Sea Slater

Sea Slater ©Mark Robinson

Sea slater

Scientific name: Ligia oceanica
These little critters are related to the woodlice you find in your garden and play a very important role on rocky shores.

Species information

Statistics

Length: up to 3cm Average Lifespan: 2.5 years

Conservation status

Common

When to see

January to December

About

The Sea slater is a type of crustacean, closely related to the woodlouse. Also known as the Sea roach, they live on rocky shores all around the UK. They hide away in crevices and under rocks during the day and come out at night to feed.
Like the terrestrial woodlouse, they play an important role in the ecosystem. They are detritivores and munch on decaying material like seaweed; this helps break it down and increase the surface area for decomposition by bacteria and fungi. The best time to look for Sea Slaters is late in the evening or at night, when they leave their hidey-holes in search of food.

How to identify

Turn over rocks on the seashore and this is the woodlouse-like creature you may find. Up to 3cm long, it has a grey oval, segmented and flattened body with long antennae and lots of legs - just like its well-known terrestrial relative. It also has very large, black eyes.

Distribution

Found around all UK coasts.

Did you know?

Sea slaters have gills - but don't live underwater! That's why you find them in damp environments, like in crevices or under rocks.

How people can help

Take part in a beach clean to remove strandline litter by hand. This has a much lower impact than mechanical beach cleaning. If organising a beach clean, encourage participants to leave natural debris on the beach - including decaying/dry seaweed. It is an important part of the ecosystem! If possible, remove the litter from the seaweed (we know it's tough when it's all tangled up!) and leave the seaweed on the beach. When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any rocks you turn over, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.