Solent Shore Study
Titchfield Haven Visitor Centre is located by Hill Head Harbour between the beaches at Meon Shore and Hill Head. These beaches are gently shelving and are a mixture of shingle and sand with extensive mudflats at low tide. Pools created at the foot of groins and around boulders on the beach support sea life associated with rocky shores.
There is easy access to both beaches, especially the beach at Hill Head where there is a slipway down to the shore from the car park by the Sailing Club.
The shoreline of the Solent is special because it displays both estuarine and marine characteristics. This is because way back in time the Solent was a giant river valley flowing out to sea in the east near Portsmouth. In the west the Isle of Wight was joined to the mainland by a ridge of chalk hills. As sea levels rose after the last Ice Age, the sea breached this ridge of hills forming the Needles on the Isle of Wight and Old Harry Rocks on the Purbecks near Swanage in Dorset.
The shape and position of the Isle of Wight leads to the unique phenomenon of adding two extra high tides along the Solent. As long shore drift travels west to east, water is funnelled down the Solent creating a circular current that travels around the Isle of Wight then back down the Solent again. This means that just over an hour after each high tide there is second small rise in water levels.
- Seashore Worksheet 228kb pdf
The depth of the study depends upon the age and ability of the group. With older age groups some of the geological history can be introduced plus the concept of zonation - how the numbers and diversity of sea creatures varies along the beach profile.
Below is described the standard 'seashore safari' style format which is suitable for all ages.
Following an introductory talk, the children are split into small groups of 2 or 3 and each group is given a white plastic tray and nets. Before venturing further down the shore, the children study the high tide zone where there is a large amount of sea shells and seaweeds of varying shapes and colours. These can be collected and, if allowed, are something children can take back to class with them. The groups then move into the low tide zone where pools are exposed. Most living creatures take shelter at low tide under rocks and boulders. With the assistance of adults, children can move these rocks to reveal the animals hiding underneath. Larger creatures can be caught in nets whereas smaller ones can be scooped into trays by hand.
A summarising talk highlights key facts about the creatures found.
Subject AreaThe close hands-on study of marine life. Creatures that may be found include shore crabs, common shrimps, common prawns, sea slaters, sea lice, chitons, sea anemones, shannies, gobies, sand hoppers, ragworms, lugworms.
- Adaptations - seashores are one of the harshest environments in the natural world with creatures exposed to the sun and battered by waves twice a day. Looking at sea shells, for example, is simple way of illustrating how many creatures have adapted to cope with these conditions.
- Food Chains - the links of a foodchain can be illustrated on the shore, for example, seaweed - limpet - dog whelk - seagull.
- Art - children can draw what they find or shells can be taken back to the classroom for follow-on work.
Please allow between 1 and 1½ hours for the Solent Shore Study.
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