This small, inshore site is approximately 16 square kilometres and extends up to the shoreline. The boundary of the site wraps around the rocky features off Selsey Bill which generally consist of limestone overlaying clay. The area exhibits a complex mosaic of habitat types and is a known area where short-snouted seahorses can be found!
The Zone incorporates the famous Mixon Hole, which is a popular spot for scuba divers. This is an almost vertical 20-metre underwater cliff which features many ledges and crevices, providing homes for a range of marine species.
The Hounds Reef is located in the north-west part of the Zone: this is a limestone reef covered by a huge variety of sponges, sea squirts and soft coral. The reef is also well used by numerous fishes, molluscs and crustaceans.
These creatures can be found in shallow water over then summer months, attached to seaweed or seagrass.
Seahorses form faithful partnerships with mates, ritually ‘dancing’ together to reaffirm their bond.
photo: Paul Naylor
Peat and Clay Exposures
Sea beds formed of peat and clay are rare; here they are found on the shore on the western side of the bill, known as the ‘Bracklesham beds’.
The exposures are characterised by piddocks, which are bivalve molluscs that burrow into the soft surface.
photo: Piddock / Nikki Hills
High Energy Infralittoral Rock
This habitat is characterised by shallow rocky areas below the tideline which are subject to strong wave action.
Marine life tends to be characterised by seaweeds, which provides shelter and a source of food for many animals.
photo: Edible Crab / Paul Naylor