Lundy SAC

Status: Designated


Site overview

The seas around Lundy Island have several different types of protection; there is a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in this area, as well as this Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  Both are types of Marine Protected Area. The boundary for the SAC follows that of the MCZ. ##Site details The SAC was put in place to protect certain features which include the incredible reefs that extend well over 1 km offshore. The habitats and animals found here are outstanding and include many types of rare or unusual seaweeds. For example fragile long-lived species, such as soft coral  is found here, along with beautiful pink sea-fans and a variety of erect branching sponges. All five British species of cup-coral are found here, including the scarlet and gold star-coral and the sunset cup-coral. Also protected here is the special sandbank where thousands of crabs and sea urchins live. This designation also protects little-explored sea caves and a colony of over 100 grey seals. If you go out on the water you are likely to run into the inquisitive Atlantic Seals which live in this area. It is not uncommon to see 30 or 40 seals following kayakers who paddle through. More information on the Lundy SAC can be found on the official Lundy MCZ website. 

MPA Type

Special Area of Conservation

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).

Designation date

1 January 1996

Surface Area

30.71 km2 (11.86 mi.2)


47.40 km (29.45 mi.)

  • Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus)

    Among the rarest seals in the world - the UK population makes up 40% of the total global population. Grey seals spend most of their life at sea, only coming ashore to breed.

  • Subtidal sandbanks

    Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time

  • Submerged or partially submerged sea caves

    Typically associated with reefs, caves that are either underwater all the time or welcome the sea at high tides, caves provide a habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals.

  • 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.

Seasearch Logo

Seasearch volunteer divers have carried out regular surveys of the sea fan populations at Lundy since 2001. Lundy sea fans sadly suffered from a bacterial infection in 2001 which caused extensive damage to the colonies. Many of these dead colonies still stand and provide a habitat for a variety of other animals. Where colonies were not completely killed the remaining living sections continued to grow and a particular characteristic of the sea fans on Lundy remains large colonies with a dead centre and healthy growing extremities. You can read a report from Seaseach about their surveys of sea fans. ##The benefits of proper protection In a small area around Lundy it is illegal to remove sea life from the sea. This is known as a no take zone. After just four years of protection the lobster populations of Lundy were recovering with more large lobsters found in the reserve than in the waters outside it. This is because the reserve acts as a refuge where young lobsters can grow to maturity.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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