Whitsand and Looe Bay MCZ

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

This inshore site is located off the south coast of Cornwall, following the coast from Hore Stone near Talland Bay in the west, to a point between Queener Point and Long Cove on Rame Head in the east. The site covers an area of 52 km2 and is 25 meters deep at the deepest point. This site supports a large diversity of seaweeds and invertebrates. The ocean quahog, a type of clam which can live for up to 400 years, lives here. Within the shallower part of the site, the seagrass beds are likely to provide a nursery ground for the cuttlefish. Further out to sea, there are shipwrecks and small areas of subtidal rocky reef that support pink sea-fans and rare sea-fan anemones.

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

52.18 km2 (20.15 mi.2)

Perimeter

56.18 km (34.91 mi.)

  • Ocean quahog (Arctica islandica)

    The ocean quahog is a two-shelled animal that looks like a very large cockle and lives buried in the seabed. It can grow up to 13cm across and can be very long lived, with one individual reported to have reached over 500 years old.

  • Pink sea-fan (Eunicella verrucosa)

    A soft coral, related to tropical species and one of the most exotic-looking of our seabed animals. These delicately branched colonies of tiny animals are in turn home to other creatures.

  • Sea-fan anemone (Amphianthus dohrnii)

    A tiny anemone, about 1cm across, that lives with it’s base wrapped around a pink sea fan. They are found only in a few locations around the UK.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • High energy intertidal rock

    Rocky seashores, exposed to very strong waves and currents.

  • Moderate energy intertidal rock

    Rocky seashores, above low tide, with some shelter from waves and currents. On these shores, there are places where plants and animals can find shelter from the waves – the landward sides of boulders, in cracks and crevices, and in rock pools.

  • Low energy intertidal rock

    Rocky seashores, sheltered from waves and currents dominated by seaweeds and exposed at low tide.

  • Intertidal sand and muddy sand

    The beach! Sandy shores are made up of clean sand or slightly muddy sand, often scattered with seashells and stones. The surface is often ‘rippled’ by the action of waves. Below the surface worms and shellfish stay safe and damp.

  • Intertidal coarse sediment

    Where small rocks, pebbles, and gravel, sometimes mixed with coarse sand are sometimes covered by the tide. While it may not look like much lives there - there are animals specially adapted to live in the moist spaces between the shingle and gravel.


Seasearch Logo

The wrecks of the James Eagan Layne and former-HMS Scylla provide the main focus for diving in this area.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

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

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’