Report 410
North West Irish Sea mounds: Hard and soft substrata habitats
(2008)
Mellor, A., Mitchell, A., Strong, J., Rooney, L., Service, M
The North West Irish Sea Mounds are a group of bedrock outcrops in a region of the Irish Sea known as the North Channel, which separates Northern Ireland and Scotland (Figure 1). These mounds were originally identified and mapped by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (Admiralty Charts) and British Geological Survey (BGS) who described them as bedrock outcrops in an otherwise fairly homogeneous, deep sedimentary region.

Summary

 
 
 

Since June 2003, a number of acoustic and biological surveys have been conducted in the area of the North Channel north west of the Isle of Man adjacent to the boundary of the NW Irish Sea “mud patch”.  The area has been identified as a potential offshore SAC (Special Area of Conservation) for Annex I reef habitat, principally rocky reef habitat.

 

In June 2006, the area was mapped using multi-beam sonar and a number of potential habitat features identified. A series of cruises attempting to characterise the primary biological features of the area were undertaken in November 2006 and January/February 2007.

 

The report contains the interpretation of both the soft bottom infauna data and epifauna data together with supporting physical descriptors.  Based on the Natura 2000 Code 1170 definition of reefs/ EC Habitats Directive Interpretation Manual, the report concludes that this site represents Annex I reef habitat.

 

A number of important sub-features in the area are also discussed, in particular small pockets of firmer sediment between rock surfaces were often characterised by dense tube worm communities (Galathowenia oculata and Melinna palmata).  The main anthropogenic activity in the area is commercial fishing.


 
 
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ISSN 0963 8901
 
Please cite as: Mellor, A., Mitchell, A., Strong, J., Rooney, L., Service, M, (2008), North West Irish Sea mounds: Hard and soft substrata habitats, JNCC Report 410, ISSN 0963 8901