Biodiversity & Conservation

Beds of dead maerl

Dead maerl beds

Beds of dead maerl
Distribution map

Dead maerl beds recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under EC Habitats Directive
UK Biodiversity Action Plan
National importance Not available
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time
Large shallow inlets and bays

Biotope importance

Note: maerl beds are listed or designated. ‘Dead’ maerl beds are not listed directly but neither is the status of the maerl explicitly stated.


Maerl is mainly sold dried as a soil additive but is also used in animal feed, water filtration systems, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and bone surgery. Maerl beds are dredged for scallops (found in high densities compared with other scallop habitats) where extraction efficiency is very high (Birkett et al., 1998).

Additional information icon Additional information

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This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2013. Beds of dead maerl. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 26/11/2015]. Available from: <>