We invite you to take part in our new project: 100 species.
The Firth of Forth is teeming with life. From tiny microscopic bacteria to majestic whales, life thrives on our coast and beneath the waves.
The 100 species project celebrates the vast biodiversity of the Firth of Forth. This project sits within Restoration Forth, a conservation partnership that aims to restore seagrass and oyster habitats in the Firth of Forth. Learn more about Restoration Forth and our role here.
We now invite you to participate in this exciting new undertaking. Restoration Forth collaborators have put together a curated list of 100 species that call the Forth their home. As a conservation hub, the Scottish Seabird Centre has been allocated a subset of these species which are listed below. We are offering you the chance to raise awareness about these species and their habitats, by choosing one of these species and creating a model. Your model must then be immortalised in photo, which may then be selected to be displayed in a travelling exhibition, moving across different locations of the Firth of Forth in 2023 (please note we can't guarantee selection). Species models can be created from an unlimited range of mediums; paint, wool, clay, sand, words, film, anything goes! This is your opportunity to be creative. You could make a sand sculpture of a gannet or write a poem about seaweed! Let your imagination run free.
For full instructions in how to participate, and some examples, follow this link . Species models can be submitted by individuals or groups (school class, club, family) and you are welcome to choose more than one species. The deadline for submitting your photograph has now been extended to the 30th of June 2023.
Watch the submissions roll in on this live map!
We are looking for volunteers to bring the following species to life...
Gannet Morus bassanus
The Northern gannet is the biggest seabird that can be seen from our coastal shores. The gannet has a long neck and is mostly white all over. The head has a yellow tinge, and the wings have black edges. They have black markings around the eyes and mouth with a grey bill. The Bass Rock in North Berwick has the biggest Northern gannet colony in the world.
Moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita
A common sighting along our coastline, these graceful creatures are mostly made of water. Never fear if you spot one, they don't sting humans. If you see a moon jellyfish washed ashore on your favourite beach, be sure to report your sightings to the Marine Conservation Society to participate in their national survey of jellyfish populations!
Peacock worm Sabella pavonina
The peacock worm is a master builder. This marine polychaete worm creates a little house, its tube, out mud held together by mucus. Most of the time, the worm extends its feathery tentacles to catch tasty particles. But at the first sign of trouble, it retracts straight back in to safety. What a sight!
Northern comb jelly Beroe cucumis
Com jellies are truly mesmerising. They are sack-like jellyfish that can grow up tp 15cm in length. They have rows on cilia along their body that help them propel thewmselves in the water. These refract the light, putting on a spectacular rainbow effect display. They are predators and typically eat other species of comb jellies.
Bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus
A brown seaweed which is greenish brown in colour. Bladder wrack is identifiable for the bubble-like air bladders at the end of each frond. These bladders often appear in pairs. This seaweed is an important habitat and food source for several marine animals.
Common starfish Asterias rubens
As the name suggests the common starfish is the most common starfish in our seas. It varies in size dependent on food availability but can grow up to 52cm in diameter. Typical of starfish, it has 5 arms, these are thick and when active the tips will be curved upwards. The common starfish comes in many different colours but are often brown or orange. You can usually find this starfish on mussel beds.
Cod Gadus morhua
The Atlantic Cod can reach 120cm in length and is distinct for its barbel which hangs down from its chin looking like a whisker. The fish has a clearly visible lateral line, which forms a white stripe along the side of the body. Colouring is yellowish green but often appears brown due to the fish’s dark spots. The belly is silver with no spots. Cod is an important species commercially and often features on the menu in fish and chip shops. Sadly, it is a declining species and under threat from overfishing.
Shredded carrot sponge Amphilectus fucorum
This sponge is usually coloured orange to dark red, but the shape can vary between individual sponges. Its most recognisable form is that of long, thin branches which gives it the shredded carrot look. Often found amongst kelp.
Oarweed Laminaria digitata
Oarweed is a seaweed species which can be found when out rockpooling, particularly at very low tides. The oarweed grows on hard surfaces such as rocks, attaching with the holdfast (the root structure). Being a brown seaweed, oarweed has a glossy brown colouration and grows in 3-8 broad blades. This is a large seaweed which can reach up to 2m. Not to be confused with cuvie, oarweed is flexible whereas cuvie is rigid and often covered with other seaweeds.
Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncates
The common bottlenose dolphins are the biggest species of the beaked dolphins. Additionally, the bottlenose dolphins found in the Firth of Forth are the largest bottlenose dolphins in the world, reaching around 4m in length. This is because they have more blubber to protect them from the colder waters and therefore bigger bodies to support this blubber. The common bottlenose dolphin is dark grey over the head and back and fades to lighter grey to white on the underside. The fin on their back is pointy and hooked over.
Plaice Pleuronectes platessa
The European plaice is an oval shaped flatfish which has been recorded to reach 90cm in length. One side of the fish is coloured dark green to brown with orange spots, whilst the other side of the fish is white. The plaice can however change colour to help with camouflage when it buries in the sand or mud to hide from predators and catch prey. However, the orange spots on their body never disappear. The eyes are on the coloured side of the body.
Wakame Undaria pinnatifida
Wakame is a non-native species to the Firth of Forth, originally from the Pacific Ocean, and can outcompete native macroalgae species. The seaweed is green-brown in colour with a wavy holdfast (the attachment used to stay on substrate). The stipe (the trunk like structure) also has edges making it look frilly and the edges of the blades are also wavy. Wakame can grow to be 3 metres high.
Mackerel Scomber scombrus
Though usually 30cm in length, some individuals have been found to reach 60cm. This fish is thin and long. It is metallic blue with a silvery white belly and has black lines along the top of the body. The mackerel is very important commercially.
Bivalve Abra alba (Wood)
Being a bivalve, the Abra alba has two shells. These appear glossy white and have concentric lines on the outside. Inside the shell is smooth with scaring from the mantle. The shells are oval shaped and are held together by a brown ligament which can be seen from the outside.
European sea sturgeon Acipenser sturio
The European Sea sturgeon is brownish green and has a white belly. The pointed face has several barbels (whisker like structures) which are used for detecting and catching prey. The fish can be as long as 6m and is identified by the bony plates on its back which number up to 16. Unfortunately, the European sea sturgeon is critically endangered. While it used to be found in Scottish waters, it is now functionally extinct in the Firth of Forth and has a very restricted habitat.
Native oyster Ostrea edulis
Oyster shells are usually oval, or pear shaped, with one shell (the flatter one) fitting within the other (concave) shell. The shells are rough in texture, coloured yellow with brown to blue concentric lines. The native oyster which was once abundant in the Firth of Forth is now extinct here. This is due to overexploitation since native oysters were an important food source. Restoration Forth aims to bring back native oysters to the Firth of Forth.
Seagrass or eelgrass Zostera noltii & Zostera marina
Seagrasses are the world’s only marine flowering plants. Their incredible adaptations have allowed them to successfully colonise all continents except for Antarctica. Seagrasses have been labelled as “ecosystem engineers”; they create lush habitats that host a huge variety of fish species, small invertebrates, burrowing anenomes, urchins and bivalve molluscs. Aside from creating biodiversity hotspots, seagrass meadows also efficiently absorb large amounts of carbon dissolved in our oceans in a process described as “blue carbon”. Here in Scotland, we can spot 2 species of seagrass, Zostera marina and Zostera noltii. Restoration Forth aims to enhance seagrass meadows in the Firth of Forth.