|IPA Factsheet - Chesil Beach and The Fleet|
Site Description Chesil Beach and The Fleet SPA is located on the south coast of England in Dorset. It consists of a long linear shingle beach (Chesil Bank) enclosing a brackish lagoon (the Fleet). The Fleet is the largest and best example of a barrier-built saline lagoon in the UK and Chesil is one of the three major shingle structures in the UK. Chesil Beach and The Fleet SPA consists of a long linear shingle beach (Chesil Bank) enclosing a brackish lagoon (the Fleet). The salinity gradient, peculiar hydrographic regime and varied substrates, together with associated reedbed and intertidal habitats and the relative lack of pollution in comparison to most other lagoons, have resulted in the Fleet being extraordinarily rich in wildlife. There are outstanding communities of aquatic plants, in particular stonewort species. The Fleet is considered of European importance for stoneworts in Stewart (2004).
Botanical Significance Noted for stonewort, vascular and habitat interest. ). The plant-life includes no less than 150 species of algae, in communities unlike those found anywhere else. Rarities include the filamentous green algae Cladophora battersia and C. retroflexa and the stonewort Lamprothamnion papillosum. The lagoon is, however, better known for its underwater meadows of Eel-grasses Zostera noltii and Z. angustifolia and Spiral and Beaked Tassel-weeds Ruppia cirrhosa and R. maritima, holding the most extensive mixed population of these species in Britain. On the stable landward side of the Beach, large and nationally important populations of Sea Kale Crambe maritima, Yellow-horned Poppy Glaucium flavum, Sea Pea Lathyrus japonicus and Shrubby Sea-blite Suaeda fruticosa occur. Sea Holly Eryngium maritimum, Portland Spurge Euphorbia portlandica and Little-robin Geranium purpureum (a Red Data Book species) are also present.
General Habitat Description