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The Seashore

Rocky Shore Trail
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The Ballantine's Exposure Scale

This is a very use tool to help indicate the level of wave action on a rocky shore. The amount of waves on any shore will vary from day to day and season to season, typically stormiest in the spring and autumn. Bill Ballantine (when he worked at Dale Fort many years ago) came up with the idea of using species as indicators. After all they are stuck on the shore come rain or shine (or wave action for that matter.

Reproduced from Ballantine, W.J. (1961) Field Studies 1. (Paper available from FSC Publications)

Reproduced from Ballantine, W.J. (1961) Field Studies 1. (Paper available from FSC Publications)

Above is the basic scale from Bill's paper. It is an 8-point scale where 1 is very exposed to wave action and 8 is very sheltered. The latter is difficult to find, say, in the back end of a sea loch in western Scotland. A B.E.S. 1 would be a rocky shore in the UK facing directly into the Atlantic with a fetch through to America.

Two different shores: A Comparison

Two different shores: Left, BES 1 shore from west coast of Ireland. Note the dominance of species that can hang on, e.g. barnacles, and thongweed and dabberlocks in the water (E.L.W.S.). Right, part of a B.E.S. 8 shore in Scotland. Note the dominance of seaweed and minimal sign of barnacles.

Using this scale students can control experiments better that involve more than one shore.


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