North West Rockall Bank

Site details

UK map showing location of North West Rockall Bank Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of North West Rockall Bank SAC/SCI/cSAC
 

Note:

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
Rockall Bank is an offshore bank situated in the North East Atlantic, approximately 400 kilometres west of the Outer Hebrides. It is oriented northeast to southwest, and is approximately 450 kilometres in length and 200 kilometres wide (Howell et al., 2009). Depth ranges from over 1000m at the base of the Rockall Bank, to 200m across much of the top. The centre of the bank breaks the surface forming a rocky island outcrop around 25 metres wide and 20 metres high. On account of their sheer size, oceanic banks such as Rockall cause the deviation of ocean currents along their flanks. This facilitates the colonization of habitat-forming corals which depend on a consistent supply of current-transported organic matter and zooplankton (Freiwald et al., 2004). Rockall Bank is potentially one of the most extensive sites for biogenic reef formed by cold water coral species in UK waters. Inter-dispersed with the stony reef are sizeable patches of Annex I Lophelia pertusa reef and associated species, including erect sponges and the pencil urchin Cidaris cidaris. Stands of Madrepora oculata, another cold water coral species, are also present (Howell et al., 2009). Evidence from the 1970s suggests that areas of Lophelia pertusa reef up to 30m in diameter existed on the North West Rockall Bank (Wilson, 1979; Davies and Roberts, 2006), though more recent surveys (albeit at different locations in this region) have recorded reefs smaller in size (Howell et al., 2009). Cobble rubble surrounds the living reefs in many places, and supports fauna such as the squat lobster Munida rugosa, the holothurian Stichopus tremulus, brittle stars and encrusting yellow sponges.

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

Not applicable.

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

Not applicable.

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

Not applicable.


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