Bideford to Foreland Point MCZ

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

This stretch of coastline has a long and diverse list of interesting and scarce species. It is characterised by cliffs and rocky shores, small sandy bays and inlets with an expanse of sandy shoreline at Bideford Bay. The area is 101km2. Notable species here include the native oyster, peacock’s tail seaweed, Celtic sea slug and European eel. Reef builders include the ross worm and honeycomb worm. Additional rare, scarce and sensitive species present are the pink sea fan, scarlet and gold star coral, Weymouth carpet coral, policeman anemone, Devonshire cup coral, stalked jellyfish and short-snouted seahorse.  The area is also important for seabirds and cetaceans, with harbour porpoises visible from headlands along the coast.

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

103.64 km2 (40.01 mi.2)

Perimeter

181.45 km (112.75 mi.)

  • Spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas)

    Crustaceans named for the sharp spines all over their heavy, orange-brown shells. They used to be fished commercially, but numbers have decreased dramatically and this species has disappeared entirely from some parts of England where they were common.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • High energy circalittoral rock

    Rocky areas affected by strong waves or currents where the water depth means there is not enough sunlight so marine animal communities like sponges, sea firs and soft corals dominate and seaweeds are mostly absent.

  • 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 mixed sediments

    Sheltered shores where there is a mixture of pebbles, gravels, sands and mud and there may also be rocks and a few large boulders. Because it’s diverse, it provides a home for a wide variety of animals.

  • 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.

  • High energy infralittoral rock

    Shallow water rock, below the tides, exposed to very strong waves and currents.

  • Moderate energy infralittoral rock

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

  • Fragile sponge & anthozoan communities on subtidal rocky habitats

    Anthozoans are a group of soft animals with feathery tentacles, which includes soft corals, sea-fans, cup corals and anemones. Members of this group can be found together with branching sponges on steeply sloping bedrock or large boulders in depths from

  • Honeycomb worm reefs (Sabellaria alveolata)

    Honeycomb worms build tubes from sand and shell fragments. Where these worms life close together their tubes from large reefs that provide habitat for animals and seaweeds.

  • Intertidal underboulder communities

    The marine life living under boulders on the seashore. These damp, shady spots are home to a different set of creatures that you don’;t find on the rest of the shore.

  • Littoral chalk communities

    Special communities of animals and seaweeds that live on chalk seashores. Chalk is a soft, pure limestone and is easily eroded by seawater. This results in a characteristic type of beach, with a wide shore, often extending for many hundreds of metres, ba

  • Low energy infralittoral rock

    Rocky areas in wave and tide-sheltered conditions below the lowest tide dominated by seaweeds including kelp.


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Seasearch divers from local clubs have been independently diving and recording this challenging section of the North Devon coast, which was designated as an MCZ in January 2016.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

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