If you could walk out to sea from Boston you might cross Black Buoy Sand and Butterwick Low before entering Boston Deeps. Compared to the open sea, here in the Wash it is relatively sheltered allowing shellfish to breed and providing a safe haven for flat fish whose nursery grounds teem with young plaice and sole.
You'd pass vast colonies of mussels, beds of cockles and living reefs made by a worm called Sabellaria spinulosa that lives inside tubes made from grains of sand. You’d see clusters of brittlestars all waving their arms in the current catching morsels of food and may spot lobsters buried in the slopes of sand banks.
As you continued out to the open sea you might see sea birds diving past you chasing their prey or harbour porpoises and seals.
If you could walk far enough, you’d reach the giant sand dunes of Dogger Bank rising up to 60 metres high: as high as the Grimsby dock tower. Between the sand hills there are more open plains with clams, sea potatoes (urchins), shrimps and huge shoals of sand eels; diving headfirst into the sand at the slightest hint of danger. These are the hunting grounds of larger predatory fish such as thornback ray, cod and dog fish.
Years of exploitation have led to a perception of the North Sea as empty and lifeless but hidden beneath the waves is an astonishing array of wildlife. The North Sea is also rich in resources, many of which we use in our day to day lives. Fishing, extractive and renewable industries are all vying for space, whilst North Sea waters are amongst the busiest in the world for shipping traffic. We need to find a balance to ensure our marine wildlife is protected and that the sea continues to provide us with the everyday resources we need.
The Wildlife Trusts have been campaigning for many years for comprehensive legislation to achieve better protection for marine wildlife and effective management of our seas. Living Seas is the Wildlife Trusts’ vision for the future of the UK’s seas where marine wildlife thrives from the depths of the oceans to the coastal shallows. Find out more on the Living Seas pages of our website.