Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 18:13 UK

Underwater world brought to life

Undersea map
Underwater habitats off Sussex are defined by a gently sloping seabed

Amazing underwater landscapes have been brought to life on dry land at an event in a Brighton park.

Natural England re-created a local seabed at Breathing Places in Stanmer Park to show its unique identity.

A poll this year found most people are unaware of what lies on the seabed and almost half think it is generally or mostly barren in their region.

The Sussex seascape is distinguished by black sea bream nurseries in sandy areas around rocky areas and wrecks.

A spokesperson for Natural England said the sand off the Sussex coast made a perfect nest for the black sea bream with their large eyes and sharp teeth.

Karen Mitchell, Natural England's marine campaign manager, said: "If people realise what's out there, it raises awareness of what there is to protect.

Exotic creatures

"Each undersea region has its own special landscape variety, just as on land we have the North and South Downs, the Surrey heaths, the Chilterns, Dales and Cotswolds, the Breck's and the Norfolk Broads, the Pennine Hills and Peak District, or the Fells of the Lake District."

In the South East, the gently sloping seabed is covered in a mixture of sands and gravels, creating plains where fish hunt and where molluscs such as scallops live.

There are distinctive areas filled with sea caves, dramatic underwater cascades, deep sudden holes, sea grass beds, Kelp forests and meadows of anemones and sponges.

Corals, sea slugs, sea squirts and exotic creatures such as the voracious mantis-shrimp and seahorses also inhabit special landscapes within the region.

Whales and dolphins, including pilot whales, are also encountered offshore.




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