Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary SAC

Credit: Richard Liley

The Firth of Tay and the Eden estuary are two high-quality estuarine areas. The two estuaries have been proposed within a single site because they are integral components of a large, geomorphologically complex area that incorporates a mosaic of estuarine and coastal habitats. The Tay is the least-modified of the large east coast estuaries in Scotland, while the Eden estuary represents a smaller ‘pocket’ estuary. The inner parts of the estuaries are largely sheltered from wave action, while outer areas, particularly of the Tay, are exposed to strong tidal streams, giving rise to a complex pattern of erosion and deposition of the sandbank feature at the firths’ mouth. The sediments within the site support biotopes that reflect the gradients of exposure and salinity, and are typical of estuaries on the east coast of the UK. The abundance, distribution and composition of the associated plant and animal communities are ecologically representative of northern North Sea estuaries [1]. The Firth of Tay is also known for its seagrass beds [2], a highly productive habitat capable of nutrient recycling and carbon sequestration as well as providing a physical shelter and feeding grounds for smaller species [3] 

The Firth of Tay & Eden Estuary supports a nationally important breeding colony of Harbour seal Phoca vitulina, part of the east coast population of common seals that typically utilise sandbanks. Around 600 adults haul-out at the site to rest, pup and moult, representing around 2% of the UK population of this species. [1]


This site currently has no fisheries management measures. Public consultation of management proposals is expected in the near future.


[1] Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary site summary, JNCC

[2] Marine Scotland Information

[3] Seagrass ecosystem services – What’s next?

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