Waters surrounding the Skerries have been designated an SAC.
AN 11,000 hectare expanse of ocean off the North Coast has been formally designated a Special Area of Conservation.
The protection measure was introduced under EU legislation to help preserve rare underwater features and the plants and animals that live there.
The site, described as unique to both Northern Ireland and wider European waters will be known as Skerries and Causeway SAC and was officially added to the European SAC register last month
.It covers an area of ocean up to five miles off shore between Portstewart and Dunseverick. Among the features identified by scientists are rare underwater dramatic “sand waves” that were only discovered less than ten years ago.
The area's rocky reefs and submerged caves, as well as the presence of harbour porpoises are also mentioned in documents justifying the designation issued to Causeway Coast and Glens Council last week.
“The area has been recommended as a Special Area of Conservation because it contains habitat types and species which are rare or threatened within a European context,” the report states.
*Full story in this week's Chronicle*