Runswick Bay MCZ

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

Runswick Bay extends 3nm out to sea from an area of the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast. The site is made up of different types of rock and sediment habitats, each supporting diverse and unique communities,  including the ocean quahog - a type of clam which can live for up to 400 years! The shallow rocky areas are home to kelps and red seaweeds, while deeper areas are covered in sponges, sea squirts, sea urchins and starfish.  The waters here provide suitable spawning ground for herring and lemon sole, and nursery areas for sprat, cod, whiting and plaice.  Nearby cliffs provide the ideal habitat for cliff-nesting birds, including kittiwakes, fulmars and gannets. Harbour porpoises are also regularly recorded here.

At risk Seaseach (a network of scientifically trained scuba divers) conducted a report of this area.

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

67.67 km2 (26.13 mi.2)

Perimeter

37.96 km (23.59 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.

  • Moderate energy circalittoral rock

    Deeper water rock, with some shelter from waves and currents.

  • Subtidal mud

    A very rich and diverse muddy undersea habitat that supports high numbers of worms, cockles and other shellfish, urchins and sea cucumbers as well as sea pens, burrowing anemones and brittlestars.

  • 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 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.

  • Moderate energy infralittoral rock

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


Seasearch Logo

Seasearch North-East gathered a wealth of both intertidal and subtidal data in support of the designation of this site and have continued to survey it on an ad hoc basis since.

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