Yarmouth to Cowes MCZ
This extensive coastal stretch, enjoyed by local and visiting leisure sailors, runs along the cherished Hamstead Heritage Coast. The area is loved for it its picturesque and unspoilt clay cliffs, creeks and woodland, and is one of the last English homes to the red squirrel. Beneath the waves lies another ancient landscape with amazing wildlife. The site includes one of the country’s best examples of a peat exposure, once-inhabited ancient peat cliffs submerged by prehistoric sea-level rises and now home to thriving communities of marine plants and invertebrates. Seagrass meadows are also found here, as well as rocky reefs where lobsters, crabs and the native oyster make their home.
Designation of this marine conservation zone in 2019 will protect these fragile species and habitats from the impacts of damaging activities.
MPA TypeMarine 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.
Surface Area16.89 km2 (6.52 mi.2)
Perimeter120.28 km (74.74 mi.)
Moderate energy circalittoral rock
Deeper water rock, with some shelter from waves and currents.
A very rich and diverse muddy undersea habitat that supports high numbers of worms, cockles and other shellfish, urchins and sea cucumbers as well as sea pens, burrowing anemones and brittlestars.
Subtidal coarse sediment
Undersea beds of coarse sand, gravel and shingle. Most of the animals that live here, like bristleworms, sand mason worms, small shrimp-like animals, burrowing anemones, carpet shell clams and venus cockles, are found buried in the seabed – the safest pl
Subtidal mixed sediments
Undersea beds of a mixture of stones, gravels, sands and muds. Because mixed seabeds are so varied, they may support a wide range of animals, both on and in the sediment.
High energy circalittoral rock
Rocky areas affected by strong waves or currents where the water depth means there is not enough sunlight so marine animal communities like sponges, sea firs and soft corals dominate and seaweeds are mostly absent.
The chalk we see on our coastline can continue below the tide and create a very rich habitat for marine life. Becasue chalk is soft it is vulnerable to damage.
Low energy intertidal rock
Rocky seashores, sheltered from waves and currents dominated by seaweeds and exposed at low tide.
Intertidal coarse sediment
Where small rocks, pebbles, and gravel, sometimes mixed with coarse sand are sometimes covered by the tide. While it may not look like much lives there - there are animals specially adapted to live in the moist spaces between the shingle and gravel.
High energy infralittoral rock
Shallow water rock, below the tides, exposed to very strong waves and currents.
Moderate energy infralittoral rock
Shallow water rock, below the tides, with some shelter from waves and currents.
Estuarine rocky habitats
Estuaries are usually soft, muddy places, so rock and stable boulders in estuaries are rare and offer a great habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals.
Intertidal underboulder communities
The marine life living under boulders on the seashore. These damp, shady spots are home to a different set of creatures that you don’;t find on the rest of the shore.
Littoral chalk communities
Special communities of animals and seaweeds that live on chalk seashores. Chalk is a soft, pure limestone and is easily eroded by seawater. This results in a characteristic type of beach, with a wide shore, often extending for many hundreds of metres, ba
Peat and clay exposures
Seabeds formed of exposed peat or clay, or in some cases both, which are very rare. Where they do occur they attract a variety of plant and animal life.
Sheltered muddy gravels
Muddy gravels occur mainly in estuaries, drowned river valleys and sea lochs, in areas protected from wave action and strong tidal streams. They can be found both on the shore and in the shallows.
Bouldnor Cliff is a submerged pre-historic site, lying 11m deep offshore of Bouldnor near Yarmouth. Excavations have been on-going here since the 8,000 year old Mesolithic settlement was first identified in 1999, when a lobster was seen throwing Stone Age
There is some data for this site gathered by Seasearch partners at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Challenging tides and generally poor visibility make it a difficult area to dive, but Bouldnor Cliff is a fascinating outcrop of peat with evidence of Neolithic habitation.Learn more about Seasearch
Did you know?…
To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’
Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns
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