Scottish reef identified as the biggest of its kind

Loch Carron (Scottish Gaelic: "Loch Carrann") is a sea loch in western Ross in the Scottish Highlands. It has now been discovered that it is home to an extensive bed of flame shells. Much larger than a similar feature in Loch Alsh (Loch Aillse) which been previously thought the biggest. Flame shells are a small, scallop-like species, which has numerous neon orange tentacles that emerge between the creatures' two shells. They group together on the sea bed and their nests create a living reef that supports numerous other species.

Investigations of the rare marine feature at Loch Carron were undertaken after, earlier this year, a scallop dredger dragged its gear through the reef on two occasions. This caused considerable damage to the fragile habitat. Roseanna Cunningham the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, has called for emergency measures to protect the reef. It will be covered by its incorporation into one of Scotland's Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) which is a mechanism used to ensure protection of some of the most vulnerable species and habitats.  The measures undertaken in MPA's are done in consultation with local fishermen to ensure they are reasonable and appropriate. 


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