Site details

UK map showing location of Sanday Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Sanday SAC/SCI/cSAC


When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

1170 Reefs
Sanday is a large, low-lying island in the north-east of the Orkney archipelago. Surrounded by clear, relatively shallow water, the island has a complex coastline dominated by extensive sandy beaches and sheltered inlets, interspersed with rocky headlands. Sanday is notable for the extensive subtidal bedrock reefs that surround the island and provide a habitat for dense forests of kelp Laminaria spp. The kelp occurs to a depth of about 20 m and provides a habitat for species-rich, red algal turf communities. Sponges, such as Clathrina coriacea, and ascidians, such as Aplidium punctum, occur on the vertical rock faces. The north coast of Sanday is tide-swept and appears to support a richer fauna than the south coast, with a dense bryozoan/hydroid turf and dense brittlestar and horse mussel Modiolus modiolus beds in mixed sediment below the kelp zone. Crabs and brittlestars are common within crevices in the rock.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

1110 Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time
1140 Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

1365 Harbour seal  Phoca vitulina
Sanday is situated in the north-east of the Orkney archipelago and supports the largest group of Harbour seal Phoca vitulina at any discrete site in Scotland. The breeding groups, found on intertidal haul-out sites that are unevenly distributed around the Sanday coast, represent over 4% of the UK population. Nearshore kelp beds that surround Sanday are important foraging areas for the seals, and the colony is linked to a very large surrounding population in the Orkney archipelago.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.

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