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Special Areas of Conservation


Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Extra-Regio, Highlands and Islands
Centroid* HY715442
Latitude 59.28333333
Longitude -2.5
SAC EU Code UK0030069
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 10976.97
* 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 Sanday SAC

General site character

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets (88%)
  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (1.5%)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes (0.1%)
  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (5%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (5.1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (0.1%)
  • Improved grassland (0.2%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (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

  • 1170 Reefs

    Sanday is a large, low-lying island in the north-east of the Orkney archipelago. Surrounded by clear, relatively shallow water, the island has a complex coastline dominated by extensive sandy beaches and sheltered inlets, interspersed with rocky headlands. Sanday is notable for the extensive subtidal bedrock reefs that surround the island and provide a habitat for dense forests of kelp Laminaria spp. The kelp occurs to a depth of about 20 m and provides a habitat for species-rich, red algal turf communities. Sponges, such as Clathrina coriacea, and ascidians, such as Aplidium punctum, occur on the vertical rock faces. The north coast of Sanday is tide-swept and appears to support a richer fauna than the south coast, with a dense bryozoan/hydroid turf and dense brittlestar and horse mussel Modiolus modiolus beds in mixed sediment below the kelp zone. Crabs and brittlestars are common within crevices in the rock.

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

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

  • 1365 Harbour seal Phoca vitulina

    Sanday is situated in the north-east of the Orkney archipelago and supports the largest group of Harbour seal Phoca vitulina at any discrete site in Scotland. The breeding groups, found on intertidal haul-out sites that are unevenly distributed around the Sanday coast, represent over 4% of the UK population. Nearshore kelp beds that surround Sanday are important foraging areas for the seals, and the colony is linked to a very large surrounding population in the Orkney archipelago.

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.