Sand dunes and the related habitats are remarkably rich in wildlife. Amongst those in Redcar and Cleveland, South Gare and Coatham Sands support a wealth of flora, birds and invertebrates. When one looks closely at this coastal zone, a range of habitats present themselves, including extensive inter-tidal mud and sand, dunes, and salt and freshwater marshes, all of which developed since the South Gare breakwater's construction in the mid 19th Century.
Marram grass dominates the dunes, and there is also a large stand of lyme grass, one of the most extensive in Britain. Other plants of interest include Sea couch-grass, northern marsh orchid in the dune slacks (dips), early marsh orchid and fragrant orchid amongst many more.
Invertebrates on South Gare are varied and abundant, including several species of butterfly, uncommon beetles (e.g. Broscus cephalotes and Enochrus quadripunctatus) and rare spiders (e.g. Silometopus incurvatus and Dysdera crocata).
Bar-tailed godwit, curlew, redshank, dunlin and grey plover spend the winter-feeding on nearby Bran Sands, (South Gare) where invertebrates live in huge numbers in the mud and sand-flats. An internationally important sanderling population can be found on the intertidal areas of Coatham Sands and both areas support migrating ringed plover. Knot, turnstone, purple sandpiper and oystercatcher feed on the intertidal areas of the breakwater and on the mussel beds of the German Charlies and Coatham Rocks.