Site overview: This is an inshore site located in the south west of the UK. The site covers an area of coastline in South Devon between Oddicombe Beach and Sharkham Point, protecting a total area of approximately 20 km2. Torbay is a large natural harbour, bordered by the busy holiday towns of Torquay, Paignton and the fishing port of Brixham. The sandy areas in this site that are close to shore contain large areas of vulnerable seagrass meadows, which offer a vital nursery ground and feeding place for many marine animals, including the long-snouted seahorse. The long-snouted seahorse also inhabits seagrass beds and is found within this area. Seahorses wrap their long tails around plants to prevent them from being swept away by strong currents. The long snout of this particular seahorse is more than one third of the length of its head and acts like a vacuum cleaner for food. Seahorses are known to form faithful pairs for at least the duration of the breeding season, and are unique in the animal kingdom in that it is the male that carries the developing young. The female transfers her eggs into a pouch on his stomach, where they are fertilised and the pouch sealed. The male gives birth to fully formed young about three weeks later. Dive below the waves Seasearch, a national network of scientifically trained scuba divers, has surveyed this site on a number of occasions. Before this site was designated they submitted evidence of the underwater environment in the form of a report - which helped secure designation. Divers have recorded seeing seahorses

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Marine Conservation Zone
MPA Purpose
to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology


50° 26' 4" North,
3° 30' 37" West

Surface Area

19.87 km2
(7.67 mi.2 )


65.29 km
(40.57 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site