Many of us have questions about the estuary and coastline. This is a space to share these unanswered questions. The questions here have been sent in to open up discussion and potentially find answers. None of us can know everything, no question is too small or too big, and some questions might have a few different potential answers! These questions could also be the subjects of existing or future research. We will look into the best way to investigate and get back to you as well as posting our progress in a blog entry on this website. To contribute a question go to the Things I’d Like to Know page.  If you would like to contribute answers please get in touch by email or send via the contact page.

Q. I often walk or cycle along the Exe estuary and am fascinated by the lines of wooden structures or some stone you can see at low tide in the mud especially around Lympstone. I have tried to walk out to see better what they are but sink in the mud. Could you please tell me what they are and why they are there.

Q. Seahorses do live in our estuary. I wonder what conditions suit them as I picture them holding onto the sea grass with their tails as the tide comes in and out! But the grass dries out at low tide so which environment do they actually live in?

Q. How much actual volume of water comes in and goes out of the estuary every tide? And would a small wooden raft (or large plastic duck) place in the water at Exmouth when the tide is out but turning make it to Topsham by high tide? Is that 2 questions?

Q. How fast is the estuary silting up? I’ve never seen it being dredged but perhaps it is?

Q. How deep is the estuary at the deepest part at high tide? How much does this change with the changing movement of the sand? How often is this mapped and measured?


Q. How will estuary biodiversity adapt/ change with climate change?

Q. What processes are at work causing the huge deposition of sand along the coast near Rodney Point? The low tide mark is now much further out than it was ten years ago.

Heath Nickels

Q. How long will it be before someone is killed by a speedboat on the estuary?.


Q. Your question here….


Q. Why does the wind strength tend to drop at high tide?

Q. Why are there so many small pieces of broken pottery on the strandline, to the west of the railway, north of where Withycombe Brook enters the Estuary?

Q. There is evidence of estuary-dependent past industries such as rows of poles in the river. Which industries have the river/estuary supported in the past and why have those industries died out?

Roger Gibson

Q.  What is the extent of the protected area (for nature), if any? Who owns this, and is there a record of what management for nature takes place (maybe a kind of map of nature areas)?

Q. Can Dawlish Warren survive sea level rise? 

Q. Where  along the river Exe does the water stop being salty sea water and become river water?

Q. More research on temperature & salinity clines in the estuary and how these impact on habitats. For example, can mussles exist in freshwater? why are there fewer mussles?  

Adrian Toole

Q. How much sediment (notably top soil) is carried out by the river Exe and typically where is this deposited (how far out at sea)? Currently (11.2.2021) the river is looking very red, presumably high levels of topsoil and sediment run off. Are there any impacts of this on wildlife in the Exe? And what, if anything, is being done in the catchment to reduce run off – beavers, landowners upstream??

Christina James

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