Site details

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5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
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Filey Brigg and Filey Bay. Photo: J-P D (IECS)

Synoptic description of site:

Sandstone/boulder clay cliff; intertidal rocky spit (Lower Cretaceous Grit) with striking gradients of exposure including circalittoral expansion; ; large sandy beach.

Extensive description of site:

Filey Brigg is a long spit of rock (Lower Cretaceous Grit) which limits Filey Bay, a sand beach in the South. The Brigg dips to the South, with the steep North side taking heavy weather and sheltering the bay creating striking gradients of exposure including circalittoral expansion. Low vertical walls of sandstone at the base of boulder clay are easily weathered. Turbidity is influenced by the clay in bad weather. Filey Bay itself is an extensive plain of tide-swept sands with ripples, waves and dunes.

Habitats present:
Littoral XX
Sublittoral XX
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

The exposed North side of the Brigg differs from the South sheltered side by sparse fucoids with patches of Mastocapus stellatus. The Southern side harbours a higher diversity of plants and animals with a lower shore which is partly silted. A kelp forest develops there and circalittoral rock is occupied by hydroids and bryozoans. Filey Bay has mostly fine sands with sparse crustacean and polychaete communities.

Human impact:

There are no industrial activities in the area and all sewage is discharged through a modern treatment plant. A traditional fishery has operated since the 12th century, with only very few small boats remaining. Filey Bay has sea walls and there is a concrete pathway, which runs from the bay to the Brigg and attracts students who collect plants and animals. The beach is popular but with very little nautical activities and not much bathing.


All facilities for marine biodiversity research are available on the University of Hull Scarborough Campus and on the Hull Campus at the Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies (Department of Biological Sciences).

Available database and website:

The University of Hull and other British Universities together with the London Natural History Museum have been collecting data for decades and made it accessible to English Nature which manages the area. Information has been compiled in the Marine Nature Conservation Review and in the JNCC Coastal Directories (EC BioMar-Life programmes).

Commitment and ongoing research:

The University of Hull (Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies) and its branch at Scarborough undertake biodiversity-related research in the area.