Sailors vs seahorses: the battle of Studland Bay

Posted: 07/12/2011 in all marine news

John Dyson – 

The discovery of seahorses has turned Studland Bay in Dorset into a battleground, as sailors, villagers and conservationists fight it out for control of the waters.

Nearly dawn in the English Channel. All night we have been sailing eastwards along the south coast; the lights of the Isle of Wight are coming up ahead, the Dorset cliffs form a massive wall on our left.

But there is a problem. An hour from now the tide carrying us in fine style up-Channel will reverse, so we will bounce up and down in wild seas and make zero progress. Nothing for it but to do what sailors have done for centuries – run for shelter, drop the hook and wait for the tide to turn in our favour.

Brushing the cliffs under the lighthouse on Anvil Point, we run past the town of Swanage and sweep round the broken pillar of white chalk known as Old Harry. Beyond lies smooth water dotted with slumbering boats. I drop anchor and put the kettle on. Thank heavens for Studland Bay.

Take the little ferry across the mouth of Poole harbour from Sandbanks, near Bournemouth, and you land on clean white sand stretching for nearly a mile, where picnickers play beach games. At its far end, the beach makes a sharp kink to the south and turns into cliffs of white chalk fringed with rock pools. This corner, perfectly sheltered from prevailing westerly winds, is Studland Bay.

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