Incredible aerial photos show one of Norfolk’s natural wonders, now under government protection

Thousands of seals and cormorants have made Scroby Sands their home.Picture: Mike Page

Thousands of seals and cormorants have made Scroby Sands their home.Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

It is a sand bank that is now home to thousands of cormorants and seals as these eye-catching aerial photographs by Mike Page show.

Thousands of seals and cormorants have made Scroby Sands their home.Picture: Mike Page

Thousands of seals and cormorants have made Scroby Sands their home.Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

The seals at Scroby Sands off Great Yarmouth are a popular sight for holidaymakers who book boat trips out to see them basking.

And now the mammals and their avian friends have come under the auspices of a new protection order, which is designed to help defend feeding areas and marine habitats of rare migratory birds.

MORE; new scheme to safeguard Scroby sandsScroby Sands and parts of the River Yare and River Bure in Great Yarmouth have been added to a Special Protection Area as part of a national scheme to look after 650 miles of what the government calls “blue belt” maritime zones.

The extension of the existing Outer Thames Estuary Special Protection Area to include the sand bank and stretches of two rivers is designed to help boost Great Yarmouth’s little tern population by safeguarding feeding places.

The Little Tern colony at North Denes, Great Yarmouth.Little Terns in flightPicture: James BassCopy:

The Little Tern colony at North Denes, Great Yarmouth.Little Terns in flightPicture: James BassCopy: Stephen PullingerFor: EDP NEWSEDP Pics © 2006 Tel: (01603) 772434 - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2006

The terns build their nests at the neighbouring Great Yarmouth North Denes Special Protection Area

The newly extended Special Protection Area already covered an area extending south along the east coast from Caister to Woodbridge in Suffolk.

MORE; can you count the number of sand bank seals?The introduction of the extension followed a consultation by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

It was part of a national process that saw the creation of two new Special Protection Areas covering Falmouth to St Astall Bay in Cornwall and the Irish Sea between the Isle of Man and Anglesey. Three other areas were also extended as well, including Poole Harbour.

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In total the new and extended zones will offer protection to nearly 150,000 rare seabirds – including little terns, black-throated divers and Manx shearwaters.

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Therese Coffey, environment minister and Suffolk Coastal, said: “Like the millions of others watching Blue Planet II, I am only too aware of the importance of protecting our precious marine environment, and the wildlife that relies on healthy and productive seas.

“The UK is already a world leader in marine conservation, with over 23pc of our waters protected, and these new sites will help to strengthen our blue belt and give rare seabirds like the little tern a brighter future.”