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Endangered, Threatened and Protected Species

The term Endangered, Threatened and Protected Species (ETP Species) refers to species which are listed as endangered, threatened or protected under national and international legislation. This includes species which are designated under Marine Protected Area legislation within Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). For those managing the marine environment, it is important that activities are not having a negative impact on these species.

The Southern IFCA, Poole and District Fishermen's Association (PDFA), Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) and Noctiluca Marine have been working together on ensuring that there is no negative impact to any ETP species in Poole Harbour from the Poole Harbour Clam and Cockle Fishery. This fishery was certified under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Standard in 2018 and, since this time, further innovations have been made in the fishery to maintain and improve methods of protecting ETP species.
Please click here for more information on the Poole Harbour Clam and Cockle Fishery
Please click here to visit the MSC website page on the Poole Harbour Clam and Cockle Fishery

As part of The Poole Harbour Clam and Cockle Fishery Partnership Project, funded by the MSC Ocean Stewardship Fund, the project partners have been providing training and educational materials to fishers and the wider public on recognising ETP species. Fishers have been provided with an ID guide for use on the water identifying the most commonly seen ETP species in Poole Harbour. A copy of this guide can be viewed here.

This webpage, linked to the ID guide, provides further information on ETP species which are found in Poole Harbour and provides links to additional information sources. 

Please use this list to navigate to different groups of species:
Bird species
Fish species
Other species

As part of the Partnership Project, an 'Endangered, Threatened & Protected (ETP) Species Risk Management Strategy' has also been developed, aiming to outline an adaptive approach to management of ETP species utilising significant stakeholder involvement. This Strategy explores the outcomes of the Partnership Project and aims to be applicable to other fisheries, particularly in the small-scale (<10m) inshore sector where fishing activity overlaps with conservation features, and aims to provide guidance to fisheries exploring Marine Stewardship Council certification. 

The Endangered, Threatened & Protected (ETP) Species Risk Management Strategy can be viewed here.


Bird Species

Avocet
( Recurvirostra avosetta )

A distinctly patterned black and white wader with a long up-curved beak (RSPB website). The most common locations for this species are Brownsea lagoon on a high tide where almost the entire wintering flock can be found in one roost. Another common location is the Wych and Middlebere Channels mid-tide from November to February where they feed along the channel. Other feeding areas include Lytchett Bay, Holes Bay and Arne Bay. Birds start arriving in the Harbour in late July with numbers peaking by September. The bird start to leave again through February and into March (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

42-45cm

Wingspan

77-80cm

Weight

260-290g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/avocet/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=A

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Black-tailed godwit
( Limosa limosa islandica )

A large wading bird which has a bright orangey-brown chest and belly in summer but are more greyish-brown in winter. They have long beaks and legs with black and white stripes on their wings. Females are larger and heavier than males with a noticeably longer beak (RSPB website). Brownsea lagoon and Middlebere are common locations for this species mid-winter. Other large flocks can be found in Brands Bay, Lytchett Bay, Holes Bay and Arne Bay (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

40-44cm

Wingspan

70-82cm

Weight

280-340g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/black-tailed-godwit/
https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=B

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Common tern
( Sterna hirundo )

A silvery-grey and white bird with a long tail. They exhibit buoyant, graceful flight and frequently hover over water before plunging for a fish, they are noisy in a group and breed in colonies (RSPB website). Brownsea Island is the only breeding site in the Harbour for this species. Can often be seen heading out of the harbour mouth to feed (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

31-35cm

Wingspan

77-98cm

Weight

90-150g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/common-tern/
https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=C

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Cormorant
( Phalacrocorax carbo )

A large, black and conspicuous waterbird with a long neck, often seen standing with its wings held out to dry (RSPB website). This species is common at many sites around the harbour later in the year but numbers increase in autumn and winter where they occasionally join large rafts off Shipstal, Brownsea Island and the Wareham Channel. Juveniles of the sinensis species are found in large numbers on Brownsea in August and September and can form large rafts by later October in the centre of the harbour. Spring adults of the sinensis species can be seen in the Wareham Channel or on Brownsea lagoon (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

80-100cm

Wingspan

130-160cm

Weight

2.1-2.5kg


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/cormorant/
https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=C

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Curlew
( Numenius arquata )

The largest European wading bird with a long, downcurved bill, brown upperparts, long legs and a distinctive call (RSPB website). Common throughout the harbour, especially during winter spread through the southern and western bays. On a low tide during winter they can be found on almost any exposed mud around the harbour (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

