Reading list

One’s exploring of rocky shores and beaches can be greatly enhanced when the observed animals and be identified:

Sterry, P. and A. Cleave. Collins Complete Guide to British Coastal Wildlife. Harper Collins, pp 384, 2012.
A comprehensive guide to all flora and fauna living close to our coast, including terrestrial plants and seabirds as well as beaches and rock pools. Full of clear photographs of individual species and a good guide for the inexperienced.

Hatcher, J. and S. Trewhella. The Essential Guide to Rockpooling. Wild Nature Press, pp 304, 2019
Concentrates solely on the creatures inhabiting rocky shores and rock pools including seabirds and mammals. Full of excellent photographs and advice about how to get most out rockpooling. A must for beginners.

Trewhella S. and J. Hatcher. The Essential Guide to Beachcombing and the Strandline. Wild Nature Press, pp 304, pp 2015
Very comprehensive guide to the animals, shells and detritus found living and washed up on the sea shore. Lots of excellent photographs and information. Very useful to all visitors to the beach.

Fish J.D. and S. Fish. A Students Guide to the Seashore (3rd edition). Cambridge University Press, pp 527, 2011
Undoubtedly the most comprehensive guide to life on the seashore. Includes fish but not seabirds or terrestrial plants. It is particularly valuable because most species are shown with line drawings rather than photographs which allow detail to be clearly depicted. An absolute must if one has more than a casual interest in the subject.

Buttivant, H. Rock Pool. Extraordinary encounters between the tides. September Publishing, pp 288, 2019
A lovely personal description of life in the inter-tidal zone written around 24 different animals. Full of anecdotes that expand one’s knowledge of the creatures there and stimulates one’s enthusiasm for rockpooling.

Wood, C. Sea Anemones and Corals of Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). Wild Nature Press, pp 160, 2013

Porter, J. Guide to Bryozoans and Hydroids of Britain and Ireland. Wild Nature Press, pp 143, 2012.

Bowen, S, C. Goodwin, D. Kipling and B. Picton. Sea Squirts and Sponges of Britain and Ireland. Wild Nature Press, pp 200, 2018.

Francis, StP., D. Bunker, J.A. Brodie, C.A. Maggs and A.R. Bunker. Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). Wild Nature Press, pp 312, 2017.

The above four books are a family produced by Seasearch and aimed at divers as well as rockpoolers. They each describe nearly all the different species in the class of animals and plants identified in the title. All are full of photos and introductory descriptions of the class using line drawings as well as photographs. Worth getting if you want access more detail than in more generalised books.

Wood, C. The Divers Guide to Marine Life of Britain and Ireland (2nd edition). Wild Nature Press, pp 312, 2018.
Very comprehensive book with many good photographs aimed at the diver and thus showing animals in their natural environment.

Hiscock, K. Exploring Britain’s Hidden World (a Natural History of Seabed Habitats). Wild Nature Press, pp 272, 2018.
Excellent and comprehensive description of marine life, and including a history of marine research and examination of topical issues by one of Britain’s most experienced diving marine biologists. Unlike other books, its chapters are divided by habitat rather than by species which gives a good insight into the ecology of the seabed and makes for very interesting reading.

Campbell, A.C., and J. Nicholls. The Hamlyn Guide to the Seashore and Shallow Seas of Britain and Europe. The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd, pp 320, 1976.
Although out of print this comprehensive guide has the advantage of using coloured drawings, as well as line drawings, which at times can provide a better description of creature than a photograph. The names of some species may have changed over time, but nevertheless worth getting hold of a second hand copy if possible.

Preston-Mafham, R. and M. Preston-Mafham. Collins Gem Seashore. HarperCollins Publishers, pp 256, 2003.
This pocket book has a surprisingly large number of the most common inter-tidal creatures and plants as well as terrestrial plants and seabirds given its small size. Worth keeping in the glove compartment, just in case something unexpected turns up.

Naylor, P. Marine Animals of the South West (2nd edition). Sound Diving Publications, pp 143, 2000
Paul Naylor’s book of animals underwater in their natural habitat is full of stunning photographs. A delight.

Plass, M. RSPB Handbook of The Seashore. Bloomsbury Publishing, pp 240, 2013.
An excellent handbook filled with some of the best archive photographs, and some engaging sketches, of the animals and algae that can be found on the shore.

Kay, P, and F. Dipper, Marine Fishes of Wales and adjacent waters. Marine Conservation Society, pp 256, 2009.
Some marvellous photographs and comprehensive descriptions, including many sketches, of local fish. Has the added bonus of including their Welsh names.

Woollett, L. Sea Journal. Zart Books, pp 167, 2016 and 2020.
A lovely book full of anecdotes and personal stories about the author’s relationship with the British coastline. Packed with beautiful and artistic photographs.

Archer-Thomson, J. and J. Cremona. Rocky Shores. British Wildlife Collection, Bloomsbury Publishing, pp 368, 2019. A fantastic book for anyone wanting to go beyond the simple identification of species to understanding their relationships and the ecology of rocky shores. Well written with lively anecdotes and excellent photographs. Should be top of your Xmas present list.

Other books:

Naylor, P. Great British Marine Animals. Sound Diving Publications, pp 235, 2003.