Nature lovers are getting an exclusive peek at the weird and wonderful creatures living beneath the waves.
The recent stormy weather has seen all manner of sea creatures washed up on Sussex beaches – providing a valuable resource for ecologists.
Everything from the gruesome looking sea scorpion and spotted ray to stranded seals and dolphins could be seen along our coastline.
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Olle Alesson, marine officer from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “Obviously I would prefer these animals weren’t washed up, but we can learn a lot from them.
“It’s really interesting because you get a real feel for what is under the sea without having to go out there.
“Unfortunately a number of these creatures living close to the surface have been battered by the recent rough seas and washed up.”
Among the creatures already spotted is the sea scorpion.
The master of disguise was found by Mr Alesson underneath Brighton’s Palace Pier.
He said: “It’s fairly common on the south coast and lives close to the surface. However, they are rarely seen.”
He added: “The fish does not have scales, instead it is protected by bony plates just under the skin.
“They live in shallow waters and their blotchy colour varies to mimic their surroundings and can be dark red, brown, pink or purple.
“They are very well camouflaged and will hunt by resting on the seabed and waiting for their prey to come near enough before darting forward to swallow them.”
As well as whelks, cuttlefish and a variety of sea anemones, eggcases belonging to sharks and rays have also been spotted.
There are more than 16 species of sharks, skates and rays in British waters.
Mr Alesson explained that the location of the eggcases can be useful in determining their numbers and where they are located and breeding.
Stranded seal pups have also been reported following the stormy weather, with a large population known to be in Sussex waters.
Members of the public are advised not to approach the mammal which, contrary to popular belief, has large sharp teeth.
Instead it is advised the coastguard is called as soon a possible.
Mr Alesson added: “If anybody would like any help identifying any of the creatures they find, then they can contact the wildlife trust.”
Call 01273 492630 or Tweet www.twitter.com/SussexWildlife.
For more details visit sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk.