Essex Estuaries

Site overview: This is a large estuarine site in south-east England made up of coastal mudflats and sandbanks. Lots of little sea creatures call this area home, including the reef-building worm and the brittlestar. There are also large, nationally-important beds of dwarf eelgrass here.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Special Area of Conservation
MPA Purpose
areas which have been identified as best representing the range and variety within the European Union of habitats and (non-bird) species listed on Annexes I and II to the Directive


51° 39' 47" North,
0° 57' 21" East

Surface Area

461.01 km2
(178.00 mi.2 )


437.59 km
(271.91 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site


  • Atlantic salt meadows (Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae))
  • Estuaries
  • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide)
  • Subtidal sandbanks (Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time)
  • Glasswort and other annuals colonising mud and sand (Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand)
  • Mediterranean saltmarsh scrub (Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi))
  • Cord-grass swards (Spartina swards (Spartinion maritimae))