Selsey Bill and the Hounds Recommended MCZ

Status: On hold

Corkwing wrasse (Credit Polly Whyte / earthinfocus)Corkwing wrasse (Credit Polly Whyte / earthinfocus)

Remarkable and unusual outcrops of limestone and clay are captured within this area.

The Hounds limestone reef lies in relatively shallow water (0-8m) and is covered by a fascinating array of sponges, sea squirts and soft coral.

Situated to the south-east of Selsey Bill is the famous Mixon Hole. Thought to be a segment of an ancient river gorge, this almost vertical 20 metre high clay cliff has numerous ledges and crevices which provide homes for many marine species. Species include short-snouted seahorses, squat lobsters and crabs along with red algae and kelp in the shallower parts. Selsey is a crucial foraging area for three species of tern and seals also regularly use this area for foraging. Bottlenose dolphins have also been recorded here.

To the north-west of Selsey Bill, the Hounds limestone reef is covered by a fascinating array of sponges, sea squirts and soft coral. Covering the cliff are numerous holes made by piddocks, a type of mollusc, similar to mussels. Charismatic tompot blennies and leopard-spotted gobies are frequently seen on cliff ledges, while colourful wrasse are often observed near the top of the cliff face.


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StatusThis recommended Marine Conservation Zone is ON HOLD at the moment as Defra has indicated that there is not enough evidence to support designation.

We need you to urge Defra to commit to gathering data as soon as possible and to consider designation of this site in a future tranche:





Have your say

Defra has indicated that although there is enough evidence to support designation for the peat and clay habitat, additional evidence is required to support designation of the site for five additional habitats and features recommended by stakeholders.

If designated, this site would protect one of the most important examples of peat and clay exposures in the region, in the form of the famous and unique Mixon Hole off Selsey Bill, which supports a rich range of flora and fauna and is one of Plantlife’s Important Plant Areas. The site also encloses The Hounds, an unusual limestone and clay reef, which is joins the Mixon Hole on the list of 24 key marine ‘Sites of Nature Conservation Importance’ in Sussex.

Seasearch surveys have been undertaken in the area- a video of one of these dives can be seen on this page and a seahorse has been filmed within a few hundred metres of the MCZ, indicating that the species is highly likely to occur within the boundaries of the MCZ. The rock and subtidal sediments within this site also provide important nursery and feeding grounds for fish species.

We need you to urge Defra to consider designating the site as soon as possible for the peat and clay habitat. Defra should commit gathering the additional evidence needed for this site and to consider its designation in a future tranche.

Dive video of this site

Other nearby MCZs

Pagham Harbour  Utopia

Location map

Selsey Bill and the Hounds recommended MCZ is located in the map below.

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



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Selsey Bill and the Hounds.pdf238.82 KB