The Wash and North Norfolk Coast

Site overview: This site is important because the sandbanks that are found here are some of the largest groupings of sandbanks found in the UK. These provide nursery grounds for young fish, including plaice, cod, and sole. On the gravel seabed lots of beautiful brittlestars live, catching their food by waving their ‘arms’ in the current. Ross worms also live here; these are an interesting, reef-building worm. Harbour seals also call the area home, they breed and haul-out of the sea here. This site has the largest colony of common seals in the UK, with some 7% of the total UK population. Several European otters can also be spotted here. Together, the Wash and North Norfolk Coast form one of the most important marine areas in the UK and European North Sea coast.

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


52° 58' 18" North,
0° 29' 3" East

Surface Area

1,077.35 km2
(415.97 mi.2 )


448.94 km
(278.96 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site


  • Atlantic salt meadows (Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae))
  • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide)
  • Reefs


  • Common seal (Phoca vitulina)


  • Subtidal sandbanks (Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time)
  • Shallow inlets and bays (Large shallow inlets and bays)
  • Glasswort and other annuals colonising mud and sand (Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand)


  • Otter (Lutra lutra)


  • Mediterranean saltmarsh scrub (Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic halophilous scrubs (Sarcocornetea fruticosi))