Many of the earliest discoveries of dinosaur and other prehistoric reptile remains were in the area surrounding Lyme Regis and Charmouth. Notable among these were the discoveries made by self-educated palaeontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning, in the 1820s.
The weather in the bay is temperate by English standards, and far more temperate than many other places at a similar latitude. The reason for this is the warming action of the Gulf Stream. The area along the coast of Lyme Bay is thus a popular holiday destination. On 22 March 1993, four schoolchildren died in what is known as the Lyme Bay kayaking tragedy.
Lyme Bay was the site of Exercise Tiger, a practice run for the D-Day invasion of France in 1944, using the beach called Slapton Sands near Slapton, Devon as the practice landing area. The operation went horribly wrong when German E-boats appeared on the scene and attacked the landing craft, killing 749 American Army and Navy personnel in the middle of the bay.
Tank wrecks from the D-Day practice provide a venue for diving. Marine life includes the Devon cup coral (Caryophyllia smithii) and rare pink sea fan (Eunicella verrucosa). The reefs have been under threat from scallop dredging which, if unregulated, might destroy the coral's habitat. Devon Wildlife Trust has been campaigning to protect the reefs, calling for an end to the dredging and trawling within a 60-square-mile (160 km2) zone to help the reefs recover. About 20% of this area is now protected by a voluntary agreement made between the DEFRA and the fishermen of the South West Inshore Fishermen's Association.