When beach conditions are favourable, Tankerton can be a very productive site. Rich in fish, lobsters, crabs, gastropods, bivalves and sharks’ teeth, a diverse range of species can be found here. London Clay is exposed on the foreshore, mostly in patches, but, during scouring conditions, more extensively.
♦ Follow the A299 to Herne Bay and take the Herne Bay exit, following the A2990 left at the roundabout.
♦ At the next roundabout, take a right turn and then go left at the junction taking you onto the B2205. Follow this road through Studd Hill, which will take you directly to the seafront. At this point, you will need to take a right turn to continue along the seafront on Marina Parade.
♦ It is best to park along the seafront, at the eastern end. However, during busy periods, you may have to use the main car park half way along the seafront road. Access can then be made by descending the grass bank down to the seawall and then using some steps down to the beach.
♦ Ref: 51.36568°N, 1.04790°E
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – There is such a diverse range of fossils to be found here that you never know what you might find. They can be found anywhere along the 2.2km stretch of beach starting from Long Rock and continuing to the western end of Tankerton. However, success at this location is conditional on beach conditions.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – This can be a good site for children, but extreme care should be taken of the deep silt and mud that can occur on the beach. The foreshore has quick and easy access from the seafront road, with toilets and plenty of places to eat and drink.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – Tankerton is easy to find, with lots of car parking and very quick access to the shore. The only downside is that areas of London Clay tend to occur anywhere along 2.2km of beach, which also extends quite far out at low tide. Therefore, it can easily end up being a very long walk.
TYPE: – Fossils are mostly collected from the sand, silt and clay exposed far out on the foreshore at low tide. London Clay is mostly exposed in patches, but is exposed more extensively during scouring tides, particularly at spring tides. There is very little shingle here. Therefore, most of the fossils collected tend to be large specimens, since smaller teeth and fossils cannot become trapped in the shingle.
Unlike many other London Clay sites, smaller fossils are harder to find here. Instead, most fossils are larger specimens, which are found loose or within phosphatic nodules lying on the sand or silt, or around and near to patches of London Clay. Although fossils can be found anywhere along the 2.2km of beach, most are actually found just 900m from Long Rock and from the lower foreshore. The upper foreshore (the first 10 to 15m) tends to be badly silted up.
What makes this site so rich in fossils is that it contains a large number of nodule beds running along the foreshore. These mostly outcrop at low tide and during scouring conditions, although fossil bearing nodules can actually be found even when the beach is badly silted up.
There is a very diverse range of fossils species found at this site. Invertebrates include foraminifera, bryozoans, worms, trace fossils, seven species of lobster and 12 species of crab, bivalves, gastropods, nautiloids and crinoids. Vertebrates found here include 29 species of shark, four species of ray, 20 species of fish, turtles, snakes, birds and the rare mammal Hyracotherium leporinum. This is quite an impressive list and, with erosion recently becoming more extensive, there is a good chance that further species will be added in time.
This site exposes London Clay from both Division B1 and B2. It can form an extensive platform, but is more commonly found in small patches exposed along the foreshore. There are also a large number of nodule beds that run along this site, which are rich in fossils. Towards the eastern end, pebbles and flints are exposed in a gravel bed laid down by a Pleistocene river, which forms ‘Long Rock’. Within this bed, bones of mammoths, rhinoceros, bison and deer have been found.
Common sense should always be used at every location and prior knowledge of tide time is essential. This location is generally safe, although please be aware that the sea comes in very quickly here (it comes in at a slow walking pace). The beach extends out some distance and it is very easy to become cut off by the tide coming in behind and around you. This location also suffers from being badly silted up with deep mud. Therefore, extreme caution should be used to avoid becoming stuck.
You don’t really need any tools here too collect, as most fossils can be picked up loose from the foreshore.
This site is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions, download the PDF from Natural England.