THE ADUR ESTUARY
SURVEY OF THE MARINE FLORA AND FAUNA 1960 TO 1992

by
JOHN S. BARKER
AUGUST 1992

EDITED BY STEVE J. BARKER











INTRODUCTION

Marine Natural History is beset with difficulties that do not arise in the study of terrestrial animals and plants. A  severe handicap is the difficulty of observing most sea creatures in their natural habitats, often because of short tides, bad weather and too often manís contempt for the environment. During the last few years however there has been an increase in our awareness of this sensitive ecosystem but even so we still see gulls drowning in oil and sewage on our beaches.

This paper is an account of the flora and fauna of the River Adur estuary in West Sussex as observed between the years of 1960 and 1992.

Estuaries act as nurseries for many young sea fish it being safe there from some of their enemies. Food in the form of phytoplankton and zooplankton is plentiful. Some marine animals spend their life there while others visit to feed on the living broth that abounds within the river during the summer months.

As marine life in an estuary is affected by the salinity of the water I have zoned the river into three parts. There are notes on the animals and plants that occupy them for the greater part of a normal year. I have indicated the nature of the river at each zone which at its mouth is a large commercial port while a few miles up river are extensive mud flats, sand bars and salt water creeks.


SITES COVERED

ZONE 1

From the West Breakwater in a line from the Sussex Wharf to Railway Wharf in the west. Then from the East Breakwater across the outer lay-by taking in Kingston Beach, the Middle Pier and the Lifeboat slipway.

ZONE 2

Sussex Wharf up-river to the Norfolk Bridge including the Saltings, both sides of the river going west.

ZONE 3

The Norfolk Bridge to the A27 flyover, both sides of the river including the creeks around Shoreham Airport.


ZONE 1

The harbour with its large breakwaters, docks, wharf pilings and piers could be described as a large tidal pool basin. This zone is truly marine; the movements of tides and the reduced exposure to the prevailing South West wind is a haven for a host of marine flora and fauna.

Looking at the marine vegetation is a good indicator to the shelter the harbour affords. Most common are the Saw and Bladder wrack, both Fucus species, that are also a good indicator of tidal zones. At low water a large sandbar is uncovered opposite the light house on Kingston Beach with big concrete blocks running out to the Middle Pier from the shore.

In this tidal basin most of the wharf pilings are of wood that provides a home for a multitude of algae, hydroids, sponges, truncates and barnacles. Fish and crabs forage around this rich feeding ground and in some cases make their permanent homes there.

ZONE 2

Saltings: view from the southern end of the footbridge at low tide (Photograph by Andy Horton)The start of zone 2 though still close to the sea is a place of change. Gone are the sand bars and rocks these being replaced with iron pilings and shifting mud at their bases. Large ships unload sand and shingle, scrap iron and wood. At low tide they sit on the mud which on the low spring tides may only give them four to six feet of water. The sea weed is different here. Gone are the Bladder and Saw  wrack this being replaced with other Fucus species more tolerant to long exposure and changes in the water composition.

Within this zone is a modern fish market and Shorehams commercial fishing fleet moorings. The Yacht Club is positioned to the north side of the river just prior to the footbridge. The Adur opens out here to a large expanse of mud flats to the west known as the Saltings. This extends north to the A259 and Norfolk Bridge. The Shoreham town centre is located between the footbridge and Norfolk Bridge beyond the eastern and north-eastern banks of the river.
 
 

 
ZONE 3

Click on the map to enlarge

The photographer (Andy Horton) is standing at the spot marked in red on the enlarged map and the lowest point of the spring tide
 

Moving upstream from the Norfolk Bridge the river is wide with a strong flow evident even on the lowest tides. The bottom is very hard with rocks, stones and vast mussel beds (Mytilus edulis). A public hard, Ropetackle, with a large waste water pipe enters the river here.

Extensive salt water pools lie on this reach at low tide, created by the keels of boats moving on their moorings. The river starts to bend to the east, passing under the railway bridge and the nature of the bed changes once again. Here sizeable sand bars have been laid down and alongside the airport high salt marshes interlaced with creeks run along the western bank. These appear to have been created by sediments becoming trapped and deposited around the plant stems. Long, low sand bars lay to the north and south of the Old Toll Bridge which appear to have started to restrict the flow causing the river to divide into two. One channel runs deep and fast, the other to the west is shallow with a slower flow. The A27 flyover bridge spans the river beyond this point.
 


Notes on the following records:
Taxonomy and scientific names may have been changed. The records have been included as they were originally recorded from 1960 to 1992 when the surveys were first made. There are also a few queries over identification (?), but these have not been amended and the original records have been included without alteration.

