Sponges and anemones (Credit Paul Hymers)
Deeply incised chalk reefs support colourful sponges and anemones, while ross worm reefs mixed with mussel beds provide valuable habitat for a diversity of small crustaceans and molluscs.
Running between Kingsdown, Deal, to the north and Dover to the south is an important stretch of rich chalk reef, lying below the famous white cliffs of Dover.
The naturally eroding chalk cliffs give rise to boulder-strewn shores, and shaded habitat for unusual assemblages of colourful sponges and sea squirts.
The chalk platform extends across the shore and out to sea, with deep sand-filled gullies between tall ridges of chalk covered in seaweeds, sponges and anemones. Large crabs and lobsters find shelter within the chalk in recesses, while baby cuttlefish swim around the outcrops, demonstrating their amazing camouflage.
Farther offshore, the chalk gradually becomes covered in coarse sediments. Here, thousands of sandy tubes made by tiny ross worms form significant reefs which can harbour a wonderful diversity of wildlife and support the whole food web.
This recommended Marine Conservation Zone is under consideration for the second tranche of MCZs
Defra have indicated that this site is now under consideration for tranche two and will potentially be included in the formal consultation at the beginning of 2015. Defra will now working to verify the evidence base for this site and will be looking to engage with stakeholders on both a local and national level to refine information about the site. This site is important- it has the best regional example of rossworm reefs, which occur on the shore and subtidally. The wave-cut chalk habitat is also considered to be the best in the region. This chalk habitat has also been identified as being at risk of damage and degradation by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.
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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 MCZs