100 Species

Planning ahead, our next idea is a multi media project looking at 100 + marine species from the Firth of Forth including new arrivals, extinct species and  long term residents.

We would like to connect volunteer groups or school classes with some scientist and artist time, to help them explore and discover information about their species, then create it in multidimensional form – any format: pottery; wool; wood; fabric; metal; whatever inspires! But all have to be the same size (7cm cubed)

Special thanks to our wonderful volunteers who have helped by creating these prototype examples, all made approximately the same size, giving equal importance to massive whales and microscopic plankton.

Enjoy a taste of things to come!

Red Knot

Calidris canutus


(aged 9)

  • Flocks of knots can be up to 100,000 in size.
  • Breeding in the far north of Canada, Europe and Russia, they migrate from the Arctic between August and May. 
  • They fly together in a dance-like way called a murmuration.
  • As you can see in my model, there are lots of birds coming in to land to feed in the muddy waters and shorelines.
  • They are a lovely silver grey with white underneath.
  • Their lifespan can be up to 7 years, and when born they are chunky and have stubby green legs.

Forth note: As one of the longest distance migrants in the animal kingdom, the Forth is an internationally important wintering site for long distance travellers like these.

Leatherback Turtle

Dermochelys coriacia

Andrew Clowe

  • Weighing up to 1.5 tonnes in weight, leatherback turtles are the largest turtles in the World.
  • They are the only warm blooded turtle of all the turtle species.
  • In the UK, sightings of the species occur mainly during the summer and autumn months, and are almost certainly the result of this deliberate migratory journey as the turtles follow swarms of their favourite prey, the jelly fish.
  • In November 2001, a turtle turned up in the upper Firth of Forth, Central Scotland. It was found to be huge, fit and healthy and had no wish to be rescued. Left to its own devices, it left the Forth under its own steam.

Forth note: In November 2001, a turtle turned up in the upper Firth of Forth, Central Scotland. It was found to be huge, fit and healthy  and had no wish to be rescued. Left to its own devices, it left the Forth under its own steam.

Twaite Shad Fish

Alosa fallax

Jennie Loudon

  • This fish is a member of the herring family
  • This species returns from the sea to spawn in spring, usually between April and June, hence the alternative name of ‘May fish’. 
  • The majority of adults die after spawning, though UK populations appear to have an unusually high proportion of repeat spawners – up to 25%.
  • After hatching the fry develop and slowly drift downstream. 
  • Population declines in many parts of Europe have been attributed to pollution, overfishing and migratory route obstructions.

Forth note: Twaite shad are now rare in the Firth of Forth and are a protected species.

Horse Mussel

Modiolus modiolus

Saskia Gavin

  • The horse mussel is a large mussel growing to 22 cm (9ins). 
  • In Scottish Gaelic, the species is called ‘clabaidh-dubha’ (‘clabby doos’), meaning ‘big black mouths’.
  • It is found growing on hard substrates including shells and stones.
  • By the time they reach about 4 cm long, at an age of 4 years, individuals are too large and tough to be predated upon by starfish, whelk and crabs.
  • Horse mussels can form dense raised beds down to around 100m depth, providing refuge for a wide variety of species. This is just one of several ecosystem services that horse mussel beds provide, including water filtration and locking up carbon.
  • The mussels are extremely long-lived (up to 50 years) and are therefore very slow to recover from damage or disturbance.

Forth note: Horse mussel beds are listed as priority marine habitats, and are a Priority Marine Feature in Scottish waters.

Brittle Star

Amphipholis squamata

Ellis Tree

  • The small Brittle star, Amphipholis squamata, also known as ‘brooding snake star’ is related to the starfish.
  • This Brittle star lives in the intertidal zone in shallow water, and can be found under large stones and shells,
  • It walks around on its long, fragile spiny arms, and needs to be handled very carefully as its arms easily break off.