Blackstones and Stanton Banks (2003, 2005 and 2006)


Hornwrack (Flustra foliacea) at Blackstones Bank © AFBITunicate (Mycela lingua) at Stanton Banks © AFBICeltic feather stars (Leptometra celtica) at Stanton Banks © AFBI


Blackstones Bank and Stanton Banks were two Areas of Search for offshore Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for potential Annex I bedrock and stony reef. Stanton Banks has since been submitted by the UK to the European Commission as a candidate SAC.


Five surveys have been conducted on Stanton Banks, which confirm the presence of Annex I reef and identify the biological communities present. A British Geological Survey (BGS) manned submersible survey of an area within the Stanton Banks confirmed the presence of reef habitat and described characteristic reef fauna.


A collaborative survey between JNCC and DARDNI (Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland) was undertaken in 2003 on the RV Lough Foyle. Two areas of Stanton Banks (Stanton 1 and 2) were surveyed acoustically using RoxAnn acoustic ground discrimination system (AGDS) and multibeam to characterise the physical properties/morphology of the seabed. Biological ground truthing of these areas using video tows and stills camera images confirmed the presence of bedrock reef and identified the major faunal communities. This survey also gathered data on Blackstones Bank (as reported in the final report available for download below). The Blackstones Bank survey area consisted of two distinctly raised areas which rise from approximately 50 metres to 25 metres at the peaks, each of about 2 km2, which from the video analysis correspond to bedrock outcrops and constitute rocky reef. The reef areas are seperated by a series of cobble and sand areas. The reefs in this area are characterised by diverse sponge-rich communities with bryozoan crusts.


Further survey was undertaken by the North Western Shelf consortium, as part of the MESH project in 2005 and 2006. This included multibeam survey of three further areas (Stanton 1, 3 and 4) and biological groundtruthing of Stanton 4 using drop-down video and ROV (remotely operated vehicle). A survey by BGS in June 2006 (cruise CD180 of the RV Charles Darwin) took place over part of Stanton 4. This survey gathered geophysical data using a sparker system, pinger and a precision echosounder.


From the analysis of video and stills, the biotopes CGS, CR.HCR.DpSp.PhaAxi and CR.MCR.EcCr.CarSp.PenPcom were found on Blackstone Bank. The biotopes CR.MCR.EcCr.FaAlCr.Bri, CR.MCR.EcCr.FaAlCr and CGS were found on Stanton Banks.


Click to download a pdf of the map


Further Reading


Project Partners


If you have any further questions about JNCC's offshore survey work then please contact us.