Mousa to Boddam
Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area
United Kingdom: Scotland
The Mousa to Boddam NCMPA encompasses two discrete regions which are the most consistent and reliable sandeel recruitment areas and the preferred areas for young of the year around Shetland even in years of low recruitment.
Sandeels are eel-like fish blue to yellow in colour. They have a close association with sandy substrates into which they bury to protect themselves from predators. Sandeels are an important food source for seabirds and marine mammals and are critical to many North Sea food webs, so it is no coincidence that the area around Mousa is one of the best in Shetland to see whales and dolphins.
The NCMPA is also within an internationally important carbonate production area. This is an area where seabed sediments are high in calcium carbonate because they are made of the eroded shells of animals that lived on or in the seabed. These sediments supply the carbonate sands of the coastal machair around Shetland. Machair supports specific and diverse grassland vegetation which flowers in spring creating a beautiful display. It is one of the rarest habitats in Europe.
The northern part of the NCMPA overlaps and builds on the Mousa Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designated for reefs, sea caves and common seal.