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Estuaries, Harbours and Lagoons

Aquatonics Ltd have surveyed most of the major estuaries in England, including the Humber, Thames, Southampton Water and Severn estuary. In addition we have surveyed a wide range of smaller estuaries (Axe, Dart, Exe, Fal, Hayle, Helford, Medina, Kingsbridge, Otter, Plym, Taw-Torridge) ports, harbours and some lagoons. The full list is below:

Axe estuary

Beauly Firth


Blackpool beach

Burry Port

Chesil Beach

Clacton beach

Clyde estuary

Dart estuary (Dartmouth, Kingswear, Old Mill Creek, Noss on Dart)

Eastbourne (assessment of disposal of sediments dredged from Sovereign Harbour to an offshore site)

Exe estuary

Fal estuary

Folkestone Harbour

Great Ouse estuary

Hayle esuary (Harbour, Penpol, Lelant Water, Carnsew & Copperhouse Pool)


Humber estuary

Kingsbridge estuary

Lulworth Cove

Medina estuary


Moray Firth

Orwell estuary



Plymouth Harbour

Portland Harbour

Portsmouth Harbour

Salcombe estuary


Tees estuary

Thames estuary inner (Brentford, Wandsworth, Battersea, Greenwich)

Thames estuary middle and outer (Erith, Southend-Maplin)

The Fleet

Truro river estuary

Severn estuary

Southampton Water

Ventnor beach


West Bay beach


Aquatonics have worked in several offshore areas, mainly in the UK, but with some international experience. The regions we have worked in include:

English Channel
Bristol Channel
North Cornwall
Lyme Bay
North Sea
Irish Sea

Liverpool Bay
Channel Islands
Trinidad & Tobago
Hong Kong


Aquatonics Ltd are familiar with the legislation protecting rare or threatened estuarine and marine species. We have held a Licence from Natural England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act for surveying the tentacled lagoon worm (Alkmaria romijni) in the Dart estuary. Aquatonics Ltd can advise on whether it is necessary to undertake special surveys for the following:

Alosa fallax Twaite shad

Alosa alosa Allis shad

Cetorhinus maximus Basking shark

Gobius cobitis Giant goby

Gobius couchii Couch's goby

Atrina fragilis Fan mussel

Clavopsella navis Marine hydroid

Alkmaria romijni Tentacled lagoon worm


Many of the common estuarine invertebrates are relatively recent additions to the UK fauna. Some have been brought in deliberately:

Soft-shelled clam, Mya arenaria

American hard-shelled clam, Mercenaria mercenaria

Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas

Others may have come in ballast water (eg American jack-knife clam, Ensis americanus) or unintentionally with other species (eg American oyster drill, Urosalpinx cinerea). Some species (eg slipper limpet, Crepidula fornicata) can form dense populations, competing with native fauna and out-competing some native species. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee has produced a report on introduced marine species in the UK:

Non-native marine species in British waters: a review and directory. Eno, NC, Clark, RA and Sanderson, WG (editors). JNCC, Peterborough. 1997.

In our surveys of Southampton Water (a hot spot for introduced species) for ABP Southampton, Aquatonics has found two species new to the UK. One is a small sabellid polychaete worm called Desdemona ornata and the other is an amphipod crustacean called Grandidierella japonica. Details of these new records can be found in:

Smith, P R J, Perrett, J, Garwood, P and Moore, G (1999). Two additions to the UK marine fauna: Desdemona ornata Banse, 1957 (Polychaeta, Sabellidae) and Grandidierella japonica Stephensen, 1938 (Amphipoda, Gammaridea). Newsletter of the Porcupine Natural History Society, p 8-11, Number 2, July 1999. Available here as a pdf.


Three of the most important invertebrate fisheries in UK estuaries are cockles (Cerastoderma edule), mussels (Mytilus edulis) and brown shrimps (Crangon crangon). Aquatonics has reviewed the available ecological and fishery data for all three species as part of the studies of the Wash (client Essex and Suffolk Water). These reports are available from Aquatonics for 20 each (to cover printing and postage):

Cockle Ecology and Fisheries

Mussel Ecology and Fisheries

Brown Shrimp Ecology and Fisheries

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