The Hatton-Rockall Basin MPA, designated for deep-sea sponge aggregations and offshore deep-sea muds, is located in the far west of Scotland’s offshore waters. Rockall Bank lies to the east, Hatton Bank to the west, and George Bligh Bank to the north. At about 1.1km depth, this muddy basin hosts a range of animals adapted to living in the deep-sea. The seabed in this area is criss-crossed with unique examples of polygonal faults, an intriguing geological feature considered to be of scientific importance. The structure of the faults resembles the cracks found on a sun-scorched desert, creating a unique relief on the seabed.
Different types of animals can be found living in, and on, the muddy seabed within the Hatton-Rockall Basin. A group of animals that often have five-starred symmetry, called echinoderms, are some of the most common animals found here, including sea cucumbers, starfish and sea urchins. The MPA also includes aggregations of deep-sea sponges, including the aptly-named birds-nest sponge. Associated with the harder edges of the polygonal faults, the sponge aggregations are biodiversity hotspots, supporting many other species.
The current conservation objective is to conserve the protected features of this MPA.
More detail on the designation is available from the JNCC website.
The final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment for this MPA is available to view.