South Rigg Recommended Marine Conservation Zone

Status: Potential T3 site

Common heart urchin (Credit Paul Naylor) Common heart urchin (Credit Paul Naylor)

Vulnerable to disturbance, tube worms, slender sea pens, heart urchins, mud shrimp and the Dublin Bay prawn all live with the seabed sediments.

South Rigg contains the only known breeding population of ocean quahog clams in the Irish Sea.

Become a Friend of this MCZ

Located between the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, South Rigg is extremely important due to the presence of the Irish Sea Mounds. These rocky outcrops on the sea floor provide a solid base for creatures to settle. There is a myriad of species that call this area home including anemones, brittlestars, sea firs and sea mats, tube worms, slender sea pens, heart urchins, mud shrimps and Dublin Bay prawns.

The world's longest lived animals, ocean quahogs (a type of clam), also live here. Did you know ocean quahogs can live for over 500 years and are used in scientific studies on climate change. They are also an important food source for cod and are not protected anywhere else in the Irish Sea.

Special features of South Rigg:

  • The complex of rockyoutcrops on the seafloor create a home for anemones, sea firs and sea mats
  • Muddy habitats support huge biodiversity, from burrowing sea urchins and sea pens to commercially important Dublin Bay prawns
  • Live juveniles of the ocean quahog have been recorded here, making it the only known breeding population in the Irish Sea area
  • Basking sharks and foraging sea birds have been recorded in the area

Protection of South Rigg would:

  • Preserve a rare habitat type in the Irish Sea; the rocky seabed and muddy habitats
  • Safeguard the ocean quahog population, allowing them to breed and recover without disturbance from trawling
  • Ensure connectivity between protected habitats in the Irish Sea

Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee have also identified this site as being at risk of damage and degradation, in particular to the mud habitats found within the site.

We need your help to ensure that this site is included in tranche 3.
Become a Friend of Marine Conservation Zones today!

Other nearby sites

Slieve Na Griddle  Mud Hole

Location map

South Rigg 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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South Rigg Factsheet.pdf2.79 MB