The past 50 or so years have seen an enormous increase in our knowledge of what lives in the hidden world beneath our seas. Scuba diving in particular, including work by the statutory nature-conservation bodies and by volunteer divers through the Seasearch programme, has revealed the character of seabed marine life in our shallow seas. In this article, Keith Hiscock explores in detail, the history, research, management and the future of these diverse marine communities.
Until the end of the 19th century, study of our seabeds was limited to collecting samples by dredge in order to list the species found. Whatever successes the dredging campaigns achieved, British naturalists were frustrated in their exploration of the shallow seas.