Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



Back to top

1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

Saltee Islands SAC

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:

Name/Organisation:National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site proposed as SCI:2002-01
Date site confirmed as SCI: No data
Date site designated as SAC:2019-06
National legal reference of SAC designation:300/2019


Back to top

2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km]:


2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name
IE02Southern and Eastern

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Atlantic (0.00 %)


Back to top

3.1 Habitat types present on the site and assessment for them

Annex I Habitat types Site assessment
Code PF NP Cover [ha] Cave [number] Data quality A|B|C|D A|B|C
      RepresentativityRelative SurfaceConservationGlobal
1140  info      20.0432  0.00 
1160  info      3651.11  0.00 
1170  info      4595.07  0.00 
1230  info      158.09  0.00 
8330  info      158.09  0.00 
  • PF: for the habitat types that can have a non-priority as well as a priority form (6210, 7130, 9430) enter "X" in the column PF to indicate the priority form.
  • NP: in case that a habitat type no longer exists in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Cover: decimal values can be entered
  • Caves: for habitat types 8310, 8330 (caves) enter the number of caves if estimated surface is not available.
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation)

3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
BA200Alca torda    3456  3456   
BA200Alca torda    3456  3456   
BA103Falco peregrinus     
BA204Fratercula arctica    1522  1522   
BA204Fratercula arctica    1522  1522   
BA009Fulmarus glacialis    525  525   
BA009Fulmarus glacialis    525  525   
M1364Halichoerus grypus    571  734   
M1364Halichoerus grypus    246  246   
BA183Larus fuscus    245  245   
BA183Larus fuscus    245  245   
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    278  278   
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    278  278   
BA013Puffinus puffinus    150  175   
BA013Puffinus puffinus    150  175   
BA346Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax     
BA188Rissa tridactyla    2125  2125   
BA188Rissa tridactyla    2125  2125   
BA016Sula bassana    2050  2050   
BA016Sula bassana    2050  2050   
BA199Uria aalge    21436  21436   
BA199Uria aalge    21436  21436   
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
Aeolidiella glauca                   
Aglaophenia acacia                   
Aglaophenia kirchenpaueri                   
Amphiura securigera                   
Archidistoma aggregatum                   
Axinella dissimilis                   
Cataphellia brodricii                   
Crimora papillata                   
Distomus variolosus                   
Gymnangium montagui                   
Halecium muricatum                   
Larus argentatus    50  50               
Larus marinus    90  90               
Okenia aspersa                   
Phalacrocorax aristotelis    265  265               
Plocamilla coriacea                   
Pycnoclavella aurilucens                   
Schizomavella sarniensis                   
Sertularella gaudichaudi                   
Sidnyum elegans                   
Stolonica socialis                   
Tamarisca tamarisca                   
Tethyspira spinosa                   
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


Back to top

4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

The site comprises the Saltee Islands and a large area of the surrounding seas. There are two islands (Great Saltee and Little Saltee) and a constellation of islets and rocks. The islands are situated between 4 and 5 km off the south Wexford coast. As a group, they constitute a broken reef that protrudes from a seabed of sand and shell. The reef has a north-east/south-west orientation and is typically strewn with boulders, cobbles and patches of sand and gravel. Bedrock is metamorphic schist and gneiss. The islands are exposed to prevailing wind and swells from the west. Tidal streams tend to be moderate but are strong in some areas, particularly where the reef is shallow. The islands were inhabited and farmed in the past but are now abandoned, although some sheep grazing occurs on Little Saltee. A community dominated by Pteridium aquilinum is the main vegetation type on the islands. Dry grassland occurs within the old field boundaries. Habitats with a minor presence are springs, flushes and scrub. The shorelines vary from rocky cliffs of moderate height to shingle, sand and boulder shores. Small sections of boulder clay cliffs are exposed in places.

4.2 Quality and importance

The exposed reef communities of the Saltee Islands are extremely species rich and contain rare or scarce species. In the shallow infralittoral zone, there are extremely species rich kelp parks (79-124 species) and tideswept Halidrys siliquosa and mixed kelp communities (78-100 species). The lower infralittoral communities dominated by red algae are also extremely species rich (79-117 species). Rare and notable species of sponge, anthozoan, brittlestar and hydroid live in these areas. Circalittoral communities are also distinguished by consistently extremely high species richness (average 76 species). There are four notable and scarce sponge species, 6 species of scarce or notable hydroid, a scarce anemone, two scarce nudibranchs and two scarce ascidian species. Perhaps more important than the high number of notable species in the Saltee Islands area is the fact that the populations of ten of those species have extremely high conservation value because they represent a high proportion of the total population in the national territory: these are the sponge Tethyspira spinosa; the hydroids Halecium muricatum, Aglaophenia acacia and Gymnangium montagui; the anemone Cataphellia brodricii, the nudibranchs Okenia aspersa and Aeolidiella glauca; and the ascidians Pycnoclavella aurilucens, Distomus variolosus and Stolonica socialis. The sediment communities are also important. The littoral sediment communities present at Kilmore Quay are characteristic of many similar beaches around the coast. The sublittoral sediment characterized by the sea cucumber Neopendactyla mixta is one of only seven such communities recorded by Biomar. Good examples of vegetated cliff habitat on both islands with a typical south-eastern flora. Has sea caves though marine communities not yet investigated. A long established breeding population of Halichoerus grypus and the only significant population in the south-east region. The Saltee Islands are amongst the most important seabird colonies in the country for populations and species diversity. Internationally important for Uria aalge and Alca torda, and nationally important for a further seven seabird species, including Sula bassana, Phalacrocorax corax, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Larus fuscus, Rissa tridactyla, and Fratercula arctica. The islands have long-established seabird monitoring programmes. Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax occurs at the eastern edge of its Irish range and Falco peregrinus breeds. Great Saltee is a major site for spring and autumn landbird migration.

