Two areas of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, have been awarded a Special Area of Conservation status.
The sea and seabed of the Maidens Islands, and the marine areas around Portrush and the Giant’s Causeway, are now protected areas along the Causeway Coast, which extends for about 6km between Causeway Head and Benbane Head.
Both of these sites are home to vital habitats including salt marshes, salt pastures, salt steppes, tidal rivers, estuaries, mud and sand flats and Lagoons, and the Giant’s Causeway bears geological features from 50-60 million years ago.
Larne provides an area for breeding birds including the roseate tern, common tern and sandwich tern, as well as wintering birds such as the pale-bellied brant goose and marine mammals such as the harbour porpoise and grey seal.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said “I hope this encourages people to visit the area to get a glimpse of these beautiful animals.”