Ballan wrasse (Credit Ian Pilling)
Colourful creatures abound on the chalk and sandstone reefs off Dover and Folkestone.
Lying between Dover and Folkestone is a surprising diversity of seabed structure which mirrors the geology on land.
Below the white cliffs is an important stretch of marine chalk reefs, interrupted by the Samphire Hoe platform which contains the spoil from the Channel Tunnel. Heading towards Folkestone both on the shore and out to sea, the chalk gives way to soft grey clay and then to the lower greensand that can be seen at Copt Point. Twin-shelled molluscs called piddocks live in the holes they bore in the soft chalk and clay here.
Harder rock is rare in the South-East, and the rugged outcropping ridges of Folkestone’s sandstone support many fragile branching sponges, alongside soft corals, fan worms and anemones. Crevices in the rock harbour crustaceans, fish, and even cuttlefish, while the edges are adorned with light-bulb sea squirts or bottlebrush bryozoans.
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. Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee have indicated that this site is at high risk of damage or degradation due to the presence of vulnerable habitats or species within the site.
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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