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Kirkmaiden Community Council

Serving the communities of the Mull of Galloway, Drummore and Port Logan.

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Survey of Marine features within Luce Bay and Sands Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report 738. July 2014


The survey discovered two species classed as ‘UK Biodiversity action Plan Priority Habitats’ www.ukmarinesac.org.uk/communities/biogenic-reefs/br4_2.htm. First Sabellaria reefs - formed by polycheate (many bristles) worms. The worms construct densely packed tubes (see pic below) made of sand grains forming large reefs and the ones found in Luce Bay and along the northern Solway coast are the only confirmed reefs in Western Scotland. The reefs provide a habitat for many different types of flora and fauna such as seaweeds, barnacles, whelks, bivalves, other polycheates, and crustaceans. Second, Maerl Beds. Maerl is the collective name for coraline red algae which grows unattached and can form extensive beds in favourable conditions. Maerl beds belong to the the biotope SS.Smp.Mrl.. High biodiversity is one of the key characteristics of this biotope, which awards its high conservation value. Pristine live maerl beds are important for commercially important queen scallop and other invertebrates such as soft clam, urchins and star fish. The beds have been carbon dated and can live up to 5,500 years. However, maerl has no tolerance for damage and can take millenia to recover. Physical disturbance can degrade Pristine Live Maerl (PLM) into impacted dead maerl.  Maerl beds are regarded as a Priority Marine Feature in Scottish waters and are on the OSPAR list of threatened and endangered habitats. It acts as an important nursery area for marine species. Further information see UK Marine SAC project.  http://www.ukmarinesac.org.uk/communities/maerl/m1_1.htm  

Luce Bay sabellaria reef

Healthy Maerl beds