From rocky reefs encrusted with delicate and colourful invertebrates to golden green seagrass meadows on white sand, the marine life of the Isles of Scilly is unrivalled in vibrancy, diversity and health.
The seas around Scilly are clean and clear, and beneath the water (amongst hundreds of shipwrecks) lie bright gardens of jewel anemones, sponges, corals and sea fans, kelp forests and prairies of sea grass.
The seas are home to a huge range of creatures: Grey seals, Dolphins and Porpoises, Basking sharks and even more exotic visitors like Ocean sunfish and Leatherback turtles.
The marine environment worldwide is under constant and growing threat, and Scilly is no exception. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust works closely with the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to deal with massive quantities of floating plastic, rope and other debris swept in from the Atlantic.
The seas around Scilly are a valuable asset and our role is to help preserve this fragile and precious marine world through education.
Sponges can be found attached to rocks, plants and other animals and are primitive animals. There are rich sponge communities on many of the rocky reefs around Scilly.
These have stinging cells and include jellyfish, anemones and corals.
Marine worms often construct tubes to live in and feed with tentacles in the water column.
These are the armoured tanks of the sea with their skeleton on the outside of their body to protect their soft tissue inside. Lobsters, crabs, prawns and even barnacles fall into this group.
Sea shells, snails, slugs and clams are part of the largest group of marine animals called molluscs
These are colonial animals like sponges but are more advanced. They may live on other plants, animals or attach to rocks. Bryozoans often look like plants as they may be bushy or branched, they are also known as sea mats
The echinoderms - meaning spiny skin - are the starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.
Form colonies or grow as individuals; they are filter feeders that are live in a fixed position. If they're disturbed they squirt a jet of water by contracting their muscles quickly.
Fish, sharks and rays
There are many kinds of fish around Scilly, including sharks and their relatives the rays. There are also the bony fish like the tiny gobies that you can find in rockpools and the brightly coloured and inquisitive cuckoo wrasse.
Sea turtles are occasionally seen around the Isles of Scilly, normally offshore in deep water. Leatherback turtles may pass by Scilly on their migration routes as they search for shoals of jellyfish to eat.
The Isles of Scilly are visited by a number of marine mammals and is a stronghold for Grey seals. These charismatic and popular species play important roles in marine ecosystems and the economy of the islands.
Plants are important in the underwater world around Scilly. Seagrass is unusual because it is a type of flowering plant which can reproduce underwater – it has waterproof pollen!
By getting your feet wet you can discover the wonderful marine life that lives on our shores