Typical Wildlife of British Estuaries and Mud Flats

British estuaries are homes to many different species of wildlife. Birds frequent the wetland areas. Plants that prefer brackish water grow successfully in the estuary. Fish find refuge from the sea in estuaries. Mammals normally found in the oceans are frequent residents of the estuary and mudflats.

Estuary and mudflats

Estuaries have a connection to the ocean and to one or more other rivers. The water is a combination of salt and freshwater. Mudflats are areas near a tidal area. Some of the time seawater covers them. Morecambe Bay is an example of a British estuary. Estuaries are not very populated places in winter. The mudflats have many creatures that live in the mud. By digging in the mud, people can discover those worms, crabs, and other mud inhabiting creatures.


Migratory birds often use estuaries as stopover places in their journeys. Among the common species are flamingos, mallards, golden-eye, Brant’s and snow geese, swans, grebes, eagles, harriers, gulls, crows and ravens, and many shorebirds. Many of the birds use the mudflats to hunt for crabs.


Orchids are common plants that grow in British estuaries. Plants that live in the estuary have to withstand the high salt content in the waters.


Ray-finned fish find their way to estuaries. Members of the salmon and trout families, three-ribbed stickleback fish, frogfish, eeltail catfish, gobles, herring and sardine, and perchlike fishes all live in this environment. Ground and lemon sharks, rays, skates, sawfish, and stingrays swim in the waters of the estuaries. Many of these fish migrate and use the estuaries seasonally.


Bottle-nosed dolphins, beluga, bowhead and white whales, common and grey seals, raccoons, and harbour porpoises find the estuary a pleasant place to live. Moray Firth is the place to see the bottle-nosed dolphins. Rodents hide in the grasses and provide food for larger birds and mammals that frequent the wetland.


Buff-tailed bumblebees, hermit crabs, sea scorpions, and jellyfish are common and provide food for the larger animals in the wetlands. Hermit crabs run in the mudflats and rocky areas.

An estuary or mudflat may look desolate. By getting down to the water level, visitors will soon learn that the area is rich with many different species of wildlife. The estuaries provide a rich source of nutrients for birds, and fish can hide in the grasses that grow in the waters. The waters are harsh because they are a combination of fresh and seawater.