Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Surveys (2005 and 2006)


Lophelia pertusa at Hatton Bank © BERR/Defra/JNCCSea urchins (Calveriosoma fenestratum) © BERR/Defra/JNCCBamboo coral (Keratoisis sp.) with a basket star (Gorgonocephalus sp.) © BERR/Defra/JNCC


Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is in the process of appraisal through which environmental protection and sustainable development may be considered, and factored in to national and local decisions regarding Government (and other) plans and programmes - such as oil and gas licencing rounds. The SEA surveys were commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (now Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)). These surveys, in which JNCC collaborated, collected multibeam and underwater imagery data from areas off the north and west coasts of Scotland.


In 2005 Anton Dohrn seamount, Rosemary Bank, Rockall Bank, Hatton Bank and George Bligh Bank were surveyed. The survey vessel RV Kommandor Jack collected multibeam, video and stills data. In 2006 Pobie Bank, Papa Bank, George Bligh Bank, Hatton Bank, Hatton South/Lyonesse, Polygonal Faults (in the Rockall-Hatton Basin), Rosemary Bank, the Wyville Thomson Ridge, the Faeroe Shetland Channel and the West Shetland Channel were all surveyed. The survey vessel MV Franklin collected multibeam, video and stills data.


During both these surveys, large areas of stony and bedrock reef were recorded - some thought to have been formed by the ploughing movement of icebergs through the seabed at the end of the last ice age. The Wyville Thomson Ridge contained large areas of iceberg ploughmarks forming stony reef. On the flanks of the ridge, bedrock reef was present. Due to the convergence of different water masses in the Wyville Thomson Ridge area, very different types of communities were found on either side of the ridge. These reef communities support sea urchins, sea spiders, sea cucumbers and a range of colourful sponges and soft corals. In the areas of Rockall Bank and Hatton Bank, colonies of cold water coral Lophelia pertusa were found, forming areas of biogenic reef.


The data that was collected from these surveys have contributed to the recommendation by JNCC to UK Government of three Special Areas of Conservation (SACs):

  1. Wyville Thomson Ridge cSAC;
  2. North-West Rockall cSAC;
  3. Hatton Bank cSAC.


Data analyses which were commissioned by JNCC have been undertaken for data collected around Pobie Bank and additional data collected on the 2009 survey to East Rockall and Anton Dohrn seamount is currently being analysed.


Click to download a pdf of the map


Further Reading

  • Howell, K.L., Davies, J.S., Jacobs, C., Narayanaswamy, B.E. 2008. Broadscale Survey of the Habitats of Rockall Bank and mapping of Annex I 'Reef' Habitat. JNCC Report 422.
  • Foster-Smith, R., Benson, A., Foster-Smith, J. 2009. Interpretation of Pobie Bank East of Shetland Data for Annex I Reef. JNCC Report 433.


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