The Dart Estuary MCZ is an inshore site that covers an area of approximately 5 km². The site is located in south Devon and encompasses the upper part of the Dart Estuary down to Anchor Stone, south of Dittisham.
The Dart Estuary MCZ supports a diverse array of habitats and species, including a number of rare species. Estuaries are important contributors to a healthy environment and have an important role as a nursery ground for juvenile fish. Large areas of the site consist of intertidal mud, which is a highly productive habitat and provides feeding and resting grounds for wading and migratory birds. This is also an important habitat for the nationally scarce tentacled lagoon worm. This is a tiny bristleworm which grows up to 5 mm in length and creates and lives in tubes within the mud habitats of the estuary. These worms have tentacles around their mouths used for gathering food from the surrounding muddy sediments. The tentacled lagoon worm is particularly vulnerable to activities that cause changes in its habitat.
The north of the site contains areas of coastal saltmarshes and reed beds. These provide a refuge for wading birds during high tide and storms and are home to a wide variety of worms, molluscs and crustaceans living in the damp environment between the vegetation.
Estuarine rocky habitats form in flooded river valleys or ‘rias’, such as the Dart, and provide a hard surface for animals and seaweeds to attach to in areas dominated by sandy and muddy environments. The seaweed species that attach themselves to the rocks form foraging areas for crustaceans (such as crabs) and birds at low tide as well as foraging areas and a refuge for juvenile fish at high tide.