In pictures: the secret life of the UK’s seas – FFA

A series of underwater photographs celebrating sea creatures that live in UK waters. It was released in support of endangered ecosystems

Scrapping crabs, stealthy catsharks and curious humpback whales are among the stars of a photo series that celebrates the secret life of the UK’s seas. 

The Marine Conservation Society (MSC), curated these images. The charity wanted to highlight the fragility and beauty of marine life while shining a light on ecosystems that are often overlooked.

Pollution, bottom trawling and climate change are just some of the threats facing the UK’s seas. According to the MSC, just six per cent of the country’s marine protected areas outlaw the destructive practice of bottom trawling, which involves dragging fishing gear along the seabed.

MSC analysis found that in Dogger Bank – a marine protected area (MPA) off the coast of Yorkshire – bottom trawling has actually increased in recent years. The MPA is roughly five times the size of the Lake District National Park, but because it’s underwater much of the degradation goes unseen.

“Just because we can’t experience the splendour and magic of the Dogger Bank and other invaluable, precious offshore areas as easily, doesn’t mean that they should continue to be treated as marine conservation’s forgotten children,” said Sandy Luk, the charity’s chief executive.

Mercifully, efforts to conserve some underwater ecosystems have been stepped up in recent years, including the launch of England’s largest seagrass restoration project off the south coast of Plymouth.

Spider crabs battle on the seafloor off Cornwall’s coast. Image: Martin Stevens

To help it monitor the nation’s shores, the MSC is calling for volunteer divers and snorkelers to help it conducts surveys in UK waters. The charity provides training.

Data collected from the Seasearch surveys will help provide an insight into the state of the nation’s shores, which could ultimately help inform conservation strategies. 

“The Seasearch programme is a great way of giving back and exploring the UK’s waters,” said the charity. Find out more about this program here.


Gallery: the secret life of the UK’s seas 

Main image: Peter Shucksmith