Coquet to St Mary's

Site overview: Coquet to St Mary’s is 198.75km2 just off the southern part of the Northumberland coastline, and includes both Coquet Island and St Mary’s Island. There is another protected area in this region known as Coquet Island Special Protection Area (SPA). The seafloor is made up of a mosaic of habitats and drops to 30 meters in depth. These include three different rocky habitats and also mixed sediments, unique shoreline underboulder communities and estuarine rocky habitats. Hard-rock cliffs are characteristic to the area, with many of the headlands fronted by rocky shore. Offshore at Blyth, there is a ridge of limestone close to the seashore, known locally as ‘the Trink’. It is partly covered by gravels, cobbles and some boulders - a perfect place for crustaceans to hide in. The different habitats within this area support thousands of seabirds and marine mammals, including 90% of the UK’s roseate tern population, as well as harbour porpoises, white-beaked dolphins and species of whale such as minke whale. Atlantic cod, ballan wrasse, goldsinny, pollack and octopus also live here. Coquet Island is important for breeding and foraging seabirds and grey seals. St Mary’s Island’s rocky reefs are vital habitats for crustaceans to live in, and it is an important breeding site for the bizarre looking but lovable fish called the lumpsucker. Below the waves Divers from our volunteer dive programme, Seasearch, surveyed parts of this area before it was designated. They found a sea bed with a mosaic of intertidal and sub-tidal rock, and sand and gravel seabed of conservation importance. During the dives a sighting of a rare Arctic cushion star was made and photographed - the first ever sighting of this species in English waters! At St Marys Island, kelp forests, boulder reefs and surge gullies were recorded, and vertical submarine cliff faces were festooned with filter feeding sponges, sea squirts, and other colourful animals. Divers also recorded a sighting of the ocean quahog, a species of edible clam which reportedly can live for up to 400 years.
What is the cost? Before this site was designated as a Marine Conservation Zone (a type of Marine Protected Area) the Marine Socio-Economics Project (MSEP) conducted a Cost Benefit Analysis of the area. The result from this are displayed in an infographic which details the trade offs involved in designation and subsequent management.
It was identified that this area is important for tourism.

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


55° 14' 37" North,
1° 29' 33" West

Surface Area

192.02 km2
(74.14 mi.2 )


121.48 km
(75.49 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site