Weird and Wonderful creatures that have found life on our UK beaches

Our ocean has a depth at an average of 3,682 metres according to the Ocean Exploration. We still have 80% of our ocean marked as unexplored according to Ocean Service therefore, it makes us humans wonder what other sea creatures are out there that we don’t know about yet.

As we endure the heatwaves and rare spots of sunshine and warm weather in the UK, many of us will want to get our wetsuits on and head to our nearest beach.

The crabbing season is coming to an end and lots more families will be flocking to the beaches to find the next best sea creature to spot.

However, more recently there have been some unique creatures found washed up on our shores, whether you’re on a beach in North Wales or down south in Cornwall, many people have been posting pictures of unusual creatures they’ve seen.

Recently, in St Ives Cornwall, on Porthgwidden beach, many people were given a fright when the beach was infested with venomous Giant Spider Crabs, luckily harmless to humans. This was a rare sight to see on the beach, especially to see thousands covering the shallow ocean floor, which made some people flee the beach, yet many keen snorkelers decided to take a swim to have a look at the ocean’s creepy crawlies.

It’s always a joy to find weird creatures we never thought existed as it helps to solidify the importance of our oceans and how there is still so much life in our waters that we are still yet to discover.

That is why Ocean’s Plastic Free, the eco innovators in the toilet paper market, have explored the different beaches to find a list of the weird and wonderful creatures found on our beaches in the UK.

As unusual as these sea creatures may be, Ocean’s Plastic Free wants to emphasise how we need to take extra care of our oceans, otherwise we may end up killing off the sea life that lives amongst us.

With noise pollution and human waste being the main components affecting the ocean and its creatures habitat, it is becoming apparent that the more new creatures we find, the more we need to understand about how they survive, so we are best prepared on how to protect them.

 

Let’s now take a dive onto our UK beaches to find out what weird and wonderful creatures have been spotted and where! 

 

Translucent creatures, Tor Bay beach, South Wales

Have you ever walked across a beach and seen multiple jelly spherical objects all over the sand? No me neither, but on Tor Bay beach, many beachgoers in 2021 were met with small see-through figures on the sand, yet many had no idea what they were or even if they were live creatures. Some people might assume that they are jellyfish from their texture, but they’re actually known as ‘Pleurobrachia pileus’ which can also go by the term ‘sea gooseberries’. These weird creatures are 2.5cm long with a pair of tentacles that are normally twice as long as their body, these are not harmful to humans and it’s very common for them to be found on beaches across the UK in the summer. So next time you’re on a beach lookout and be careful to not step on any of these little sea gooseberries!

 

Starfish Playing the Maracas, Gwynedd beach, North Wales

Unfortunately, this title is misleading as we weren’t able to  actually find a sea creature who can play the maracas, but we found one that looks like they are! The unique creature was found on Gwynedd beach in North Wales and is also being dubbed as the ‘Stranger things’ creature, due to it having a body shaped like a spider and with, what appears to be, clams at the end of its tentacles. With the creature being referred to as looking very closely like a monster, this may have scared any local on their pleasant stroll across the beach. Yet, this creature is actually known to experts as a Gooseneck barnacle, which is seen to be a rare delicacy and normally found on rocky territory. So if you come across it don’t forget to snap a picture to prove you got a rare sight of one yourself.

 

Portuguese Man-of-War, West Wittering, Sussex

These weird little creatures at first glance might look like a washed-up carrier bag, but they are so much more than that. They were spotted on a beach in West Wittering Sussex, they are 12 inches long and five inches wide with long tentacles attached to their bodies. They may look small but these creatures are deadly to small fishes and animals, as they are filled with venom used to paralyse and kill small creatures. They also have a mean sting if any human touches them, but luckily they’re not deadly to us. Scientists named this interesting creature ‘Portuguese Man-of-War’ due to its gas filled bladder which sits above the water and shows similarities to an old warship. Like I said, although they may look harmless, please don’t touch one!

 

Sea Potatoes, Penzance beach, Cornwall

Potatoes anyone? Well, that’s what some Cornish residents thought they were walking onto the beach to find, due to the creatures round and uneven shape and a little discoloration on their outer shell. Yet, these creatures are actually known as heart urchins, with the clue being in the name, they are the shape of a heart and tend to be covered in short yellow-brown spines which help them to move around. You’ll normally find these urchins off the coast of Ireland and Japan as well as the UK, and they belong to the family of the starfish and sea cucumbers. If you’re near any tide pools or shallow water at your beach, have a look out for any potential sea potatoes in their habitat, but just remember they can’t be made into roast potatoes for your Sunday roast.

 

Otter Shells, Cefn Sidan beach, Pembrey Wales

Another weird and wonderful creature noticed on the Welsh beaches were multiple shelled creatures known as Otter Shells, or for those who prefer the scientific name, they’re also known as ‘Lutraria Lutraria’ who are part of the mollusc family. Although, with the creatures having a long tail extending from their shell, one might assume they’re an alien who has fallen out of the sky, but they’re known to normally be buried deep into the sand so it is rare to see them actually on our beaches. Normally, turbulent weather conditions can cause these creatures to wash up on our shore, so if you see one, they might be a new addition to add to your shell collection.

 

Basking Shark, Devon

I’m sure as soon as you saw the shark in the title, the theme tune of Jaws started playing in your head and the natural feeling of fear kicked in.  However, the basking shark is nothing to fear and is known to not be a danger to humans, due to the fact they mainly eat plankton which is a variety of small fish, animal eggs, and shrimp. Basking Sharks will swim for 30 to 60 seconds with their mouths wide open to catch their favourite meal of the day. These sharks can be commonly found in the summer period in the UK in areas such as Devon, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man and they tend to migrate south as far as North Africa. There have been more sightings of these specimens who are on average 20-26ft, the second largest fish in the world! As our summer comes to an end in the UK, this is the best time to look out for a basking shark on our coasts.

 

The Sunfish, Hebrides, Scotland

These fish are unusual-looking creatures, as they have bodies shaped like dinner plates and rough skin with a silvery tone. What makes these creatures so unique is their facial features as they practically resemble a confused human with their large, wide eyes and a mouth that is permanently opened. According to the National Geographic, they are just like us in going wherever the warmer temperatures are and tend to be in the more tropical waters. Although more recently they have been spotted in the Scottish oceans, especially the Hebrides, being clumsy swimmers that they are, it’s no surprise they might have swam to the coldest part of the UK… They live off a diet of mainly jellyfish, so their stomachs can definitely handle the stinging tentacles.

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