Central Fladen includes a particular type of mud habitat, called burrowed mud, which is characterised by feather-like soft corals called sea pens, and the burrows made by crustaceans such as mud shrimp and the Norway lobster. Burrowed mud is an interesting and important marine habitat that supports a rich community of animals. Burrowing species can be found living within the mud itself, including the Norway lobster and mud shrimp. Their burrowing activity plays an important role in supporting life in the area; the constant churning of the mud releases nutrients and helps to mix oxygen into the mud. Longer lasting burrows also provide shelter to other marine life from the starfish and sea urchins that patrol the muddy surface looking for food.
Several different types of seapen can be found anchored in the muddy seabed. The southern “Core” part of the Central Fladen possible MPA includes examples of the nationally uncommon tall seapen, which can grow up to 2m in height. Brittlestars use the tall seapen as an elevated perch to filter food from passing currents.
Site options in the network
Representation of burrowed mud within the Fladen Grounds could be achieved by either taking forward Central Fladen pMPA in its entirety, or just the tall seapen “Core” part of Central Fladen with either the South-east Fladen or Western Fladen pMPA option.