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Captain Cockle's SeaShore Safari

The rocky seashore is one of the richest places to study animal and plant life on the planet. All sorts of environmental forces - from the crushing pressure of waves, to the drying effect of the sun and wind, attacks by predators by land and sea - have created a fascinating variety of living things. Each one of them is specially adapted to life on the shore and, as such, are fascinating to study.

As this website develops, we'll be showing you ways of studying this amazing environment in safety, without doing damage to the animals and plants that live there.

cockle logo
what to wear on the shore

Planning a Seashore Safari - Plan to be on the seashore two hours before low spring tides (you can get tide tables from angling and boating shops). Make sure you have waterproof clothes, waterproof footwear that will not slip on the rocks, and a whistle to call attention if you get into trouble.

A net and bucket are great for gathering specimens, but remember - ALWAYS turn rocks back after you've looked under them and ALWAYS return animals to the shore where you found them. A digital camera with a "macro" facility allows you to photograph whatever you see without having to take it away from the shore (and for avoiding funny smells in the car or the classroom afterwards!!!).


Plants on the shore change from those that live fully on land to those that are covered with water almost all the time. Because seawater filters sunlight, removing the red colour, you'll see that the colour of seaweeds change as you go down the shore. Green seaweeds live at the top of the shore (where the light is still white) with browns in the middle and reds at the bottom. This is because red colours absorb blue light best and are most efficient for plants living underwater.

seashore transect
knotted wrack Seashore Plants like Sea Pinks (right) live at the top of the shore. They have flowers and look like land plants (except that their leaves are tough and narrow to reduce the effect of salt spray. Seaweeds like Knotted Wrack (left) live further down the shore and are constantly battered by the waves. To avoid being broken and torn, they have abandoned stiff stems to hold their fronds up into the light and have air bladders instead. sea pinks in flower
octopus and computers

Ollie says, "Check out these cool websites"

A Beginner’s Guide to Ireland’s Seashore
From Sherkin Island Marine Station
In all good bookshops or online from:

Also DVD - At the Water's Edge - from Sherkin Island Marine Station



The Submarine Cormorant

Ideas for Teachers

Captain Cockle's Seashore Safari

Graphics and Text - Copyright John Joyce 2007