Example of marine life

Lundy Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

The wealth of marine life which surrounds the island of Lundy remained largely undiscovered until the development of the aqualung allowed marine biologists to study the seabed at first hand. It soon became apparent that there was an amazing array of marine animals and plants to be found within a small area of seabed. One reason for this is because of the wide variety of underwater habitats which exists around the island. These range from steep cliffs and boulder slopes, sand-filled gullies and canyons, to extensive plains of mud and gravel.

Many marine species tend to be quite choosy about where they live and Lundy provides a range of suitable sites. Some of these are subjected to strong tidal streams, especially off the north and south ends of the island, so only those organisms which can become firmly attached survive here. Where there is more shelter from the tides and waves, for instance off the southern half of the east coast, the silt carried in the water settles out forming a quite different habitat of mud and muddy sand.


Recreation within the Marine Conservation Zone

The Marine Conservation Zone Zoning scheme has been established to present clearly, information related to the management of the Marine Conservation Zone, for the benefit of both wildlife and people, by showing users where they can undertake activities with minimal impact on the natural features and on each other. Since 2003 a large area on the east side of Lundy has been designated as a "No Take Zone". By following the zoning scheme you can help ensure that the Marine Conservation Zone continues to be a special place. For many years, Lundy has proved a popular destination for yachts and other boats from the mainland. Upon reaching the island, all such craft are encouraged to anchor within the Landing Bay or other recognised anchorages, so that possible anchor damage to delicate seabed wildlife elsewhere can be avoided.

Anchoring within 100 metres of the Knoll Pins, where there are high concentrations of delicate and rare animals and plants, is not allowed.

Lundy is also a popular diving destination both for those able to reach the island from the mailand at weekends, and for those who stay on the island for the week. Divers are expected to act responsibly within the Marine Conservation Zone and to adhere to the sign-posted bye-laws and code of conduct. A leaflet detailing them is freely available. For those wishing to find out more about what they encounter underwater, a number of displays, photographic identification guides and leaflets are available on the island.


The need for conservation

The waters around Lundy possess an outstanding variety of marine habitats and wildlife together with a large number of rare and unusual species. However, we still have a lot to learn about this alien underwater world. The future well-being of the species and habitats within the Marine Conservation Zone will depend to a large extent upon our ability to deal with potential threats to them. These may even result from activities taking place some distance upstream of the island, for instance the dumping of sewage, or gravel extraction. Alternatively they may be closer at hand and include the introduction of new, potentially damaging fishing techniques. It is essential that all the resources of the Marine Conservation Zone are appropriately protected so that future generations may also enjoy them.

As part of a programme to monitor the overall health of the Marine Conservation Zone, a number of studies have been set up, designed to help safeguard the marine plants and animals and at the same time add to our limited knowledge of their biology. One such study aims to examine the natural fluctuations in populations and the life span of species of high conservation value.

These include some species of seaweed, branching sponges, sea fans and cup corals. Another is the varying levels of suspended matter in the water which affect the amount of sunlight penetrating the surface layers and consequently the growth of seaweeds on the seabed.

Unlike the wildlife habitats on land, those under water which are in a largely natural condition require little active management by man. Instead, wardening of the Marine Conservation Zone is mainly concerned with promoting people's understanding of marine life through the use of displays, leaflets and educational walks on the seashore. To ensure that the underwater habitats and species are safeguarded within the Marine Conservation Zone there are the bye-laws which have been introduced by English Nature and the Devon Sea Fisheries Committee. But above all, the management and protection of Lundy's Marine Conservation Zone relies on the co-operation of all those who use the area, including fishermen, divers and yacht owners - as well as those who simply enjoy being by the sea.

The Marine Conservation Zone is administered by Natural England, please contact them for further information - or talk to the Warden when you are on the island.

These is also a dedicated website for the MCZ.