The Swale Estuary Recommended Marine Conservation Zone

MCZ Tranche 2

Greater pipefish (Credit Jason Armstrong) Greater pipefish (Credit Jason Armstrong)

Here, greater pipefish, close cousins to the seahorses, come to feed in the shallow water.

Seals use these waters to forage for food, and haul out on Horse Sands to rest at low tide.

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Between the north Kent coast and the Isle of Sheppey is an area well known for the birds which come to feed on the abundance of life in and on the rich muddy seabed. Seals also use these waters to forage for food, and haul out on Horse Sands to rest at low tide.

The Swale forms an important spawning and nursery area for several species of fish, which can find shelter in the seagrass and mussel beds in addition to the muddy gravel. Here, greater pipefish, close cousins to the seahorses, come to feed in the shallow water.

Off Whitstable, the famous shingle spit known as‘The Street’ is surrounded by areas of colourful red, green and brown seaweeds and beds of peacock worms with their beautiful whorls of tentacles.

This site is very important for the network. Defra’s consultation states it is highly biodiverse , and proposes 13 features for protection . These include 9 broad habitat types and two species (native oyster and rare fish called smelt), and two habitat features of conservation importance. Defra notes that the site contains some of the best examples of exposed London Clay, a habitat feature which is irreplaceable, having been formed millions of years ago. It also contains rare algal communities on shingle and important fish nursery and spawning grounds. The proposed protection of subtidal habitats will complement the existing protected areas on the shores of the Swale. There are indications that there is good scope for shellfish recovery within the site if it is protected.

It is disappointing that 5 other features present in the site have been omitted from the list for protection, due to insufficient evidence.

StatusThis recommended Marine Conservation Zone is under consideration for the second tranche of MCZs.


This site is important as it contains some of the best examples of exposed London Clay at several locations within the site as well as rare algal communities on shingle and important fish nursery and spawning grounds. There are also indications that there is good scope for shellfish recovery within the site if it is protected.

This site has been identified as being at risk of damage and degradation by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee due to the presence of sensitive features within the site.

We need you to help ensure that this site is designated. Become a Friend of this site to stay up-to-date with The Wildlife Trusts' campaign to see how you can help.


 
Dive video of this site

Other nearby sites:

Thanet Coast

Location map

The Swale Estuary 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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