Discovering Rocky Shores

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: 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.

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.

How to Apply

Book Here

Please mention when enrolling in this Course!

Key Information




Field Studies Council




Environment, Marine Conservation


FSC Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom