Hythe Bay recommended Marine Conservation Zone

Status: Potential T3 site

Square crab (Credit Rachel Coppock)Square crab (Credit Rachel Coppock)

The muddy seabed in Hythe Bay is packed with animals like the square crab whose stalked eyes fold neatly into recesses in its shell for protection.

The seabed is peppered with the burrows and tubes of an astonishing variety of marine species.


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Square crabs and green-tongued spoonworms are among the strange and wonderful creatures that burrow out their homes in the soft mud of Hythe Bay. The muddy seabed appears at first sight as no more than gently undulating fine sediment. However, on closer inspection it is peppered with the burrows and tubes of an astonishing variety of species, from tiny crustaceans to graceful anemones which sway gently in the currents.

Sand mason worms construct intricate tubes from grains of sand and shell fragments, while beautifully marked necklace shells and iridescently-bristled sea mice move through the top layers of mud in search of their prey. Neat packages of gelatinous mollusc eggs, attached into the mud by a delicate thread are wafted by water movements. All these animals provide a veritable feast for foraging fish and birds. A dive video of this site was taken in 2013 and can be viewed below.

Although proposed for designation as part of the 2013 Defra consultation, this site is on hold at the moment. This site raised strong opposition from the fishing industry and so the decision to designate has been deferred in order to allow for further disussion with local fishing representatives to find a compromise that meets industry wishes and enable conservation of the site to be achieved. We remain involved in dialogue over this site and will continue to push for its designation and protection.

We need your help to ensure this site is included in tranche 3.
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Dive video of this site

Other nearby potential sites

Dover to Folkestone  

Folkestone Pomerania

Location map

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


FilenameFile size
Hythe Bay Factsheet.pdf2.06 MB