The Swale Estuary

Site overview: The Swale Estuary is 51km2, and lies between the north Kent coast and the Isle of Sheppey. Off the nearby town of Whitstable, the famous shingle spit known as The Street is surrounded by areas of colourful red, green and brown seaweeds and beds of peacock worms, with their beautiful whorls of tentacles. The area is well known for the birds which come to feed on the abundance of life in and on the rich, muddy seabed. Seals also use these waters to forage for food, and haul-out on Horse Sands to rest at low tide. The Swale forms an important spawning and nursery area for several species of fish, which can find shelter in the seagrass, mussel beds and muddy gravel. Extraordinary looking and delicate, greater pipefish, close cousins to the seahorses, come to feed in the shallow waters here.

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


51° 22' 11" North,
0° 55' 56" East

Surface Area

51.30 km2
(19.81 mi.2 )


220.00 km
(136.70 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site