Farnes East Marine Conservation Zone

Status: protected


White-beaked dolphins, Northumberland © Martin Kitchin

Marine mammals, from harbour porpoise to leaping white-beaked dolphins are often spotted in Northumberland's waters.

Farnes East is one of the few sites within the North Sea to include mud habitats, important for delicate blonde and red sea pens.

Located 11km off the Northumberland coast within close proximity to the Farne Islands, Farnes East is made up of a range of habitats from rock and mixed coarse sediment to sand and peat and clay exposures. Depths range from 30 -100 metres which results in animal communities dominating the site.
This site is important for mud, being one of the few recommended MCZs in the North Sea to include this habitat. Mud is an important substrate and ideal for delicate blonde and red sea pens and burrowing animals like nephrops (langoustine) and ocean quahog. Ocean quahog is a large bivalve that can live up to 100 years and is an important food source for North Sea cod, which buries itself in the mud, often completely with just a tube sticking out the top of the mud for feeding and breathing.

To the south of the site the glacial channel known as the Farne Deeps is a highly productive area of upwelling where nutrient rich waters give rise to plankton blooms, attracting animal plankton, fish and resulting in areas with large numbers of seabirds and cetaceans. Farnes East has been identified as being of particular importance for foraging and breeding white-beaked dolphins with regular sightings recorded.

Why not check out the video diary of the white beaked dolphin survey in the Farnes East rMCZ  



Location map

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

Coquet to St Marys


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farnes_east.pdf2.51 MB