Looking out to sea from the from Brighton does not reflect the huge number of sea creatures the water contains. Often the only marine life seen is the gulls determined to make the most of every opportunity for food. The evenings often bring wonderfully entertaining flocks of starlings. If you are very lucky you may see a dolphin of Brighton. The rest of the time the sea itself appears a to be a bit of a desert.

This is far from the truth. The marine life is abundant. Fish are the animals people first think of when they think of sea creatures, but this is only one of the many groups of sea creatures. The major groups are:


Fish are a group of sea creatures that possess distinctive head with eyes and mouth. They have openings on each side for water  to pass over the gills. They do not have limbs with digits, but have fins for mobility. Most fish in UK waters are have a vertebrae (back-bone), but other cartilaginous species are evident. They usually have a covering of scales and are cold blooded. Fish are the greatest diversity of species of all vertebrates.

Typical species around Brighton are:

Open Water:

  • Bass
  • mackerel
  • herring

Bottom on soft seabeds:

  • Flatfish – mainly plaice, but also dab, flounder, sole, turbot, brill
  • Dogfish
  • Angler fish
  • Red Gurnard
  • gobies

Bottom on hard seabeds and wrecks:

  • Lumpsucker
  • Blenny
  • pipefish
  • Eels (inc. conger)
  • ling
  • wrasse
  • sea-bream
  • cod
  • Pollack
  • whiting


Crustaceans have hard outer shell. They have segmented articulated legs. Obvious eyes and segmented bodies:

Typical species are:

  • Lobster
  • Crabs – edible, velevet swimming, shore, spider


Echinoderms have a body based mainly on 5 segments. Generally brightly coloured with a hard skin. Often hard spines on the body and a large number of tubed feet.

Typical species are:

  • starfish
  • urchins
  • sea cucumber


Generally animals with a flower like appearance. Brightly coloured with tentacles to trap food and stinging cells.

Typical species are:

  • Dead mans fingers
  • sea fans
  • anenomes
  • jellyfish


Mainly have chalky shells. A wide range of colours a fleshy body but no obvious body segments.

Typical species are:

  • Octopus, squid, cuttlefish
  • limpets
  • scallops, oysters, mussels
  • sea slugs, nudibranchs


Generally red or green in colour. They have a slippery feel and attach themselves to the bottom. They are often flat or feathery in appearance.

Porifera (Sponges)

Sea creatures that often cover rocks and hard surfaces. and come in all shapes and colours. The sponge is multi-cellular creature with pores or water channels which run through the body to provide oxygen and food. There is no circulatory, digestive or nervous system within the creature and it relies on the water flow to keep alive.


Nothing like the land creatures. Bispira is probably the most common which is a hard tube connected to rocks which have tentacles from the top which will retract when disturbed.


Often attach themselves to rocks. They have a sac like body structure. They are marine filter feeders which take water in through a siphon which is then expelled through a siphon. As the water passes through the body the plankton is filtered out. Water flow is created by cilia in the body.


A group of invertebrate filter feeders. They are often small creatures forming larger colonies that form mats on hard surfaces.