Subtidal sand

Undersea beds of sand

Undersea beds of sand © Lin Baldock

Sandy seabeds usually occur on open coasts, and close inshore they are often disturbed by waves and tides.   Sand seascapes may appear like deserts, but close inspection can reveal flat fish and sand eels camouflaged on the surface of the sand, and worms and bivalves (with their paired, hinged shells) living within it.

In estuaries and marine inlets where the coast is more sheltered with smaller waves and the tidal currents are reduced, more silt will combine with the sand.  Different groups of animals are found here, with the exact types depending on the sand/mud mix. Heart urchins, razor shells and sea cucumbers can all be found in muddy sands.

For the official habitat definition please see the documents listed below.



European distribution

Widespread around the British Isles and mainland Europe.

Undersea beds of sand fact


Official habitat definition

EUNIS habitat A5.2 Sublittoral sand


Further information

JNCC Marine Habitat Classification

JNCC EUNIS habitat correlations table