15 surprising facts and statistics about beaches

Learn something new…

1. In the UK, no one lives more than 80 miles from the beach.

2.Beach foraging is becoming increasingly popular and is a great way to get free food, have an adventure and keep an eye on your carbon footprint. Sea spinach, 20 varieties of edible seaweed and rock samphire can all be found along the coast.

3. The sand lizard is Wales’ rarest reptile. It was once common along the north Wales coast, but became extinct during the 1960’s, a result of development and sea defence work. It has now been reintroduced and a breeding population has been established on several coastal dunes.

4. Not just for eating, seaweed is now being used in sun cream. Palythine, an amino acid found in seaweed can protect against UV radiation in human skin cells. Unlike most other suncreams, most seaweed based sun creams won’t pollute our seas or it’s wildlife.

5. Being by the sea really is good for you. Research shows that spending time at the coast offers improved air conditions, higher vitamin D intake and makes you more likely to be physically active.

6.The sunfish is the biggest boned fish in the world. Although generally found in tropical waters around the equator, they have been spotted in recent years in British seas. Sunfish can be up to 14 feet tall and 10 feet in length, weighing up to a whopping 5,000 pounds! Two were spotted by Tenby boat skippers in 2018.

7.There are 25 species of seagulls. The herring gull is the most commonly seen on UK beaches. Despite being considered a pest by many, the herring gull is critically endangered. Their numbers have sadly dropped by over 70% since the 1960’s. This is thought to be down to overfishing, development of coastal areas and an increase in botulism poisoning amongst the birds.

8. London used to have a beach. In 1934, 1,500 tons of sand were put on the mudflats between St.Katherine’s steps and the Tower of London. People were able to play on the beach until 1971 when the pollution in the water was deemed unsafe for bathing. Fancy a cleaner beach experience? Wales has the most blue flag beaches in the UK!

9. There are 5 different true dolphin species in the UK. Bottlenose, Common, Striped, Atlantic White-Sided and White Beaked Dolphins. Our very own Cardigan bay is one of only two known breeding areas for the Bottlenose Dolphin.

10. For every one square metre of beach there is about 163 billion grains of sand.

11. There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world.

12. Fish are essential to the ocean’s ecosystem. Reducing or cutting out fish from our diets will support our seas as well as reduce our carbon emissions. Eating farmed fish once or twice a week contributes 143kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions.

13. The beach is good for your child’s health. The beach offers unstructured play, which encourages creativity, problem solving and nurtures the imagination. Unstructured play with water also helps children to form their first understandings and concepts of maths and science. For example when they tip water from a small container into a larger one, they are looking at the mathematical concepts of measurement and volume.

14. Vitamin D (also known as ‘Vitamin Sea’) is linked to serotonin production in your brain. Without vitamin D your body cannot properly absorb things like calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D deficiency affects around 50% of people worldwide. Enjoying the sun at the beach for just 20 minutes can give you your daily required amount of vitamin D (between 1,000 and 2,000 IU).

15. Plastics such as cigarette filters, plastic bottles, cling film and food packaging are causing catastrophic damage to our seas and wildlife. Please, help us to keep our beaches amazing and be aware of your plastic use and consumption. Take three for the sea is a great initiative to help clean up our beaches and ensure that we can enjoy all the magic of the beach for generations to come.