Beachy Head West Marine Conservation Zone

Status: protected


Tompot pair (Credit Paul Naylor)Tompot pair (Credit Paul Naylor)

This area would protect some of the best examples of subtidal chalk gullies and ledges in the south east, an unusual feature in the British Isles.

Populations of both long and short-snouted seahorses occur with other fish including long-spined sea scorpion, ballan wrasse, bib and gobies.

This site has been designated to protect a range of habitats found within the site including sand and mud habitats, blue mussel and the chalk communities found here. It will also provide protected for the native oyster and short snouted seahorse.

The chalk we see on land, most impressively at the iconic Seven Sisters, extends some 500m out to sea as a wave-cut platform. The gullies, crevices and ledges are home to a fascinating array of marine life. The surface of the chalk is pitted with holes, mostly caused by burrowing piddocks and boring worms. Ross coral, sponges, sea squirts, anemones, bryozoans and hydroids all cloak the chalk reefs.

Forests of kelp occupy shallow areas whilst ridges and gully sides are covered with tightly packed blue mussels mixed with native oysters. Species such as lobsters, spider crabs and hermit crabs are often spotted on the move in search of food.

Populations of both long- and short-snouted seahorses are found here with other fish including the long-spined sea scorpion and ballan wrasse. European eel elvers also migrate along the coastline into the estuaries.

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Location map:

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