Langstone and Chichester Harbours are situated on the south coast of England between Portsmouth and the Witterings. These large, tidal estuarine basins are linked by a stretch of water that separates Hayling Island from the mainland. They are biologically and geologically important, and fall under various legal protections with Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Local Nature Reserve designations. They include important intertidal mudflats, saltmarsh, sand and shingle spits, as well as dunes supporting reedbeds, and support a wealth of wildlife.
Large populations of wildfowl and waders feed on the mudflats, and the harbours are of international importance for the huge number of breeding seabirds and overwintering wildfowl that reside in and visit the area throughout the year. As many as 40,000 birds may visit Langstone Harbour over the winter months. Species of bird that can be seen in the harbours include Brent Geese, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlins, Plovers, Little Egrets and Terns.
The two harbours are also lucky enough to regularly host a population of Common Seals that live in the Solent. There is one ‘haul-out’ site in Chichester Harbour, and one in Langstone Harbour, both are regularly used by the seals. It is advised that we all give the seals a wide berth of at least 100m if possible, to avoid disturbing them – the team at Chichester Harbour Conservancy has created an excellent Seal Code of Conduct, which you can see here.
Fish and Invertebrates
The Harbours are home to a wide range of species of fish and invertebrates including bass, mackerel, sand eels, bream, pipefish and flounders. Anemones, crabs, molluscs and worms are found around the harbours and in early 2021 a new oyster hatchery was launched in Langstone as part of a project to restore the Solent’s oyster fishery.
Our harbours are also an important hub for recreational water sports – find out more here.