Sea Pen & Burrowing Megafauna

Habitat: Sea-Pen & Burrowing Megafauna Communities

Description: Plains of fine mud, at water depths ranging from 15–200 metres or more, which are heavily bioturbated by burrowing megafauna; burrows and mounds may form a prominent feature of the sediment surface with conspicuous populations of sea-pens, typically Virgularia mirabilis and Pennatula phosphorea. The burrowing crustaceans present may include Nephrops norvegicus, Calocaris macandreae or Callianassa subterranea. In the deeper fjordic lochs which are protected by an entrance sill, the tall sea-pen Funiculina quadrangularis may also be present. The burrowing activity of megafauna creates a complex habitat, providing deep oxygen penetration. This habitat occurs extensively in sheltered basins of fjords, sea lochs, voes and in deeper offshore waters such as the North Sea and Irish Sea basins and the Bay of Biscay.

OSPAR Regions where it occurs: I, II, III, IV

OSPAR Regions where under threat and/or in decline: II, III

What is the latest status of the feature?

The status assessment describes the latest changes in distribution, abundance and range of the feature, as well as any changes in the threats and pressures impacting the feature. The status assessments are updated regularly and inform OSPAR’s consideration of the effectiveness of the measures and actions that have been adopted and implemented by Contracting Parties.

Why is this feature included on the OSPAR List?

What protective measures and actions has OSPAR committed to taking?

What actions have been implemented by OSPAR?

An implementation report will be published in late 2022