Studland Bay

Explore the seagrass meadows of Studland Bay, one of 41 special places at sea we want to see protected as a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).

*UPDATE: As of the 31st May, Studland Bay has now been designated a Marine Conservation Zone!

Studland Bay is a very special place. Lying on the Dorset coast, this shallow, sunlit bay is home to an extensive seagrass meadow – one of the best examples on the South Coast.

The seagrass meadows are home to pipefishes and colourful wrasses, as well as breeding populations of both types of seahorse found in British seas - the short-snouted seahorse and the long-snouted (or spiny) seahorse.

The seagrass beds have another vital role to play in the marine ecosystem – they provide perfect nursery areas for the undulate ray and the sea bass, both of which are endangered. Juveniles of commercial species like bream and some flatfish have also been recorded here.

Spiny seahorse, the Wildlife Trusts

Spiny seahorse in seagrass ©Julie Hatcher

Designating Studland Bay as a Marine Conservation Zone will offer much needed protection to these rare and vulnerable species at an important time in their life histories, giving them the time and space to grow. This could potentially benefit the wider population and help towards ensuring these once common species thrive again.

In the wider bay lie sandy plains. These might look barren at first glance, but they support a range of shellfish, including the native oyster, the Chinese-hat shell, hermit crabs and the masked crab. Within the sand live many species of burrowing bivalves and worms such as lugworms and the sandmason worm.

Studland Bay is an important site as it represents the only known breeding site for long-snouted seahorse in the UK, the only site proposed to protect undulate ray in the region and is important for the seagrass beds that are found within the site.

This site, like many of the others we believe should be designated as an MCZ, has been identified as being at high risk of damage and degradation by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee due to the presence of sensitive habitats and species within the site. It’s vital that this site is protected as soon as possible.

Juvenile undulate ray

Juvenile undulate ray ©Andy Jackson

Get Involved

Help protect special areas at sea

Join our Wave of Support and help secure Studland Bay and 40 other new Marine Conservation Zones, each protecting a special area of our seas and the wildlife found there.

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