Shelf banks and mounds


Shelf banks and mounds can be found off all Scottish coasts and cover approximately 2334 square kilometres of the UK’s continental shelf. Created by the action of strong currents, shelf banks and mounds are elevated areas of seabed where great volumes of sediment have built up over time.

Special Features

Strong currents in combination with the feature's sloping structure make shelf banks and mounds an ideal location for seabed species to colonise and grow. Once established, these communities provide shelter for other marine species and increase local biodiversity in the surrounding area.

A short-spined sea scorpion on the sandy seabed. ©Ben James/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or
A short-spined sea scorpion on the sandy seabed.
Click for a full description

©Ben James/NatureScot.


As relatively shallow and biodiverse areas, shelf banks and mounds can be exposed to pressure from fisheries. They may also be threatened by activities which affect water currents, which can lead to dramatic changes in their shape and structure.


Marine Protected Areas can offer protection to the marine species and communities that live on or nearby the shelf banks and mounds as well as the larger functions they have in Scotland’s seas e.g. for supporting biodiversity and the recycling of nutrient-rich water.



Marine Protected Areas

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