Yarmouth to Cowes MCZ

Status: Proposed

Description

Site overview

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 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.

Surface Area

16.89 km2 (6.52 mi.2)

Perimeter

120.28 km (74.74 mi.)

  • Native oysters (Ostrea edulis)

    Native oysters are two shelled animals - one half is like a cup and attaches to the rock, the other is flat and forms a lid. These oysters have been farmed for food since Roman times and the shells are a common find in archeological digs. 

  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock

    Deeper water rock, with some shelter from waves and currents.

  • Subtidal mud

    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.

  • Subtidal chalk

    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

    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


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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.

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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

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

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