Luce Bay and Sands

Site details

UK map showing location of Luce Bay and Sands Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Luce Bay and Sands 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

1160 Large shallow inlets and bays
Luce Bay and Sands represents a high-quality large shallow inlet and bay. The sediments within Luce Bay range from mixed-sized boulders, deep sediments and highly mobile fringing sands, all of which support rich plant and animal communities typical of a large embayment in south-west Scotland. Water depths in Luce Bay are shallow, ranging from 0-10 m fringing the coastline and at the head of the bay. Shallow depths extend further out into the bay where the major sandbanks are located along the western and northern shores. The water deepens to 20 m at the site boundary between the two headlands. Most of the intertidal area of the bay comprises small boulders, often resting on sediment. Some larger boulders on the lower shores have spaces beneath and between them which provide shelter for false Irish moss Mastocarpus stellatus and permit rich under-boulder communities to develop, including ascidians, sponges and crustose coralline algae. In the subtidal area mixed boulders and sediment harbour a shallow-water community of sparse kelp Laminaria hyperborea and sea-oak Halidrys siliquosa, red algae and the dahlia anemone Urticina felina, typical of sand-influenced hard substrata. Much of the central part of Luce Bay consists of slightly deeper-water sediments that support a rich community of polychaete worms, bivalves, echinoderms, brittlestars, particularly Ophiura spp. The holothurian Labidoplax digitata has also been recorded in the bay. At Mull of Galloway in the west and Scare Rocks near the seaward boundary of the bay, tide-swept rocky reefs support L. hyperborea on shallow sublittoral rocks and very rich sponge- and hydroid-dominated communities below 10 m.
2110 Embryonic shifting dunes
Torrs Warren Luce Sands in south-west Scotland is an example of the northern variant of Embryonic shifting dunes, with lyme-grass Leymus arenarius dominant. The length of the dune front at this site, combined with its comparative inaccessibility, helps to ensure that there is an identifiable zone of embryonic shifting dune vegetation. Lyme-grass is well-represented to the seaward edge of the fixed dune, which shows zonation to marram Ammophila arenaria.
2120 "Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria (""white dunes"")"
Torrs Warren Luce Sands is a very large site in south-west Scotland, with examples of two types of shifting dune vegetation. The foredunes are morphologically less active than other sites in this part of the UK, with less sand accretion and erosion. Nevertheless, there is sufficient sand accretion to support a narrow band of Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria, with associated species such as sand sedge Carex arenaria and red fescue Festuca rubra. In addition, shifting dune vegetation with marram is found on blow outs, where active sand movement is occurring in the semi-fixed dunes that form the landward part of the site.
2130 "Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation (""grey dunes"")"  * Priority feature
This large, acidic dune system in south-west Scotland lies on the north side of the Solway Firth. There are a range of dune types, providing considerable diversity and complexity along with associated dune slack, fen and heath habitats. The area contains a wide range of flowering plants and invertebrates typical of fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation.
2150 Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes (Calluno-Ulicetea)  * Priority feature
Torrs Warren Luce Sands is the largest acidic dune system in south-west Scotland and supports extensive areas of Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes (Calluno-Ulicetea). It contains a variety of dune landforms and therefore a complex mosaic of dune habitats. Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris is extensive and occupies the drier dune areas. The dunes are relatively undisturbed and are more or less free from grazing by domestic livestock, resulting in relatively stable vegetation communities.

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
1170 Reefs

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

1166 Great crested newt  Triturus cristatus

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.