North-east Faroe-Shetland Channel
Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area
United Kingdom: Scotland
Located to the far north-east of Scotland, this NCMPA (Nature Conservation MPA) includes a large part of the north-eastern reaches of the Faroe-Shetland Channel in Scottish waters. The habitats are strongly influenced by the significant range of environmental conditions present, from the upper continental slope to the depths of the channel, and include a dynamic zone of mixing where warmer Atlantic waters flow over cold Arctic waters. The continental slope plays an important role in funnelling ocean currents that bring valuable food and nutrients to the region, which in turn support a wide diversity of life. The channel is believed to be a corridor for migrating marine mammals, including the fin whale („razorback‟), and sperm whale.
At depths of 400-600m, the combination of seabed type and plentiful supply of nutrients are ideal for the establishment of deep-sea sponges. Up to 50 sponge species can be found within the sponge fields, many of which are different to those found in the surrounding areas. Below 800m, the muddy seabed is home to those species that can tolerate the cold Arctic-influenced waters, such as deep sea worms.
The NCMPA includes several different features of geological importance, including the Pilot Whale Diapirs. The Diapirs are a series of deep-water mounds which measure 2 to 3 km across and rise to more than 70m above the surrounding seafloor.