Intertidal Surveys

Specialist Expertise

Our intertidal expertise and capabilities extend from ecological field surveys to MNCR classification and GIS mapping of marine biotopes. MESL’s staff possess expertise in marine biology and coastal ecology and are experienced in surveying a variety of coastal habitats, including;

  •  Salt marshes
  •  Mudflats
  •  Seagrass beds
  •  Rocky shores
  •  Sandy beaches
  • Managed re-alignment sites


MESL has experience surveying intertidal areas throughout the UK as well as conducting first-class surveys on international coasts. We can offer 360 degree surveys covering:

  • Phase I GIS Mapping of Marine Biotopes
  • Phase II Infaunal, Contaminants and PSA sample collection.
  • Phase II infaunal analysis via our in house laboratory
  • Statistical analysis of data

Case Studies

Flamborough Head SSSI Sea Caves Monitoring

Client: Natural England

MESL was commissioned by Natural England to carry out a monitoring survey of the intertidal sea caves within the Flamborough Head Special Area of Conservation (SAC). In addition to being an SAC, the coastal cliffs of Flamborough Head belong to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA). The survey conducted by MESL was designed to assess the condition of the intertidal/partially submerged sea cave communities and to map the extent of the features found within the site. The cliffs in the area have eroded over the years to form a network of caves that house unique communities of lichens and algae which were recorded during phase 1 and phase 2 surveys. The caves were accessed on foot or by a small RIB which allowed for the identification of algal and faunal communities present in the caves. Photos and cave measurements were taken and technical drawings were completed in each cave to monitor any changes in the extent of the caves themselves or the biotopes present. MESL examined the resultant data alongside previously collected data and produced a comprehensive report, providing insight into the biological communities and physical status of the area of interest. Maps were produced using GIS to demonstrate the spatial distribution of the caves and these were accompanied by ArcGIS Metadata files, MEDIN metadata and Marine Recorder data.  

As a testament to the quality of the intertidal work conducted by MESL, the company have successfully delivered numerous intertidal monitoring projects for Natural England across the UK. These include Coquet to St Mary’s, Hartland Point to Tintagel, Dover to Folkstone and Chichester Harbour amongst many other locations, demonstrating our ability to obtain, standardise, analyse and compare infaunal community data with the aim of producing fit‐for‐purpose community distribution maps for Agencies responsible for managing protected areas. 

Berwickshire & North Northumberland Coast Intertidal Survey

Client: Natural England

Marine Ecological Surveys Limited (MESL) was commissioned by Natural England to conduct an intertidal monitoring survey of the Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast SAC. The full study was designed to facilitate a preliminary assessment of the site’s qualifying features condition using historic datasets, whilst providing data to help inform the management measures required to meet the conservation objectives of the site.

Verification Surveys of Intertidal Soft Sediments for Recommended Marine Conservation Zones

Client: Natural England

Natural England, in partnership with the Environment Agency, Cefas, and Defra, commissioned MESL to conduct intertidal surveys at various sites in the UK which have been recommended as Marine Conservation Zones. MESL gathered data on the presence and extent of; broad scale habitats, habitats of conservation interest and species of conservation interest within the rMCZ’s. MESL performed statistical analysis on these data, compiled reports containing detailed biotope maps characterising the rMCZ and provided an in-depth assessment of benthic infauna. MESL have also conducted SAC and SPA monitoring throughout the UK, from the Drigg Coast SAC to Portsmouth Harbour SPA. Through conducting these projects MESL has developed a catalogue of knowledge of various intertidal habitats and broadened survey skills that are essential for the provision of a leading service.

Assessment of the Impact of Mobile Dredge Platforms on Intertidal Communities.

Client: Seacore Ltd.

Complete quantitative evaluation of the impact of shallow water and intertidal dredging on sandy and rocky shore communities at an experimental dredge site on the North Cornwall coast. The results were used to assess the potential impacts of this method of mineral extraction elsewhere, including diamond mining off the coast of Namibia.

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