50-60cm

Wingspan

80-100cm

Weight

575-1000g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/curlew/
https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=C

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Dark-bellied brent goose
( Branta bernicla )

A small, dark goose of similar size to a mallard. It has a black head and neck and a grey-brown back with a dark belly. Adults have a small white neck patch (RSPB website). The species arrives in the Harbour in October and feeds in various locations. Individuals have been noted to linger into the spring and, occasionally through the summer although these are believed to be sick birds. The largest flocks can be seen at Middlebere, Newton Bay and Baiter. Smaller flocks have been observed at Evening Hill, Studland Bay and Brands Bay (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

56-61cm

Wingspan

110-120cm

Weight

1.3-1.6kg


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/brent-goose/
https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=D

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Dunlin
( Calidris alpina )

This species is the most common small wader found along the coast. It has a slightly down-curved bill and a distinctive black belly patch in breeding plumage (RSPB website). Brownsea lagoon, Arne, Lytchett Fields and various yacht clubs around the Harbour have all be noted as roost locations for Dunlin with arrival of individuals in autumn (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

16-20cm

Wingspan

35-40cm

Weight

40-50g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/dunlin/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=D

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Eurasian spoonbill
( Platalea leucorodia )

Tall white waterbirds with long spatulate black bills and long black legs (RSPB website). Spoonbill can be seen on Brownsea Lagoon (Aug-Oct), Shipstal Point, Arne (Oct-Mar), the Wareham Channel at low tide (Oct-Mar), in the Middlebere Channel depending on the tide (Aug-Apr), the sand spit in front of Shipstal, Brands Bay, Lytchett Bay and Holes Bay during severe cold weather (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

80-90cm

Wingspan

120-135cm

Weight

1.3-2kg


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/spoonbill/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=S

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Goldeneye
( Bucephala calngula )

A medium sized diving duck. Males are black and white with a greenish black head and a circular white patch in front of the yellow eye. Females are smaller and are mottled grey with a chocolate brown head. A large area of white is shown in the inner wing during flight (RSPB website). This species can be seen anywhere across the open water area of the Harbour during winter. Shipstal Point at Arne, the Wareham Channel and Brands Bay are also common sites for this species.

Measurements:

Length

42-50cm

Wingspan

65-80cm

Weight

650-1200g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/goldeneye/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=G

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Greenshank
( Tringa nebularia )

A medium-sized slim wader with a dark grey back and white underparts. Individuals have long green legs and a slightly upturned bill which distinguishes it from other waders (RSPB website). This species can be present in the Harbour every month of the year with peak numbers in August – October. Brownsea Island, Lytchett Fields and Middlebere are the key sites for this species (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

32cm

Wingspan

69cm

Weight

190g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/greenshank/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/page/2/?letter=G

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Little egret
( Egretta garzetta )

A small white heron with white plumes on the crest, back and chest, black legs and bill and yellow feet. A species which overwinters in Poole Harbour, arriving late summer. Often seen on Brownsea Island and at the north-west end of Little Sea where the birds arrive in the evening up to two hours before dusk (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

55-65cm

Wingspan

88-95cm

Weight

350-550g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/little-egret/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=L

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Mediterranean gull
( Larus melanocephalus )

The Mediterranean gull has an all-black head in the breeding season and is slightly larger than a black-headed gull. Adults have white wing tips and under wings and younger birds have more wing markings. The beak is large and slightly drooped and is bright red in adults (RSPB website). Flight to and from feeding sites takes birds over the north-west of the Harbour with highest numbers recorded in Lytchett Bay and the Wareham Channel. In winter birds can be seen feeding off the beaches at Studland and in the summer along the shoreline of Whitley Lake and Baiter beach at low tide (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

36-38cm

Wingspan

92-100cm

Weight

230-280g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/mediterranean-gull/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=M

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Pochard
( Aythya farina )

Male pochards are very distinctive in winter and spring with a bright reddish-brown head, a black breast and tail and a pale grey body. Females are brown with a greyish body and pale cheeks and are more easily confused with other species. When the species grows new feathers males and females look similar (RSPB website). The majority of the wintering population have been found at Little Sea with smaller numbers at Brownsea Island and in Poole Park (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

46cm

Wingspan

77cm

Weight

930g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/pochard/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=P

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Red-breasted merganser
( Mergus serrator )

