Rathlin Island SPA
As the name suggests, Rathlin Island is an island off the coast of County Antrim, and is the northernmost point of Northern Ireland. It is home to around 145 people. This area has several types of protection, a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation. There is also a proposed Marine Conservation Zone. All are types of Marine Protected Areas and are designed to protect different parts of this special place. This site aims to protect an area of sea around the island which is used by many of the seabirds which breed around the island’s coast. The area is home to internationally important numbers of the peregrine falcon, as well as a pair of red-billed chough. This site also supports over 20,000 breeding seabirds of national and international importance such as the migratory razorbill, the common guillemot and black-legged kittiwake. Those birds which are more common, and also live here, are the Atlantic puffin, northern fulmar, herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, and common gull.
MPA TypeSpecial Protection Area
Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.
Designation date1 February 1999
Surface Area33.43 km2 (12.91 mi.2)
Perimeter62.04 km (38.55 mi.)
Razorbill (Alca torda)
A migratory bird that breeds on coastal cliffs and spends the rest of the year at sea feeding on small fish like sandeel, sprat and herring.
Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
A small cliff nesting seabird named for it its nasal “ki-ti-waak”” callnotes. The population is declining in some areas
Common guillemot (Uria aalge)
One of the most common birds breeding on sheer, crowded cliffs known as ‘seabird cities’. This seabird only comes to land to breed and spends the rest of its life at sea.
Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
A large and powerful bird of prey which is a swift and agile hunter. Peregrines were at a low point in the 1960s due to human persecution and the impact of pesticides in the food chain but are showing signs of recovery.
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 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’
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