Devil's Kitchen © Keith HiscockLundy has been a popular destination for marine naturalists since the middle of the 19th century. The shores were especially thoroughly surveyed by Leslie and Clare Harvey in the late 1940s but discovering its underwater treasures awaited the advent of scuba diving in the late 1960s.

The shores are almost entirely rock and are very varied in character; from those exposed to extremely strong wave action to those of the much more sheltered Landing Bay. Most are inaccessible except by boat but the Landing Bay and the area south of Rat Island known as ‘Devil’s Kitchen’ are easily visited. Here the visitor can find a rich variety of seaweeds especially in rockpools and highlights such as the Snakelocks and Strawberry Anemones. Spend some time looking into rockpools – there are darting fish and cushion stars to see. On the lowest tides, under overhangs and in pools, the lucky visitor may find a Lundy speciality – the nationally scarce Scarlet and Gold Star Coral as well as jewel anemones and pendulous colonies of sea squirts.

Snakelocks Anemone (Anemonia viridis) © Keith Hiscock Strawberry Anemone (Actinia fragacea) © Keith Hiscock Scarlet and Gold Star Coral (Balanophyllia regia) © Keith HiscockIt was in the early 1970s that the richness of Lundy’s underwater life revealed itself to marine biologists diving around the island. The underwater topography is rugged with steep rock slopes, overhangs and canyons. Lundy hosts all five species of shallow water stony corals found around Britain as well as colourful sponges, soft corals and sea fans.

A snorkeler encounters a seal (or, is it the other way around) at Devil’s Kitchen. © Keith Hiscock Snorkel into Lundy’s shallow kelp forests. Here, north of Rat Island, a high proportion of the plants are golden kelp, a warm water species at their northern limit of distribution at Lundy. © Keith Hiscock The spectacularly colourful sunset cup coral was discovered in British waters for the first time at Lundy in September 1969. The stony skeleton is about the size of a thimble. © Keith Hiscock

The shores and shallow seas around Lundy are protected by several designations and a zoning scheme has been established that illustrates what is permitted or not and where.Since the establishment of a no-take zone off the east coast, European (blue) Lobsters have thrived there and, now that the taking of endangered Spiny Lobsters is banned all around Lundy, those able to venture beneath the waves are likely to see this charismatic species. The island's waters are a playground for seals (see the section on mammals) and many divers come to Lundy specifically to spend time with them.

You can see more by snorkelling, especially fish and seals in amongst the kelp forest. But, do be careful not to venture into the areas where there are strong currents.

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Much of what we know about marine ecology has been established from research undertaken at Lundy. There is still much to learn and your observations, recorded in the LFS logbook in the Tavern, could help us better understand what is where and when it is there.

Text by Keith Hiscock

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