This species of diving duck has a long-serrated bill with males and females having different identifying features depending on sex, age, and season. Information on these identifying features can be found on the RSPB website. This species can be seen in large rafts on open water throughout the Harbour. A large evening roost occurs between Furzey Island and Round Island where the birds mix with Goldeneye and Great Crested Grebe. Other locations where this species is found in the winter are Brands Bay, Bramble Bush Bay and the outer bays of the Harbour (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

52-58cm

Wingspan

70-86cm

Weight

900-1350g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/red-breasted-merganser/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=R

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Sandwich tern
( Sterna sandvicensis )

A very white tern, with a black cap on its head, a long black bill with a yellow tip and short black legs (RSPB website). Spring migrants arrive from mid-March and nesting begins in late April. See sporadically around the harbour during the nesting period with birds keeping nearer the harbour mouth as they go out and feed (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

36-41cm

Wingspan

95-105cm

Weight

210-260g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/sandwich-tern/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=S

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Shelduck
Tadorna tadorna )

A big, colourful duck, bigger than a mallard but smaller than a goose. Both sexes have a dark green head and neck, a chestnut belly stripe and a red bill (RSPB website). Adults arrive in the harbour in October. Breeding is over by July at which point local creches of youngsters can be seen and the balance of adults leave the harbour. They have been found to breed at Brownsea Island, Arne, Lytchett Bay, Green Island, Brands Bay, Goathorn Point, Newton Bay, Fitzworth and Studland (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

58-65cm

Wingspan

1.1-1.33m

Weight

0.85-1.4kg


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/shelduck/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=S

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Spotted redshank
( Tringa erythropus )

A medium sized elegant wading bird, slightly larger than a redshank. In summer plumage the adults are almost entirely black, save for some white ‘spotting’ on the wings, a white ‘wedge’ on the back showing clearly in flight and a barred tail. In winder they have a grey back and paler under parts with a more prominent eye stripe than a redshank and lacking the white wing bars (RSPB website). Traditional wintering site in the north-east corner of Holes Bay and Brownsea Lagoon from Oct-Mar. Birds on passage can be seen at Middlebere, Brands Bay and Arne Bay (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

29-31cm

Wingspan

61-67cm

Weight

140-200g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/spotted-redshank/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=S

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Teal
( Anas crecca )

Teal are small dabbling ducks. Males have a chestnut-coloured head with broad green eye patches, a spotted chest, grey flanks, and a black edged yellow tail. Females are a mottled brown colour. Both males and females show bright green wing patches during flight (RSPB website). Displaying teal can be found at Little Sea or Holes Bay around dawn in March and early April. Breeding is known to occur in Poole Harbour although the specific location is not always known. Breeding pairs have been observed at Brownsea Island, Studland, Ham Lake, Lytchett and Arne (Birds of Poole Harbour website).

Measurements:

Length

34-38cm

Wingspan

58-64cm

Weight

240-360g


Links:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/teal/ https://www.birdsofpooleharbour.co.uk/birds/?letter=T

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Fish Species

Atlantic salmon
( Salmo salar )

A large silvery fish with a few dark spots on the back and a pinkish flush to the belly (Dorset Wildlife Trust website). They can be distinguished from sea trout by the V-shape in the tail, by having fewer spots below the lateral line and the body shape being slender and more streamlined. The caudal wrist is also more slender and the mouth does not extend beyond the eye. This species transitions through estuaries and coastal areas during the upstream migration to their natal river during spring through to winter. Downstream migrating juveniles can also be found in estuaries in spring and early summer. The main migration window for both adults and smolts within these timings varies with individual rivers.

Measurements:

Length

1.2-1.5m

Weight

Up to 40kg

Average Lifespan:

Up to 13 years


Links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/freshwater-fish/atlantic-salmon

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Common/European sturgeon
 

A large, long-lived fish recognisable by the bony body armour and prehistoric appearance. It is one of Europe’s most threatened fish and is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). It can rarely be found in estuaries as it spawns in large rivers (Nature Scotland website).

Measurements:

Length

Up to >3m

Weight

Up to >200kg

Average Lifespan:

Up to 50 years


Links:

https://www.nature.scot/plants-animals-and-fungi/fish/freshwater-fish/other-freshwater-fish

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European or Common eel
( Anguilla anguilla )

Long and snake-like in shape with a tough, slimy skin. The dorsal fin starts behind the gill slits and small pectoral fins and runs the length of the body where it merges with the ventral fin. Colouration varies from black to brown to olive green on the upper side with paler more yellowish colouring on the underside. Individuals become silver when sexually maturing. Adults are most abundant in estuaries and around the lower coast and are commonly inactive during the day.

