SACs in which CFTs are a feature for site selection
Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast
Llyn Peninsula and the Sarnau
This was selected for candidate SAC status because of the excellence of
two Annex I habitats within the area, reefs and sea caves.
To quote from the supporting SNH documentation: "The coast and
inshore waters of Papa Stour comprise a rugged stretch of some of the most exposed rocky
reefs and some of the finest examples of sea caves to be found in the U.K......The
numerous and extensive caves, which have rich faunal turfs on their walls, are the best
examples of their type in Shetland and are among the most extensive of such systems in the
British.....The rocky coastline of Papa Stour is amongst the most exposed in Britain and
both Papa Stour and the adjacent mainland are fringed entirely by bedrock and boulder
reefs which reach depths beyond 30 m. This rocky underwater terrain is rugged, with rock
walls, slopes, gullies, ledges, ridges and boulder slopes which provide a range of reef
habitats for a variety of plant and animal communities....... Communities on circalittoral
rock are characteristic of this area, with the dominant species including the soft coral Alcyonium
digitatum, the feather star Antedon bifida, encrusting coralline algae and the
serpulid Pomatoceros triqueter. Wave exposed gullies have rich, surge-tolerant
communities with turfs of the jewel anemone Corynactis viridis, ascidians and
bryozoans. In the strong tidal streams of the Sound of Papa, boulder reefs and bedrock
ridges are dominated by scour-tolerant organisms such as the hydroid Abietinaria
abietina and the brittlestar Ophiocomina nigra."
Accounts of the subtidal biotopes of Papa Stour are contained in
Hiscock (1986), Howson (1988) and Moss & Ackers (1987). In terms of the density and
variety of CFT biotopes Papa Stour is clearly a site of importance.
Berwickshire and North Northumberland Coast
The SNH recommendation states : "The shore and inshore waters from
St Abbs Head to Alnmouth, including the Farne Islands, comprise a site of unusually high
marine habitat diversity which is of international importance under Annex I. It is
recommended for its complex of extensive and diverse reef habitats, littoral and submerged
sea caves and range of littoral mudflats and sandflats with rich infaunal
The area is also biogeographically interesting. "A sizeable
proportion of the marine species recorded in the area are characteristic of cold water
influences from the sub-arctic, or are Atlantic species which are only rarely found on the
North Sea coast. Several reach their southern or eastern limits of distribution within the
area. There are also good examples present of representative North Sea marine communities
characteristic of the wide range of habitats found."
Reefs are a major element of the recommendation, as is clear from the
following. "The diversity of the reef habitats in this site is particularly high for
the North Sea. These habitats include areas of limestone, an unusual marine habitat in
Britain, sandstone, millstone grit and volcanic outcrops which descend steeply into deep
water around the Farnes and St. Abbs Head. Sublittoral bedrock extends upwards into the
littoral, providing a variety of terraces, overhangs, ridges and gullies, ideal habitats
for diverse reef communities including populations of commercially-important crustaceans,
some rock-boring fauna and extensive kelp forests. Reef habitats extend to the seaward
boundary in many areas including the entire length of the Scottish sector. Along this
stretch of coast, from Fast Castle to the border north of Berwick, inshore bedrock reefs
are the dominant habitat type grading to boulder and cobble and then cobble towards the
seaward boundary. Sublittoral sediments are restricted to small patches in this area
whilst the entire coastline is rocky apart from sandy beaches at Coldingham and Eyemouth.
From Burnmouth south to the border, these inshore sublittoral reefs are primarily rock
platforms whilst north of here the seabed is more broken. The sublittoral cobble, pebble
and gravel reefs swept by tidal currents support communities of high nature conservation
importance, including many northern species."
"St. Abbs Head is a major headland on the North Sea coast and has
a variety of rock types surrounded by deep clear water. Habitats are predominantly rocky
and include sublittoral reefs with gullies, cliffs, platforms, boulders and caves which
extend upwards into the littoral zone as platforms, ridges and gullies. These habitats
have a marked northern component to their fauna and flora apparent in the presence of
species such as the hydroid Thuiaria thuja, the anemone Bolocera tuediae and
the wolf fish Anarichas lupus, all of which are uncommon on the west coast of
Scotland but frequent in the Shetland Islands. The headland supports one of the most
important seabird colonies on the east coast of Scotland."
"The Farne Islands (over 20 small islands and rocky outcrops) are
the only rocky island complex in the North Sea south of Orkney and Norway. As well as a
wide range of littoral and sublittoral reefs with surge gullies, cliffs, tunnels and dense
kelp forests, they have large grey seal and seabird breeding populations."
"Within the Scottish sector of this site, the extensive reef
habitats around the major headland of St. Abbs Head southwards to Eyemouth are considered
to be of particular interest. The relatively deep clear water and strong tidal streams
produce a diverse range of habitats and associated communities which are the best examples
of their kind in the North Sea."
Its importance in terms of density and range of CFT biotopes is very
clear, as is biogeographical importance. There is extensive information available on the
sublittoral environment (Earll, 1981,1982; Edwards, 1983; Kluijver, 1993; Mathers et al.,
1978; Pagett, 1983).
Llyn Peninsula and the Sarnau
This was selected for SAC status partly on the basis of its reefs,
"for which this is considered to be one of the best areas in the United Kingdom"
(CCW recommendation documentation). The following account presents the relevant parts of
the CCW 'Description of marine interest'.
"The diversity of reefs around and offshore of the LLyn Peninsula
and Bardsey Island provide a wide range of habitats that reflect the varied aspects and
exposure to water movement, substratum and topographical features of the coastline. The
varied habitats in areas of bedrock, boulders, cobble, sandy rock, surge gullies and the
tideswept areas of Bardsey Sound support a diverse array of plant and animal communities.
There are distinctive communities on bedrock and boulders from sites exposed to very
strong wave action and/or tidal streams, to sites sheltered from strong water
"The Sarnau (Sarn Badrig, Sarn-y-Bwlch and Cynfelyn Patches) are
very unusual shallow subtidal reefs which extend into Cardigan Bay from the coast. .......
Fast tidal currents and strong wave action have a profound influence on the marine
communities occurring on the Sarnau, and the reefs as a whole are characterised by a large
number of species resistant to scour and sand cover. Algal communities are dominant over
much of the reef........ Rich animal populations are found in the slightly deeper parts of
the reefs, with a wide variety of animal species present in some locations including
crustaceans, coelenterates, sponges, hydroids, and encrusting bryozoans."
"There is an extremely well developed cave system around the St
Tudwal's Islands that includes both littoral and sublittoral components and contains
habitats of high conservation interest and unusual species communities. There is also a
completely submerged cave at Pen-y-cil which penetrates from west to east through the
A site of importance for CFT biotopes which clearly provides a wide
diversity of environments. Accounts of the sublittoral environment are given by Hiscock