Common dolphin © Lissa Batey
Sunlit shallows © Paul Naylor
Okenia elegans sea slug © Paul Naylor
Thongweed scenery © Paul Naylor
Basking shark © Andrew Pearson
Jewel anemones © Paul Naylor
Jellyfish swarm © Paul Naylor
Corkwing male with nest © Paul Naylor
The seas around the UK have the potential to be among the most productive and wildlife-rich on Earth. Hidden beneath the surface are landscapes every bit as varied and beautiful as those we see on land, with undersea cliffs, caves, chasms, mountains, dunes and plains. Colourful reefs, meadows of seagrass and other extraordinary habitats are home to many thousands of plants and animals, from tiny corals to the massive basking shark, the world's second largest fish.
The UK's sea are also our life support system. they absorb vast quantities of harmful 'greenhouse' gases, while releasing oxygen for us to breathe. Our seas regulate the climate, and 'good' bacteria in the sea help govern clouds and rainfall.
The seas provide us with many everyday resources too: energy from oil, gas and renewable sources; sand and gravel to construct roads and buildings; seafood, and ports through which more than 90% of our imports and exports travel. Our coastal waters are an unrivalled playground, enjoyed for sport and relaxation. In all, our coasts and seas play a central role in our nation's history, identity, wealth and happiness.
The seas around the UK have the potential to be among the most productive and wildlife-rich on Earth.