Home Being involved
Where? Contact us
What's special? Links
Downloads & media
Managment
Downloads
Caves
Estuaries
Grey seals
Mud and sand flats
Lagoons
Lampreys
Large shallow inlets & bays
Otters
Reefs
Saltmarsh
Shads
Shore dock
Subtidal sandbanks
Reefs  

Extensive areas of subtidal rocky reef stretch offshore from the west Pembrokeshire coast, surrounding, between and westwards from the offshore islands and many small rocky islets. The exact distribution of reefs within the site is not yet known but is certainly more extensive than current data shows. As well as off the open coast, rocky reefs extend throughout the Milford Haven waterway. One of the special and unusual characteristics of the Milford Haven waterway is that it includes large amounts of rocky reef far upstream. Intertidal reef covers much of the coastline within the site, particularly the open coast but also within the Milford Haven waterway.

Pink seafanReefs are an important habitat for a huge variety of species. The species and communities found on and around the reefs depends on many things; geology, aspect, topography and wave and tide exposure. Limestone reefs for example have rich species diversity largely because of the structure of the rock surface (it can be pitted, and contain cracks and crevices for animals to live in). Some animals can even bore into the rock.

Soft coralsIncluded in the huge variety of species associated with reefs are populations that are rare, scarce, new to science, edge of range, particularly well developed or exceptionally good examples of their type, slow-growing, long-lived, possibly infrequently recruiting and structurally fragile.

Jewel anemonesSkomer Marine Nature Reserve has the best studied reef habitat within the site. Long-term monitoring sites are set up on both intertidal and subtidal rock. Steep subtidal walls off the north coast of Skomer are covered with soft corals (Alcyonium digitatum and A.glomeratum), pink sea-fans Eunicella verrucosa (a biodiversity action plan species), and turfs of seamats, hydroids, sponges and anemones. Mobile species such as lobsters (Homarus gammarus), spiny starfish (Marthasterias glacialis), urchins (Echinus esculentus) and territorial wrasse are found here.

On the south side of Skomer Island, large silted boulders and rock plateaux display rich sponge communities and rarities such as the nationally scarce scarlet and gold star coral Balanophyllia regia.


SIR BENFRO FOROL
ARDAL CADWRAETH ARBENNIG
PEMBROKESHIRE MARINE
SPECIAL AREA OF CONSERVATION