rich in sand eels.

Occasionally orcas (killer whales) come to hunt the seals that haunt the reef's kelp forests.

Distinctive landscape features of this undersea region include:

The great North Eastern rocky reef stretching along the Northumberland coast for miles. Home to the pretty cuckoo wrasse, the fearsome-looking wolf fish, deeplet sea anemones, light bulb sea squirts, edible sea urchins and bottle brush hydroids.

An ancient landscape of submerged villages, some from Roman times.

The underwater gullies, cliffs and sea caves around the Farne Islands where kelp forests provide a feeding ground for playful grey seals.

Huge expanses of undersea sand hills and plains which provide a hunting ground for thornback rays, diving seabirds, porpoises and even whales that chase the millions of sand eels which live here.

Huge beds of brittlestars, a kind of starfish, which lie in dense numbers on the gravel seabed, waving their fragile arms to catch food.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are zones where species and habitats are protected from activities that are damaging or cause disturbance. …