The Earth has an incredible amount of coastline – and some of it is truly spectacular, as these images show.
They are from a new book called Coast, which celebrates the places where the land meets the sea, from Northumberland in the north of England to New Zealand via Florida.
They capture the world’s breathtaking shores, spanning beaches, islands, oceans, mountains, peninsulas, cliffs and more, underscoring that coastlines around the world are as varied as the climates and conditions they have evolved from.
Author David Ross says: ‘Coastlines give hints of the Earth’s history long before life emerged. We know now that is not a coincidence: they once formed part of a giant continent which existed before the Atlantic Ocean was formed.
‘Perhaps the eternal attraction of coastal scenery lies partly in that sense of uncertainty: even the most placid sandy beach is a frontier between the security of dry land and the great unknown.’
Here MailOnline Travel presents a selection of images from the book.
‘Only visible from above, this phenomenon looks like water pouring downwards below the sea’s surface,’ says Mr Ross of Le Morne peninsula in Mauritius (above). ‘In fact it is sand washed by currents off the island’s coastal shelf and falling into the depths of the Indian Ocean’
‘Bamburgh sums up much of earlier English history,’ says Mr Ross of Bamburgh Castle (above) in Northumberland, England. ‘It was the capital of Bernicia, an early kingdom of Anglo-Saxon migrants to Britain. A castle was built here by the Normans in 1086 as a defence against the Scots’
‘Rising 1,692m (5,560ft) above the sea, this mountain, Rahotu in Maori, offers more than a mile of precipitous bare rock,’ writes Mr Ross of the Mitre Peak (above) in Milford Sound, New Zealand. ‘First climbed in 1911, it now has six identified routes to the summit’
‘The jungle reaches right to the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica, and even beyond it, with these trees battling to survive on a wave-eroded stump of rock in the salt-laden, windy tidal zone,’ says Mr Ross
‘Cut off by limestone bluffs from the main resort, Rai Leh Beach [in Krabi, Thailand] is accessible only by boats, of which there are many,’ says Mr Ross. ‘Rai Leh is really a peninsula jutting into the Andaman Sea, with four beaches separated by promontories, but this scenic spot is by far the most visited’
‘On the southern tip of Corsica, the old citadel and some of the houses of Bonifacio find themselves ever closer to the receding cliffs,’ writes Mr Ross of this image of Bonifacio. ‘Offshore stacks show how much has been eaten away by the sea in recent centuries. The cliffs themselves are formed of sandstone layers, laid down on an ancient seabed’
‘In Russia’s far north-east, Kamchatka (above) is a wild and rugged landscape with much live volcanic activity, making it a land of ice and fire in winter,’ writes Mr Ross. ‘This view, on the eastern coast, looks over cliffs of tuff (hardened volcanic ash)’
‘On the eastern shore of the Sea of Japan, these rocks [on Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa, Japan] are considered a sacred place in the Shinto cult, and many legends have grown up about them,’ says Mr Ross. ‘The linking rope between the small shrines on each rock, known as a shimenawa, indicates a holy place’
‘Lightning flashes usually occur on the outer edges of tropical storms,’ writes Mr Ross about this image of Florida (above). ‘Intensive bursts of lightning closer to the centre are considered by some scientists to herald an intensification of storm conditions, though evidence also suggests that they may signal a lessening of intensity’
‘Hardened lava from a volcanic period some two million years ago forms a distinctive tilting spike,’ writes Mr Ross about Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island in Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands. ‘Beneath it, Galápagos penguins breed and human visitors enjoy snorkelling’
‘Vágar (above) is the third-largest of the Faroe Islands and this waterfall on its western side is its most famous scenic attraction, spilling 60m (200ft) from the clifftop into the sea,’ writes Mr Ross. ‘At times of high wind, so much spray is blown upwards as to make it seem that gravity is being reversed’
‘The varied rocks of this mountainous island are a guide to the movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates and to geological history in general,’ writes Mr Ross of Arcadia National Park (above) on Maine’s Mount Desert Island in the U.S. ‘Beginning as sands and mud on an ocean floor close to the Equator, they solidified, were plunged deep into the planet’s crust, thrust up, carried northwards, buried under ice caps and exposed once again’
‘Marking the eastern end of Madeira [Portugal], the Ponta de São Lourenço cape (above) terminates a narrow peninsula of volcanic rock with spectacular cliffs on each side,’ writes Mr Ross. ‘It is home to many species of seabird as well as the world’s rarest seal, the monk seal or seawolf, which can sometimes be seen below the cliffs’
‘Hualien’s name refers to “eddying waters” at the base of the grand mountain slopes that form the central part of Taiwan’s eastern coastline,’ writes Mr Ross of Hualien, Taiwan (above). ‘A spectacular road twists and tunnels along a man-made ledge. The slope continues under the water, to a depth of around 4,000m (13,120ft)’
‘Strategically placed on the Strait of Hormuz, the entry into the Persian Gulf, the Musandam Governorate is separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates,’ writes Mr Ross of Musandam, Oman (above). ‘These sharp crags look like a glaciated landscape but the mountains are caused by tectonic action, with the Arabian plate gradually pushing under the Eurasian plate, creating a fjord-like coastscape’
‘These 50m (164ft) high cliffs [at La Portada, Antofagasta, Chile] are formed of layered sandstone laid down in the Miocene and Pliocene eras, set on a base of dark Jurassic rocks, and topped by a thick covering of fossilized shells from an ancient sea-bed,’ writes Mr Ross. ‘With minimal rainfall, this is one of the driest areas on Earth’
‘A stark reminder of the fragility of coastal scenery: this massive arch, formed of red sandstone resting on a base of granite and for long a feature of Legzira and an attraction for visitors, collapsed abruptly in September 2016, cutting the beach in two,’ says Mr Ross of Legzira beach in Morocco (above). ‘Its neighbour, seen through the now-vanished arch, still survives’
‘Bird-haunted, and rising to 214m (702ft) on Ireland’s south-west coast, these layered rocks – sandstone, siltstone and shale – were deposited in a vast river system more than 300 million years ago,’ writes Mr Ross of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland (above). ‘The wave-line shows where eroded debris lies just below the surface’
‘The beaches on each side of Padar Island’s rocky spine have different coloured sand, white and black, sedimentary and volcanic respectively,’ writes Mr Ross of this image of Padar Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia. ‘No longer inhabited by komodo dragons, the island is still surrounded by a great variety of aquatic life’
‘Calanque is the name given to the steep-sided narrow inlets made by the sea into limestone cliffs on the Provençal coast between Marseille and Cassis,’ says Mr Ross of this image in the Calanques National Park on the southern coast of France. The combination of white cliffs and deep green water is striking. With no topsoil, the rock surface is home to many specialised plant species, and the inaccessibility of cliff nests encourages rare birds’
All images taken from the book Coast by David Ross (ISBN 978-1-78274-898-4), published by Amber Books Ltd (www.amberbooks.co.uk) and available from bookshops and online booksellers (RR £19.99)