Ocean fronts


Fronts occur throughout Scotland’s seas and are water bodies rather than seabed features. They are created by the mixing of waters of different origin or through the interaction between oceanic currents and seabed features and they can result in high levels of primary and secondary production.

Fronts. ©Crown copyright BGS. NON SNH COPYRIGHT, FOR SNH USE ONLY ON THE WEBSITE. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot
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©Crown copyright BGS. NON NatureScot COPYRIGHT, FOR NatureScot USE ONLY ON THE WEBSITE.

Special features

Fronts have a variety of special functions:

  • An area of water with high abundances of plankton and prey species for marine predators like dolphins, whales and birds to feed upon.
  • The circulation and transportation of nutrients, larvae, oxygen and heat within Scotland’s seas and the wider North-East Atlantic Ocean.
  • A physical ‘corridor’ in terms of environmental conditions along which marine species congregate and migrate.


Fronts are not listed as protected features on any other UK or European nature conservation designation and may be at risk to activities which cause large-scale changes to current patterns.


Scotland’s inclusion of fronts as key biodiversity features of Marine Protected Areas represents an important step towards recognising the importance of large-scale features in wider ecosystem functioning.


Marine Protected Areas

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