Hartland Point to Tintagel MCZ

Status: Designated


Site overview

Running along the north Cornish coast, this site is 304km2 and runs from the shoreline to depths of approximately 50 meters. Near to the shore, gently sloping bedrock is home to different types of algae and kelp forest species. Lower shore habitats have exceptionally wonderful colonies of reef-building honeycomb worms - possibly the best found in Britain! There are large mussel beds in the northern half of the bay. In deeper waters the rock is covered in sea squirts and sponges. This huge variety of habitats supports a multitude of fish species such as ballan wrasse, corkwing wrasse, goldsinny, pollack and seabass. Corals such as pink sea fans, and other marine life such as peacock’s tail algae, live here.  It is also thought that this is an important area for cetaceans and sharks, especially porbeagle sharks. Shaped like a torpedo with a pointed snout, the porbeagle shark has come under severe pressure from fishing and is classed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN’s list of threatened species.

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

303.97 km2 (117.36 mi.2)


208.13 km (129.33 mi.)

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Coastal saltmarshes and saline reedbeds

    Saltmarshes link the land and the sea and create very specialised conditions for particular plants. They form a natural coastal defence and are home to a large variety of life. Associated reedbeds are equally rich and improtant and support iconic species

  • 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.

Seasearch Logo

Seasearch dived this site in 2014 and completed a report detailing what they saw. Their report details the bedrock - and they confirmed that it was covered by encrusting sponges, with jewel anemones and a silty, short, hydroid turf. This evidence helped ensure that the area was designated as a Marine Conservation Zone - a type of Marine Protected Area.

Learn more about Seasearch

Did you know?…

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

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers