The pier and its surrounding waters host a surprising variety of marine and birdlife, offering visitors a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems thriving along the Thames estuary.
The surrounding estuary and mudflats provide essential feeding grounds and resting areas for many birds throughout the year. At low tide, wading birds such as curlews, oystercatchers, turnstones and sandpipers probe the exposed mudflats in search of worms and other small creatures hiding beneath the surface.
During the winter months, the estuary becomes a vital haven for migratory birds. Flocks of Brent geese, dunlins, and godwits descend upon the mudflats, fuelling up on nutrients before continuing their journeys to breeding and wintering grounds across Europe and beyond.
Lucky visitors to Southend Pier may catch sight of seals bobbing in the water in the winter months. Harbour or common seals and grey seals are the two species commonly encountered in the waters off the pier. Seals can most often be spotted around high tide as they feast on schools of fish sheltering among the pilings of the pier.
While encounters with seals are undoubtedly a highlight for many visitors, it's essential to remember to observe these wild animals from a respectful distance and do not approach or feed them. Seals, like all wildlife, require space and excessive disturbance can disrupt their natural behaviours and cause them unnecessary stress. Seals occasionally venture onto the pier itself, if you spot a seal on the pier, please inform a member of staff.
More advice on what to do if you find a seal can be found on the British Divers Marine Life Rescue website.