Burrowed mud with large mounds formed by the mud volcano worm Maxmuelleria lankesteri. Graham Saunders © Marine Scotland. All rights reserved. Please contact CMEU for details - snhmarinephotos@nature.scot

Small Isles NCMPA

Small Isles Nature Conservation MPA is home to the UK’s only known colony of rare fan mussels.

Designated to protect one of Scotland’s most diverse seabed habitats, the Small Isles NCMPA covers over 800 square kilometres of waters around the islands of Rum, Canna and the low-lying rocky islet of Oigh-sgeir. It also envelops the Sound of Canna, a submerged valley that drops away to a depth of more than 250m and holds one of Scotland's treasures – the UK's only colony of rare fan mussels.

Conservation objectives

Conserve the protected features of the Small Isles NCMPA

Protected features


  • black guillemot
  • burrowed mud
  • circalittoral sand and mud communities
  • fan mussel aggregations
  • horse mussel beds
  • northern feather star aggregations on mixed substrata
  • northern sea fan and sponge communities
  • shelf deeps
  • white cluster anemones

Geodiversity: Quaternary of Scotland – glaciated channels/troughs, glacial lineations, meltwater channels, moraines, streamlined bedforms


Small Isles Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area Order 2016

Small Isles Marine Protected Area: Site summary - The only known aggregation of fan mussels in the UK

Small Isles MPA boundary map

Small Isles MPA: Data confidence assessment

Small Isles MPA: Assessment against the MPA Selection Guidelines

Small Isles MPA: Management options


Email: [email protected]