Loch Sunart NCMPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This is a long narrow sea loch at the northern end of the Sound of Mull. There are a number of small islands which create narrow channels where the tide is squeezed, creating fast currents. These areas are home to flame shell beds. These grow together and stabilise the sea bed, providing places for sponges, starfish and brittlestars to live.

There is also a Special Area of Conservation here, which is a type of Marine Protected Area. This aims to protect the European otters here. 

MPA Type

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (NCMPAs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine Scotland Act 2010) and have been established around Scotland to contribute to the UK MPA network by protecting a range of important habitats, species and features of the seabed.

Designation date

24 July 2014

Surface Area

48.83 km2 (18.85 mi.2)


138.07 km (85.79 mi.)

  • Northern feather star aggregations (Leptometra celtica)

    Areas where these amazing creatures, related to starfish and sea urchins have formed a dense groups on the sea bed.

  • Serpulid aggregations (Serpula vermicularis)

    Serpulid worms are showy marine worms that live in a tube rising from the seabed. They are found individually in almost all marine environments but only form ‘reefs’ in only a few special places. These reefs also host loads of other creatures that take sh

  • Flameshell beds (Limaria hians)

    Flame shells are animals with a pair of shells, like a mussel or scallop, that can form dense groups on the seabed. Large groups, or beds, of flame shells are very rare. They can attract and support hundreds of other species creating a very vibrant ocean

Did you know?…

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers