Thanet Coast MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

This is an inshore site located on the Kent coast. The site boundary stretches from the east of Herne Bay, around Thanet to the northern wall of Ramsgate harbour. The site protects an area of approximately 64 km2.  This Marine Conservation Zone partially overlaps with an existing Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and will build upon this designation, protecting parts which are not already protected.  This site was put in place to protect the subtidal chalk that extends seawards from the chalk reefs found here. The chalk seabed within the area is the longest continuous stretch of coastal chalk in the UK. Here, sponges, anemones and sea squirts live alongside a variety of crab and fish species. This is also an important site for a type of stalked jellyfish; these are really small creatures, reaching less than 1 cm in height. Unlike other species of stalked jellyfish, it is rarely attached to seagrasses, but instead is typically found on small red seaweeds on rocky shores.

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

63.63 km2 (24.57 mi.2)


66.82 km (41.52 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

51° 22' 45" North, 1° 22' 47" East

  • Ross worm reefs (Sabellaria spinulosa)

    Ross worms build tubes from sand and shell fragments. They are usually found individually, but in some shallow water areas they occur in huge colonies that can be up to half a metre high and spread over several hectares. They are important because they p

  • Stalked jellyfish (Haliclystus auricula)

    Bell-shaped, jelly-like, eight-armed animals that have a stalk and a sucker which they use to attach to marine plants, rocks or the seabed. Some species can move and do so by cartwheeling.

  • Stalked jellyfish (Lucernariopsis cruxmelitensis)

    Bell-shaped, jelly-like, eight-armed animals that have a stalk and a sucker which they use to attach to marine plants, rocks or the seabed. Some species can move and do so by cartwheeling.

  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock

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

  • Subtidal sand

    Sandy seascapes that can seem a bit like deserts, but can be full of life. Flat fish and sand eels camouflaged on the surface of the sand,worms and bivalves (with their paired, hinged shells) all live in places like these.

  • Subtidal coarse sediment

    Undersea beds of coarse sand, gravel and shingle. Most of the animals that live here, like bristleworms, sand mason worms, small shrimp-like animals, burrowing anemones, carpet shell clams and venus cockles, are found buried in the seabed – the safest pl

  • 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.

  • Subtidal chalk

    The chalk we see on our coastline can continue below the tide and create a very rich habitat for marine life. Becasue chalk is soft it is vulnerable to damage.

  • Moderate energy infralittoral rock

    Shallow water rock, below the tides, with some shelter from waves and currents.

  • Blue mussel beds (Mytilus edulis)

    These small, blue mussels are a common sight on UK coasts and form large beds in some places. They are particularly important where they create a haven for other creatures like starfish, crabs and anemones in otherwise sandy or muddy areas. 

  • Peat and clay exposures

    Seabeds formed of exposed peat or clay, or in some cases both, which are very rare. Where they do occur they attract a variety of plant and animal life.

Did you know?…

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

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

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