The Eastern English Channel (2005-2006)


Dead man's fingers (Alcyonium digitatum), common starfish (Asterias rubens) and hornwrack (Flustra foliacea) © Cefas/JNCCCircalittoral rock with coarse sediment with encrusting bryozoans © Cefas/JNCCElephant’s hide sponge (Pachymatisma johnstonia) © Cefas/JNCC


JNCC was a collaborative partner on this project, working with Cefas, the British Geological Survey and Marine Ecological Surveys Ltd. The survey was funded by the Marine Environment Protection Fund. The aim of the project was to produce regional habitat maps to support management of planned exploitation of large marine aggregate resources in this area and to identify areas of Annex I bedrock and/or stony reef. The study covered an area approximately 5,090 km2 between Selsey Bill and Dungeness and out to the UK/France median line, concentrating on aggregate licence application areas.


The surveys collected approximately 6,000 km of geophysical data (multibeam, sidescan sonar and sub bottom profiling) in 38 corridors up to 120 km long and spaced between 2 and 16 km apart. This data was then used to identify groundtruthing sites for Hamon grabs, 2 m beam trawls and drop down camera. 225 grab samples, 73 beam trawls and 65 video stations were collected.


Analysis of the grabs, trawls, photographs and videos were undertaken to identify similar habitats that could be assigned to biotopes under the Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland v 04.05. Analysis of the results from the grab samples resulted in the identification of ten infaunal biotopes. Analysis of the beam trawls identified fourteen epifaunal groups. Analysis of the photo and videos identified seven broad biotope classes.


The geological processes and features evident across the study area influenced the nature of the seabed and the distribution of sediment and biotopes. The physical nature of the seabed was one of the most important factors in controlling the form, diversity and frequency of the species with distinctions between areas of sand and gravel/cobble dominance, the latter having more diverse biological communities associated with them.


No extensive areas of Annex I bedrock reef were found in this study area but Annex I sandbanks which are slightly covered by seawater all the time were found in the study area which extended into the western part of the Bassurelle Sandbank cSAC.


Click to download a pdf of the map


Further Reading

  • James, J.W.C., Coggan, R.A., Blyth-Skyrme, V.J., Morando, A., Birchenough, S.N.R., Bee, E., Limpenny, D.S., Verling, E., Vanstaen, K., Pearce, B., Johnston, C.M., Rocks, K.F., Philport, S.L., Rees, H.L. 2007. Eastern English Channel Marine Habitat Map. Sci. Ser. Tech. Rep., Cefas Lowestoft, 139: 191pp.


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