Wildlife on Romney Marsh
A leech is a segmented annelid worm that has suckers at both ends. It is an invertebrate that sticks to a host, (usually a vertebrate), in order to suck their blood. When they are full they drop off the host and then start to digest the blood.
Medicinal Leeches have been used in medicine for hundreds of years. In medieval and early modern medicine, the medicinal leech was used to remove blood from a patient as part of a process "to balance the humors that must be kept in balance for the human body to function properly".
Medicinal Leeches are now making a comeback in microsurgery. They provide an effective means to reduce blood coagulation, to relieve venous pressure from pooling blood (venous insufficiency), and in reconstructive surgery to stimulate circulation in reattachment operations for organs with critical blood flow, such as eyelids, fingers, and ears.
Medicinal Leeches can be found across the Marsh in ditches and in the lakes around Dungeness and at Greatstone Lakes. The Romney Marsh medicinal leech population is the largest in the British Isles and, is thus, of international importance.
How do Leeches Work?
The Fifth Continent Landscape Partnership Scheme seeks to deliver a number of exciting projects based around three key themes to Restore, Rediscover and Reclaim Romney Marsh. One such project includes the production of a map showing the location of wildlife on Romney Marsh, created from submissions from members of the public.
Wildlife records help us to know how different species are doing across the landscape. Simply put if no-one writes it down, we don’t know it’s there! The project team has even found that there are some 1km areas on Romney Marsh with no records at all! That means that as far as anyone knows there isn’t a single plant or even an insect living there! Of course, we know that this isn’t true so it’s up to all of us to note down what we see so that we can better understand the wildlife of Romney Marsh. You can do this on your phone whilst out walking or why not join a local group and learn more about the different plants and animals that are out there. Check out the Fifth Continent Volunteering Pages for more information.
Have you already spotted something interesting? Seen a woodpecker in your garden? Spotted a dolphin off the coast? Or perhaps you’ve been carrying out full surveys for years? We want to know about it! Use this handy form to submit your records! Then please submit your siting.
The map shows what has been recorded and when in every 1km square of Romney Marsh. You can click on any square on the map and have a go for yourself.