The Noss Head MPA off the coast of Wick in the north of Scotland supports the largest known horse mussel bed in Scottish waters at depths of between 35-45m.
Horse mussels are long-lived, many survive for more than 25 years and some may live for more than 50 years. The mussels’ large shells provide a solid foundation for many other animals, including soft corals, tubeworms, barnacles, sea firs, and sea mats. Between the live shells, and inside dead ones, brittlestars, crabs, worms, molluscs and many other small animals find shelter which attracts young fish to feed. Young mussels are a favourite meal for crabs and starfish, but once the mussels grow to more than 6 cm long they are relatively safe from these predators.
The current conservation objective is to conserve the protected features of this MPA.
More detail on the designation is available from the SNH website.
The final Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment for this MPA is available to view.