Studland to Portland SAC

Studland to Portland is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) comprising two sections with varying and distinct geology and geomorphology:

Studland Bay to Ringstead Bay Reefs

Numerous areas of reef exist in this area ranging from exposed chalk bedrock to exposed shales and clays, limestone and cementstone ledges and boulders. This provides for a variety of reef habitat, including:
  • Soft chalk bedrock reef between Ballard Cliffs and Handfast Point
  • Evan’s Rock, a gently sloping mound in the outer limits of Swanage Bay which has a flat top covered with small boulders and cobbles separated by small areas of shelly sand
  • St. Albans ledge, a unique reef feature extending out over 10km offshore subject to strong tidal action
  • An area of large limestone blocks known as the “seabed caves” east of St. Albans ledge
  • A series of limestone ledges up to 15m across south of Worbarrow Bay which supports populations of the pink sea fan Eunicella verrucosa
  • Lulworth Banks, a distinct area of reef comprising a mosaic of habitat types including rocky ledges, sediment covered rock and mixed sediments

  Portland Reefs

An area surrounding Portland Bill characterised by flat bedrock, limestone ledges, large boulders and cobbles. The mosaic of habitats provides deep gullies and overhangs that support a range of marine life including cup corals, sponges, anemones, nudibranchs and hydroids.
Mussel beds (Mytilus edulis) beds are found to occur on the bedrock exposed to strong currents on the east of Portland Bill. These also occur in high numbers in the infralittoral zone of the eastern reefs amongst kelp forests.

Further information on the site can be found in the Studland to Portland SAC Conservation Advice Package produced by Natural England.

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