Beachy Head East recommended Marine Conservation Zone

Status: Potential T3 site

Male cuckoo wrasse (Credit Paul Naylor)Male cuckoo wrasse (Credit Paul Naylor)

Rich in habitats and marine life, this site is a real gem!

Rocky ridges at The Pound, near Eastbourne run roughly in line with the cliffs creating pools and lagoons at low tide. These are full of seaweed and other marine species.

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This area is characterised by Sovereign Shoals, an extensive wildlife-rich sandstone reef with outcrops of chalk. Marine life includes a variety of sponges, anemones, sea squirts, erect bryozoans and starfish. Soft corals colonise the underside of slab surfaces together with tube worms.

Animal ‘reefs’, known as biogenic reefs, are made out of consolidated tubes of ross worms or mussels. Possibly one of the best regional examples of mussel beds is found here. These structures provide homes for a diversity of marine life which would otherwise not be present on the seafloor. 

Fish include short-snouted seahorses, cuckoo wrasse and large numbers of bib and poor cod. This is one of the most important nursery areas within 0.25nm of shore for plaice and Dover sole. Black-headed gulls, black-legged kittiwakes and common terns all come here to feed.

This site was originally proposed by the local fishing community who use static fishing gear, seeking to protect the reef habitats on which their fishery depends from damage from mobile fishing. Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee has indentified the site as being at high risk of damage and degradation due to the presence of sensitive habitats or species within the site. It contains one of Plantlife’s Important Plant Areas for the huge diversity of algae found in The Pound. 

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Dive video of this site

Contains UKHO Law of the Sea data. Crown copyright and database right and contains Ordnance Survey Data Crown copyright and database 2012


Other nearby sites

Beachy Head West

Inner Bank

East Meridian


FilenameFile size
Beachy Head East Factsheet.pdf2.18 MB