Site details

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Flag of Iceland
3 stars - Protections status intended and preparatory planning imminent
Normal Focal Site

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Rocky shores off Sandgerši. Photo: Reynir Sveinsson

Synoptic description of site:

Exposed beaches of the outer Reykjanes peninsula in Southwest Iceland.

Extensive description of site:

The Reykjanes peninsula, SW Iceland, is exposed to the open Atlantic. The peninsula has a variety of rocky, sandy and muddy shores, extensive bird cliffs and rich subtidal rocky and soft bottoms (muddy, volcanic sediments). The rich sea bird life is supported by a local productive front. Shallow subtidal hydrothermal vents occur at the Reykjanes Ridge.

Habitats present:
Seagrass bedsX

Description of fauna and flora:

The fauna and flora in the area has been explored since the time of the Danish Ingolf Expedition (1895-1896). The flora and the fauna are both subarctic in character, with many intertidal species reaching their northern limits in the area.

Habitat description:

Generally rocky shore with diversity of animals and large biomass of algae. Subtidal rocky bottoms with rich kelp forest, subtidal sandy and muddy bottoms.

Human impact:

The area is subjected to low levels of pollution (total population < 20,000), mostly due to ship traffic. Locally the area is heavily fished (trawling, nets).


Facilities for marine biodiversity research are available, including possibilities for collecting at sea and using the extensive collections from the BIOICE programme. A field station, the Sandgerši Marine Centre, is located in the area.

Available database and website:

Much information is found in the series Zoology of Iceland and in local databases (BIOICE database and others). All local research organisations have their own websites.

Commitment and ongoing research:

The Institute of Biology of the University of Iceland, Icelandic Institute of Natural History and the Marine Research Institute conduct research on various aspects of the fauna and flora of the area.