Location (centroid): 55° 19.160' N 6° 12.684' W
Date Classified: 12/12/2016
Rathlin Island is the northernmost point of Northern Ireland. The MCZ surrounds Rathlin Island with a large extension between the north of the Island and the North Channel. The site includes other Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Rathlin Island Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Rathlin Island Special Protection Area (SPA).
Rathlin MCZ has been designated for Deep-sea bed, Black guillemot and Geological/Geomorphological features.
The MCZ contains the only known location of the broad scale habitat, Deep-sea bed in Northern Irish waters. This habitat is particularly unique in Northern Ireland inshore waters due to the steep drop-off in depth (>200m), close proximity to land and a range of deep subtidal sands, mixed sediments and rock.
Rathlin Island also supports a large population of Black guillemots (Cepphus grylle) that nest within the Island’s cliffs. Although Black guillemots have a widespread distribution throughout Northern Ireland there is a significant breeding and nesting population within Rathlin Island. Their reproductive success here may be related to the highly productive waters and rich feeding grounds within the MCZ.
A range of subtidal Geological and Geomorphological features have also been recorded along the north coast of the Island including a submerged coastline, underwater caves, sea arches and lagoons. These are important indicators of global sea-level change.