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Wash Designations & Glossary

Facts About The Wash

• The Wash is a shallow bay on the east coast of England that opens into the North Sea. It is about 20kms wide and 30kms long

• It’s a winter feeding ground for over 300,000 visiting water birds (waders and wildfowl) – more than any other place in the UK

• It’s the largest estuary system in the UK

• It’s a vital rest and refuelling point for birds flying to and from the Arctic, Siberia, Africa and other places during spring and autumn

• Five rivers flow into The Wash – the Steeping, Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse

• The Wash is home to more common seals than anywhere else in the UK and baby seals are born on the sandbanks during the summer

• The rivers collect water draining from over 10% of England’s land

• Beneath the surface, the waters of The Wash are teeming with life – including coral forming worms, starfish, crabs, cockles and sea anemones

• There are lots of types of habitats for wild plants and animals: saltmarshes, saline lagoons, shingle banks and sand dunes, mudflats and saltwater to name a few

• At the highest tide of the year the surface of the water covers 700km2

• It’s an important nursery area for many fish including cod, skate and bass

• When the tide is at its lowest the water surface shrinks to 350km2, revealing sand and mud banks that cover nearly half the bay

• It has the second largest area of intertidal (uncovered when the tide goes out) mudflats in Britain

People have lived by The Wash for centuries, drawn here by fertile arable land, the bountiful seashore and fisheries. Land and sea continue to provide livelihoods for communities today.

From muddy tidal creeks to rolling sand dunes; from farms to ports - there is great diversity here. A suite of coastal and marine habitats is found; where internationally important mudflats, sandbanks and saltmarshes support an array of animals and plants including common seals, samphire and over 300,000 water birds. Beneath The Wash lies a myraid of corals, worms and sea anemones.

Whilst it is remote, factors from far away influence The Wash. The rivers that flow into it bring water that fell as rain upon more than a tenth of England. Great quantities of North Sea flow in and out of the mouth of The wash every day. It is not easy to define the boundaries of The Wash, especially where the land meets the sea.