Rocky Shores are one of the most dynamic, stressful and interesting habitats on the planet, they exhibit a strong environmental gradient and the distribution of the organisms reflects this.

In this course, we can identify the inhabitants of this fascinating environment and see how they are adapted to living where they do. We will examine the animals, seaweeds and lichens present in an attempt to gain an understanding of how the whole rocky shore ecosystem works. Identification will be based on characteristics that are visible in the field with nothing more sophisticated than a hand lens. Previous knowledge and experience are not required but would certainly do no harm!

This course will include:

  • Identification techniques of rocky shores and the species which inhabit them.
  • Classroom-based learning of the ecology of rocky shores.
  • Field practice of techniques.

We anticipate that this course will run with between 8 and 16 participants.

The two shores we hope to explore are within walking distance of the Centre. By its very nature, the course involves some walking over rocks which will be uneven and may be slippery.

If you are 18-25, you can get £50 off this course thanks to the Generation Green project. Click here to find out more and to get your voucher code.

Tutor: John Archer-Thomson

For many years John Archer-Thomson was Assistant Head of Centre at FSC Dale Fort. He is now working as a freelance coastal ecologist, writer and photographer and runs a number of courses at Dale Fort each year. He co-wrote Rocky Shores, Volume 7 in Bloomsbury’s British Wildlife Collection.
  • Rocky shore at low tide
  • Marloes Sands
  • Flat periwinkles mimicking gas bladders on Bladder Wrack
  • Dogwhelks with eggs
  • Barnacles and periwinkles

Please note, the fee is for tuition and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at FSC Dale Fort, please email [email protected]

Example Timetable

Day 1

There will be an introduction to the shore environment and the ways in which environmental factors might affect inter-tidal inhabitants. We will visit a nearby sheltered rocky shore and use a simple method to explore which organisms live in each of the four zones, namely the Splash Zone, Upper Shore, Middle Shore and Lower Shore. Results will be recorded so that we can discuss the zonation patterns observed back at the Centre (after tea and cake).

Day 2

On this day we hope to visit an exposed rocky shore, weather permitting. In this way, we can see how increased wave action affects the rocky shore community and the organisms’ distribution and abundance. Ballantine’s Exposure Scale can be used to assess the shore’s exposure grade. Analysis of these results will allow us to compare sheltered and exposed shore communities and offer possible explanations for any differences observed.

If you have booked accommodation at the centre, please arrive between 8:30am and 9:45am on arrival day, allowing time to settle into your room before the course begins.

If you are a non-resident, please arrive by 9:45am.

The course will end at 17:00pm on the last day and we ask that rooms are vacated by 9.30am.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Up to 6 hours of tuition a day.
  • Tea and coffee making facilities available throughout the day.
  • Use of resources and facilities including workrooms and the centre grounds.

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are 18-25, you can get £50 off this course thanks to the Generation Green project. Click here to find out more and to get your voucher code.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Warm clothing.
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (can be borrowed from Centre).
  • Outdoor footwear – sturdy shoes or boots and wellies, these might get wet.
  • Day rucksack.
  • Warm hat and gloves for inclement weather and sunhat and sun cream for sunny days.
  • Water bottles and/or thermos flask.
  • A hand lens would be useful, we have some at the Centre for you to borrow.