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Marine wonderland just metres from coast caught on camera

PUBLISHED: 10:46 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 02 September 2019

A rock shrimp seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A rock shrimp seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

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It looks like it could be the azure waters of the Caribbean or the Great Barrier Reef.

A ballan wrasse seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA ballan wrasse seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

But these stunning images of underwater life were taken much closer to home - just 50m off the coast along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail.

Photographer Chris Taylor said there was only a short period each year when snorkelling conditions off the north Norfolk coast were ideal.

He said: "A lot of people are amazed to see how clear the water can get here and the variety of life that's right under their noses.

"There's a relatively small window when we have calm seas resulting in the clear water we had last week, and the sunshine lit everything up really well."

A view from above looking into the waters over the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA view from above looking into the waters over the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Mr Taylor, a professional photographer who lives in Sheringham and is also a helmsman of the town's lifeboat, said he had seen lobsters, crabs, eel, sea bass, prawns, snake pipefish, ballan wrasse, sea algae and other sea creatures beneath the surface.

The Sheringham Snorkel Trail was established in 2016, after divers Rob Spray and Dawn Watson came across a Victorian-era iron sewerage pipework and decided it would make an ideal snorkel site for holidaymakers and explorers.

The pipe itself is now encrusted with seaweed and marine invertebrates.

MORE: 'It's another world' - Exploring sea life and shipwrecks off the north Norfolk coast

The trail, the first of its kind in the region, stretches 46 metres (150ft) into the water and includes ropes, life buoys and information signs to guide beginners and help divers explore the ancient chalk reef below.

A sea creature seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA sea creature seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Mr Taylor said: "Sewage used to pumped directly out into the sea, but now something that used to cause a lot of pollution is now full of life."

The chalk reef is more 20 miles long and is thought to be more than 100 million years old. It is part of the same chalk seam that stretches across England and includes the White Cliffs of Dover and the White Horse hill carvings in Wiltshire.

The reef, just a few feet under the sea's surface, has been made a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), and, with an area of 315sq km it is larger than the Broads National Park.

The MCZ classification means that sea life such as the threatened pink sea fan coral which grows there will be protected.

A sea creature seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA sea creature seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Sea bass seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukSea bass seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A rock shrimp seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA rock shrimp seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Anemone seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAnemone seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Anemone seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAnemone seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Anemone seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAnemone seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Sea creatures seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukSea creatures seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A snake pipefish seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA snake pipefish seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A shore crab seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA shore crab seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A sea creature seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA sea creature seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

An aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukAn aerial view looking into the waters above the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

Sea life seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukSea life seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

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A rock shrimp seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA rock shrimp seen along the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

A view from above looking into the waters over the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.ukA view from above looking into the waters over the Sheringham Snorkel Trail. Picture: christaylorphoto.co.uk

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