Swanscombe MCZ

Status: Proposed


Site overview

This section of the Thames Estuary is bordered by the West Thurrock and Swanscombe marshes, and would protect tidal mud, sand, shell and gravel seabeds. These unassuming habitats provide an ideal home for a range of invertebrates, which in turn are food of fish and waders. The site has been particularly recommended to protect the rare tentacled lagoon worm and its favoured habitats. This worm is scarce in the UK, and is very vulnerable to disturbance to its habitats.

Designation of this site in 2019 would provide a permanent London residence for tentacled lagoon worms and their many soft-bodied companions.

MPA Type

Marine Conservation Zone

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and have been established around England, Wales and Northern Ireland to contribute to the UK MPA network protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh territorial and UK offshore waters.

Coordinates (central point)

51° 27' 46" North, 0° 17' 58" East

  • Tentacled lagoon-worm (Alkmaria romijni)

    A tiny, very scarce bristleworm, less than five millimetres long. It lives in a tube made of mud in some sheltered estuaries and lagoons.

  • Intertidal mud

    The quiet water in sheltered estuaries and harbours allows very fine silt and clay to settle and form a layer of mud that can be exposed at low tide. These glistening muddy expanses can be packed ful of life and are sometimes called the ‘larders of the s

Did you know?…

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

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