SUBLITTORAL SPECIES RECORDED

CLASS CALCAREA   SPONGES
 
Leucosolenia complicata
Sycon ciliatum
Grantia compressa  Purse Sponge

CLASS DEMOSPONGIAE    SPONGES
 
Halichondria panicea Breadcrumb Sponge

CLASS HYDROZOA

  Hermit Crab with the hydroid Hydractinia echinata
 
Hydractinia echinata  (on Hermit Crab Shell)
Obelia geniculata
Tubularia indivisa
Clava multicornis
Sertularia cupressina
Plumularia catharina

CLASS ANTHOZOA    SEA-ANEMONES AND THEIR ALLIES

Actinia equina    Beadlet Anemone   (green, red and less common strawberry form)
Anemone sulcata     :    Opelet or Snakelocks Anemone
Tealia felina      :   Dahlia Anemone
Metridium senile  (white and pink forms)  : Plumose Anemone
Sagartia ornata     :    Burrowing Anemone

CLASS TENTACULATA

Pleurobrachia pileus    :    Sea Gooseberry

CLASS TUBELLARIA    FLATWORMS

Oligocladus sanguinolentus
Prostheceraeus vittatus

RIBBON WORMS

Lineus longissimus     :    Bootlace Worm

CLASS POLYCHAETA    BRISTLE WORMS
 
Harmothoe impar  : Scale Worm
Polynoe scolopendrina  Scale Worm
Nereis diversicolor  Red Ragworm
Nereis fucata  (in Hermit Crab Shells)  :   Ragworm
Eulalia viridis  GreenBristle Worm
Nephtys caeca  White Ragworm
Cirriformia tentaculata  Red Thread Worm
Cirratulus cirratus  Red Thread Worm

CLASS POLYCHAETA BRISTLE WORMS  Continued

Fabelligera affinis
Arenicola marina  Lugworm
Amphitrite johnstoni  EarWorm
Pectinaria koreni  Sand Tube Worm
Lanice conchilega  Sand Mason Worm
Sabella pavonina  Peacock Worm
Pomatoceros triqueter  Keelworm
Spirobis borealis
Golfingia elongata

CLASS POLYPLACOPHORA CHITONS
 
Lepidochitona cinereus
Lepidochitona asellus

CLASS GASTROPODA SNAILS AND SLUGS

Slipper Limpet & the European Oyster
 
Patella vulgata  Common Limpet
Patella intermedia  Limpet
Gibbula umbilicalis  Purple Topshell
Gibbula cineraria  Grey  Topshell
Littorina littoralis  Flat Periwinkle
Littorina saxatilis  Rough Periwinkle
Littorina neritoides  Small Periwinkle
Littorina lapillus  Edible Periwinkle
Crepidula fornicata Slipper Limpet
Nucella lapillus  Dogwhelk
Hydrobia ulvae  Laver Spire Shell
Buccinum undatum  Common Whelk
Nassarius reticulatus Netted Dogwhelk
Aeolidia papillosa  Grey Sea Slug
Archidoris psuedoargus  Sea Lemon

Sea Slug (Nudibranch) page

CLASS BIVALVIA
 
Mytilis edulis :   Sea Mussel
Ostrea edulis  :   English Oyster
Cardium edule Common Cockle
Scrobicularia plana  :   Peppery Furrow Shell
Venerupis pullastra :   Carpet Shell
Pholas dactylus :   Common Piddock
Teredo navalis  ShipWorm

CLASS CRUSTACEA BARNACLES
 
Semibalanus balanoides  :   Acorn Barnacle
Chthamalus montagui
Balanus improvisus :   Acorn Barnacle
Sacculina carcini  :   Parasitic Barnacle

SUBCLASS MYSIDACEA   OPPOSUM SHRIMPS
 
Neomysis integer

ORDER ISOPODA

Ligia oceanica  Ligia oceanica

SEA SLATERS
http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~sakurai/whyligia.html
 
Idotea chelipes
Sphaeroma rugicauda
Limnorea lignorum  :   Gribble
Ligia oceanica  Sea Slater
Gammarus locusta  :   Sand Hopper
Corophium volutator
Caprella linaeris  Ghost Shrimp

ORDER DECAPODA

Photograph by Andy Horton.Carcinus maenas
 
 
Alpheus ruber  Snapping Prawn
Crangon vulgaris  Common Shrimp
Leander serratus  Common Prawn
Palaemonetes varians  Estuary Prawn
Galathea squamifera  Squat Lobster
Porcellana platycheles  Broad Clawed Porcelain Crab
Porcellana longicornis  Long-clawed Porcelain Crab
Eupagurus bernhardus  Common Hermit Crab
Macropodia tenuirostris  Spider Crab (?)
Inachus dorsettensis  Spider Crab (?)
Hyas araneus Spider Crab
Carcinus maenas  : Common Shore Crab
Cancer pagurus  Edible Crab
Corystes cassivelaunus Masked Crab
Pinnotheres pisum  Pea Crab
Macropipus puber  Velvet Swimming Crab
Pilumnus hirtellus  Hairy Crab

CLASS INSECTA
 
Petrobius maritimus  Bristle-tail
Lipura maritima  Spring-tail

CLASS PYCNOGONIDA

Nymphon gracile     :    Sea Spider

CLASS GYMNOLAEMATA

Bowerbankia imbricata
Membranipora membranacea   :    Sea Mat
Flustra foliacea     :    Hornwrack
Bugula Turbinata

CLASS ASTEROIDEA
 
Asterias rubens Common Starfish

CLASS ASTEROIDEA  Cont.

Arcrocnida brachiata    :    Brittle Star (very small)

CLASS ECHINOIDEA
 
Strongylocentrotus droebrachiensis (?) Green Sea-Urchin

CLASS ASCIDIACEA    SEA SQUIRTS
 
 

Sea Squirts are fouling organisms on wharves and piers
Ciona intestinalis

Ciona intestinalis
Clavelina lepadiformis
Ascidiella aspersa
Botryllus schlosseri     :   Star ascidian
Molgula occulta

CLASS OSTEICHTHYES   BONY FISHES
 

Pouting
 
Salmo trutta Sea Trout
Anguilla anguilla  Common Eel
Trisopterus lusca  Pouting or Bib
Pollachius pollachius  Pollack
Gaidropsarus mediterraneus (?)  Shore Rockling
Ammodytes lancea  Lesser Sandeel
Syngnathus acus  Greater Pipefish
Nerophis lumbriciformis  Worm Pipefish
Syngnathus rostellatus  Lesser Pipefish or Nilssons Pipefish
Atherina presbyter  Sand Smelt
Liza ramada (?) Thin-lipped Grey Mullet
Trachurus trachurus  Horse Mackerel
Scomber scombrus Mackerel
Labrus bergylta  Ballan Wrasse
Crenilabrus melops  Corkwing Wrasse
Callionymus lyra  Dragonet (young females only)
Pholis gunnellus  Butterfish or Gunnel
Blennius pholis  Shanny or Blenny
Blennius gattorugine  Tompot Blenny (very young)
Gobius niger  Black Goby
Gobius paganellus  Rock Goby
Pomatoschistus minutus  Sand Goby
Gobiusculus flavescens  Two-spot Goby
Agonus cataphractus  : Armed Bullhead (very young)
Cottus bubalis  Long-Spined Sea Scorpion
Spinachia spinachia  Fifteen Spined Sea Stickleback
Gasterosteus aculeatus  Three spined Stickleback
Scophthalmus maximus  Turbot (very young specimens)
Scophthalmus rhombus Brill (very young specimens)
Pleuronectes limanda Dab (very young specimens)
Pleuronectes platessa  Plaice (very young specimens)
Solea solea  Dover Sole
Platechthys flesus  Flounder
Dicentrarchus labrax  Bass

CLASS CHLOROPHYCEAE    GREEN ALGAE     ZONE
 
Blidingia minima         1, 2 & 3
Enteromorpha compressa        1, 2 & 3
Enteromorpha intestinalis        2 & 3
Ulva lactuce  Sea Lettuce  1, 2 & 3
Cladophora rupestris        1, 2 & 3
Derbesia marina         1 & 2

 

CLASS PHAEOPHYCEAE    BROWN ALGAE

Laminaria saccharina         1
Fucus serratus     :    Saw Wrack  1
Fucus spiralis     :    Flat Wrack  1
Fucus ceranoides     :     1, 2 & 3
Fucus visiculosus     :    Bladder Wrack 1
Pelvetia canaliculata     :    Channel Wrack 1
Porphyra umbilicalis    :    Laver  1 & 2

CLASS RHODOPHYCEAE   RED ALGAE

Gigartina stellata        1
Chondrus crispus  1, 2 & 3

FLORA OF SHINGLY BEACHES  (ZONE 1)
 
Glaucium flavum  : Yellow Horned Poppy
Solanum dulcumara Bittersweet
Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel
Armeria maritima  Sea-pinks   or Thrift
Beta maritima  Sea Beet
Plantago maritima  Sea Plantain
Brassica oleracea Wild Cabbage
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel
Silene maritima  Sea Campion
Daucus gigidium  Sea Carrot
Sedum acre  Yellow Stonecrop
Crambe maritima  Sea Kale
Echium vulgare Viperís Bugloss
Calystegia soldanella Sea Bindweed
Linaria vulgaris  Common Toadflax
Centranthus ruber  Red Valerian
FLORA OF THE SALTMARSH (ZONE 2 & 3)
Halimione portaculoides Sea Purslane
Suaeda maritima Sea-blite
Salicornia sp.  Glasswort
Aster tripolium  Sea Aster
Limonium vulgare Sea Lavender

Adur:  Nature Notes 2003
Adur Valley
Shoreham-by-Sea Wildlife
River Adur Estuary Page
Seashore Page
Widewater Lagoon
 

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  ter tripolium  :  Sea Aster Limonium vulgare :  Sea Lavender

Adur:  Nature Notes 2003
Adur Valley
Shoreham-by-Sea Wildlife
River Adur Estuary Page
Seashore Page
Widewater Lagoon
 

British Marine Life Study Society Home Page
Homepage
Index
News 2017
News 2016
Main Links
Membership Form
Top of the Page