Sound of Barra SCI

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is a mixture of islands, extensive rocky reefs, sandbanks and shallow channels between the southern end of South Uist and the north eastern shore of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. There are seagrass beds in the Sound and maerl is also present over a wide area,although neither are in great condition. There are many types of reef here too, along with mixed kelp communities. Deeper rock surfaces are covered by a turf of red algae and the shores are dominated by the barnacles and small patches of mussels.

MPA Type

Site of Community Importance

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are strictly protected sites designated under European legislation. They contribute both to the UK MPA network and set up to protect habitat types and species considered to be most in need of conservation at a European level (excluding birds). Sites that have been adopted by the European Commission but not yet formally designated by the government of each country are referred to as Sites of Community Interest (SCIs).

Designation date

1 August 2013

Surface Area

124.85 km2 (48.20 mi.2)


210.82 km (131.00 mi.)

  • Common seal (Phoca vitulina)

    Mammals that feed on fish at sea but regularly haul out on to rocky shores or inter-tidal sandbanks to rest, or to give birth and to suckle their pups. Though called ‘common’ they are actually less numerous than the grey seal, which is the other species f

  • Subtidal sandbanks

    Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time

  • Reefs

    Areas where the bedrock, stable boulders and cobbles or structures created by animals arise from the surrounding seabed. They attract and provide a home to a huge variety of plant and animal life.

Did you know?…

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’

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’