Poole Rocks MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

This is an inshore site lying just to the east of the entrance to Poole Harbour, made up of several small patches  of low-lying rocky outcrops. The shallow water area here is covered in sponges, bryozoans and hydroids rather than seaweeds, and a few solitary pink sea fans have been recorded on nearby patches of rock. The rarely recorded Couch’s goby has been spotted in this site and fish, such as pouting and pollack, often shoal over the rocks. Several wrasse species, including Ballan wrasse, nest among the rocks of the reef. The native oyster is also found here.

MPA Type

Marine Conservation Zone

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) and have been established around England, Wales and Northern Ireland to contribute to the UK MPA network protect a range of nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology, and can be designated anywhere in English and Welsh territorial and UK offshore waters.

Surface Area

3.74 km2 (1.45 mi.2)


7.75 km (4.81 mi.)

  • Couch’s goby (Gobius couchii)

    A small fish - less then 10cm long that has only been recorded from a handful of locations around the UK.

  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock

    Deeper water rock, with some shelter from waves and currents.

  • Subtidal mixed sediments

    Undersea beds of a mixture of stones, gravels, sands and muds. Because mixed seabeds are so varied, they may support a wide range of animals, both on and in the sediment.

  • Native oyster beds (Ostrea edulis)

    Native oysters are two shelled animals - one half is like a cup and attaches to the rock, the other is flat and forms a lid. In shallow water on fine, muddy sand, they can be found in huge numbers and form extensive beds, which become home to many other m

Seasearch Logo

Seasearch has surveyed this site on a number of occasions. They were involved in detailed surveying prior to this site being protected in order to gather information on what needed to be cared for. Surveys in 2017 concentrated on the reefs to the east of the MCZ, to gether evidence to extend the boundary to encompass all the patch reefs in the vicinity, which are home to the easternmost pink sea fans found in the UK.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

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

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