Somerset 'lowest tides for 200 years' show marine life

Sunstar, Minehead Image copyright Nigel Phillips
Image caption The sunstar will be one of the types of marine species that can be seen over the weekend

The lowest tides along the Somerset coast for 200 years will enable a glimpse of rarely seen marine species during the weekend, nature experts say.

The tides will drop by 36ft in places such as Minehead where the remains of submerged woodlands can be seen.

Nigel Phillips, of Somerset Wildlife Trust, said: "It was a bit like the Somerset Levels with Aldercar oak and birch woodlands."

Wildlife surveys will also be held over the weekend.

'Layers of peat'

Mr Phillips said: "Ten thousand years ago, looking across the sea to Wales, there was no sea - this was all woodland.

"Then, 6,000 years ago, the sea rose with the glaciers melting. It knocked over these trees quite quickly and they got embedded in the peat they were growing out of. On the low tide you will be able to see these layers of peat with twigs in them."

In Minehead, medieval fish traps - known as weirs - will also be uncovered by the low tides.

"They are 100m long stone walls converging to a point where there is a gap and in that gap people used to put nets so you could catch fish," said Mr Phillips.

"They were first established here in medieval times [between 500 and 1,000 years ago] and probably used here right until the 1920s and maybe until the Second World War."

The types of marine life that can be seen will include common and bloody Henry starfish, strawberry anemone, the common sunstar, pipefish - which are closely related to seahorses - cuttlefish and squid.

Image copyright Nigel Phillips
Image caption The remains of submerged ancient forests will also be seen during the weekend
Image copyright Nigel Phillips
Image caption A strawberry anemone is one of the rarely seen species along the Somerset coastline
Image copyright Libby Ross
Image caption The fish weirs date back to medieval times and may even have been used up to the 1940s

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