Friday, 15 March 2013

Offshore survey of Wight-Barfleur Reef cSAC and Bassurelle Sandbank cSAC

On Monday 18th March a two week survey will commence of two candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs) within the English Channel. Three members of JNCC staff will join the Cefas Endeavour research vessel, and over the next two weeks, will undertake a detailed survey of both the Wight-Barfleur Reef cSAC and Bassurelle Sandbank cSAC.

Bassurelle Sandbank was submitted to the European Commission in 2010 as an example of Annex 1 sandbank and has since been approved as a Site of Community Importance. Bassurelle is located in the Dover Strait which straddles the boundary between UK and French waters and our site is aligned with the French site "Ridens et dunes hydrualiques du Detroit du Pas de Calais". Wight-Barfleur Reef was submitted to the European Commission in 2012 for Annex 1 bedrock and stony reef and is located in the central English Channel.

Bassurelle Sandbank is a linear sandbank with sandwaves and megaripples on it, with biological communities include those typical of sand sediments dominated by polychaete worms. Sand eels and weever fish are characteristic of the fish species present. The depth within the Wight-Barfleur Reef cSAC ranges from 25m to 100m, with the deepest areas to the south, and within the palaeovalley which runs along the south-east part of the SAC. The large area of bedrock reef within the SAC is characterised by a series of well-defined exposed bedrock ridges, up to 4m high whereas in the south of the site the reef is flat and smooth with overlying coarse sediment which in places forms stony reef. The bedrock and stony reef areas support a diverse range of reef fauna, with many types of sponges present, tube worms, anemones and sea squirts.

The main aim of this survey is to gather additional information to aid the development of management measures for these sites.