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Special Areas of Conservation

Sound of Arisaig (Loch Ailort to Loch Ceann Traigh)

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Extra-Regio, Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NM638753
Latitude 56.80833333
Longitude -5.870833333
SAC EU Code UK0019802
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 4544.27
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Sound of Arisaig (Loch Ailort to Loch Ceann Traigh) SAC

General site character

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets (100%)

Download the Natura 2000 standard data form for this site as submitted to Europe (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • The Sound of Arisaig is representative of sublittoral sandbanks on the west coast of Scotland. It is sheltered, with low turbidity, and has an unusually high diversity of sublittoral sediment habitats within a relatively small area. These range from very soft mud and muddy sands in Loch Ailort and the deeper parts of its entrance to coarse, clean shell-sand in the more exposed parts of the site. This site is particularly significant in that it supports some of the most extensive beds of maerl in the UK. These maerl beds have very rich associated communities that include several rare and scarce species, such as the alga Gloiosiphonia capillaris and the hydroid Halecium plumosum. Eelgrass Zostera marina is found on shallow sand in outer Loch Ailort. In the more sheltered conditions in inner Loch Ailort muddy sand occurs, supporting large populations of the echiuran worm Amalosoma eddystonense, a nationally scarce species. The Sound of Arisaig supports species with predominantly southern distributions, such as the sipunculan worm Sipunculus nudus, and those with predominantly northern distributions, such as the starfish Luidia sarsi. The site is an important part of the transition from southern to northern communities that occurs along the coast of the UK.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Not Applicable

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.