Measurements:

Length

Commonly <1m


Links:

  https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1782

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Sea lamprey
( Petromyzon marinus )

Sea Lamprey have a long, slender eel-like body with eyes on either side of the head. The gills are made up of 7 holes on either side of the body rather than gill slits and there is a single nostril on the top of the head. The dorsal fins are set back and there are no pectoral, pelvic or anal fins. Colouration varies from black to a mottled dark green to yellow on the upper side with a pale underside. They are parasitic and around found in both marine and freshwater (British Sea Fishing website).

Measurements:

Length

1ft – 3ft


Links:

https://britishseafishing.co.uk/sea-lamprey/

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Sea trout
( Salmo trutta )

A medium to large fish that can either be resident in freshwater (brown trout) or migratory (sea trout). Colouration is golden-brown with a dark back and creamy-yellow belly, it is smaller than the Atlantic salmon (Dorset Wildlife Trust). They can be distinguished from Atlantic salmon by the more square or convex tail and by being more heavily spotted below the lateral line. The overall body shape is rounder and more thickset and the caudal wrist is broader. The mouth also extends beyond the rear of the eye. Migratory fish of this species can be found in estuaries between February and December on their upstream migration and downstream moving smolts can be found in estuaries from early spring to early summer. The main migration window for both adults and smolts within these timings varies with individual rivers.

Measurements:

Length

50-80cm

Weight

Up to 14kg

Average Lifespan:

15-20 years


Links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/freshwater-fish/brown-trout

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Twite shad ( Alosa fallax )
Allis shad ( Alosa alosa )

These are the two species of shad round in UK waters. The two species are very similar however the Allis shad can grow to a larger size. The other distinguishing characteristic is that Allis shard have more than 70 scales along the lateral line where as Twaite shad have less than 70, and Allis shad have more than 90 gill rakes whereas Twaite shad have fewer gill rakers. Due to the difficulties in distinguishing between the two species much of the biological information relates to both species. The species are very rare and are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), they must not be specifically targeted and if caught accidentally must be returned immediately to the sea without injury or harm (British Sea Fishing website).

Measurements:

Length

25-50cm

Weight

< 1lb to 5lb (Allis) or 2lb (Twaite)


Links:

https://britishseafishing.co.uk/shad/#IUCN-confusion

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Other Species

Common seal
( Phoca vitulina )

The common seal is smaller than the grey seal and has a shorter head and a more concave forehead. The nostrils are v-shaped and vary in colour from blonde to black but are generally grey with dark spots. They are found in sheltered shores and estuaries where they haul out on sandbanks and beaches (Dorset Wildlife Trust website).

Measurements:

Length

Up to 2m

Weight

65-150kg

Average Lifespan:

20-35 years


Links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/marine/marine-mammals-and-sea-turtles/common-seal

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Grey seal
( Halichoerus grypus )

The grey seal is the larger of the two UK seal species and have a longer head with a distinctive ‘roman nose’ profile. Their nostrils are parallel rather than v-shaped and they are mainly grey in colour, with the pattern of darker blotches and spots being used to identify individual animals. As with the common seal they can be seen hauled out on beaches (Dorset Wildlife Trust website).

Measurements:

Length

Up to 2.6m

Weight

200-300kg

Average Lifespan:

30-40 years


Links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/marine/marine-mammals-and-sea-turtles/grey-seal

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Long-snouted seahorse
( Hippocampus guttulatus )

Long-snouted seahorses have a longer snout than the short-snouted seahorses. They also have fleshy protuberances along the back which looks like a horse’s mane or small spines. It has an angular body framed by tubercles, a prehensile tail and is usually a greenish-yellow colour. They live in shallow coastal waters and rely on the prehensile tail to attach to seaweed and seagrass (Dorset Wildlife Trust website).

Measurements:

Length

15cm


Links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/marine/fish-sharks-skates-and-rays/long-snouted-seahorse

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Shot-snouted seahorse
( Hippocampus hippocampus )

Short-snouted seahorses are found in shallow waters, commonly in estuaries or areas of seagrass. This species has a short, upturned snout which is less then 1/3 of the length of the head. The body is curved with an angled head and a curled, prehensile tail. Unlike other seahorse species, the short-snouted seahorse does not have a mane. Colouration varies from light brown to mottled purple (Wildlife Trust website).

Measurements:

Length

15cm


Links:

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/marine/fish-sharks-skates-and-rays/short-snouted-seahorse

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