Studland to Portland SCI

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site lies off the south coast of Dorset and contains lots of different types of underwater reefs. For example, there is a series of limestone ledges (up to 15m across) which stick out of the shelly gravel at Worbarrow Bay. These are home to a rich sponge and sea fan community. Beautiful brittlestars have made their home on shale reefs extending from Kimmeridge; a unique reef feature, known as St Albans ledge, extends out over 10km offshore. Mussel beds flourish at Portland Reefs.

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 2012

Surface Area

332.15 km2 (128.24 mi.2)


181.51 km (112.79 mi.)

  • 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

Dorset Seasearch conducts many dives in this area which encompasses the reefs between Swanage Bay and the Isle of Portland.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

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

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