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both

4.5 Documentation

Bell, A. (1919). Fossil shells from Wexford and Manxland. Irish Naturalist, 28: 109-114. Berrow, S.D., Mackie, K.L., O. Sullivan, O., Shepperd, K.B., Mellon, C, Coveney, J.A. (1993). The second International Chough Survey in Ireland, 1992. Irish Birds 5: 1-10. Cotton, A.D. (1913). Notes on the flora of the Saltees II. Marine algae. Irish Naturalist, 22: 195-198. Creme, G.A., Walsh, P.M., O'Callaghan, M & Kelly, T.C. (1997). The changing status of the lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus in Ireland. Biology and Environment. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 97B: 149-156. Cronin, M., Duck, C., Ó Cadhla, O., Nairn, R., Strong, D. and O'Keeffe, C. (2004). Harbour seal population assessment in the Republic of Ireland: August 2003. Irish Wildlife Manuals No. 11. National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government., 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. 34 pp. Fahy, E. (1981). The Wexford commercial sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax (L.) fishery. Fisheries Bulletin, 3: 1-10. Gardiner, P.R.R., & Brenchley, P.J. (1970). The Pre-Cambrian and lower Palaeozoic geology of Co. Wexford. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 16: 371-379. Gibson, F.A. (1953). Movements of salmon around Ireland. II. From Baginbun, County Wexford (1949 to 1951). Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 55B: 195-208. Goodwillie, R. (1979). A preliminary report on areas of scientific interest in County Wexford. An Foras Forbartha, Dublin. Guiry, M.D., Cullinane, J.P., & Whelan, P.M. (1979). Notes on Irish marine algae - 3. New records of Rhodophyta from the Wexford coast. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 19: 304-307. Hallisey, T. (1912). On the superficial deposits off the county of Wexford. Irish Naturalist, 21: 175-179. Hart, H.C. (1883). Report on the Flora of the Wexford and Waterford coasts. Scientific Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society, 4: 117-146. Healy, B. (1979). Marine fauna of County Wexford 1 - Littoral and brackish water Oligochaeta.. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 19:418-422. Healy, B., & McGrath, D. (1982). Marine fauna of county Wexford, - 4. Littoral and brackish water fish. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 20: 429-435. Healy, B., & McGrath, D. (1988). Marine fauna of Co. Wexford - 10. The Crustacea Decapoda of intertidal and brackish water habitats. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 22: 470-473. Hunt, J., Derwin, J., Coveney, J. & Newton, S. (2000). Republic of Ireland. Pp. 365-416 in M.F. Heath & M.I. Evans, eds. Important Bird Areas in Europe: Priority sites for conservation 1: Northern Europe. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 8). Hurley, J. (1994). The south Wexford coast Ireland - A natural heritage coastline. Grange, Kilmore, Co. Wexford, SWC Promotions. Keegan, B.F., McGrath, D., O Foighil, D., O'Connor, B., & Konnecker, G. (1988). Marine fauna of Co. Wexford 8 - Bivalve molluscs from the 'Lough Beltra' dredging programme. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 22: 378-385. Kiely, O., Lidgard, D.C., McKibben, M., Baines, M.E. and Connolly, N. (2000). Grey Seals: Status & Monitoring in the Irish & Celtic Seas. Maritime Ireland/Wales INTERREG report No. 3. Marine Institute, 80 Harcourt St., Dublin. Kinahan, G.H. (1879). Sea beaches, especially those of Wexford and Wicklow. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Series 2:3: 191-208. Knowles, M.C. (1913). Notes on the flora of the Saltees. IV. Lichens. Irish Naturalist, 22: 199-202. Lidgard, D.C., Kiely, O., Rogan, E. and Connolly, N. (2001). The status of breeding grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) on the east and south-east coast of Ireland. Mammalia 65(3): 283-294. Lloyd, C. (1981). The seabirds of Great Saltee. Irish Birds 2: 1-37. Lloyd, C. (1982). Inventory of seabird breeding colonies in Republic of Ireland, Unpublished report, Forestry and Wildlife Service, Dublin. Lloyd, C. (1983). The status of landbirds breeding on Great Saltee, Co. Wexford. Irish Naturalists' Journal 21: 97-103. Lockley, R.M. (1966). The distribution of grey and common seals on the coasts of Ireland. Irish Naturalists' Journal 15: 136-143. Lyons, D.O. (2004). Summary of National Parks & Wildlife Service surveys for common (harbour) seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), 1978 to 2003. Irish Wildlife Manuals No. 13. National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. 67pp. McGrath, D. (1984). Marine fauna of Co. Wexford - 6. The Mysidacea of inshore marine and brackish water habitats. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 21: 251-255. Norton, M., & Healy, B. (1984). Marine fauna of County Wexford - 7. Observations on the ecology and reproductive biology of Sphaeroma hookeri Leach (Isopoda). Irish Naturalists' Journal, 21: 257-262. Norton, T.A. (1970). A survey of the seaweeds of county Wexford. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 16: 390-391. Norton, T.A. (1970). The marine algae of county Wexford, Ireland. British Phycological Journal, 5: 257-266. Ó Cadhla, O., Strong, D., O'Keeffe, C., Coleman, M., Cronin, M., Duck, C., Murray, T., Dower, P., Nairn, R., Murphy, P., Smiddy, P., Saich, C., Lyons, D. and Hiby, A.R. (2007). An assessment of the breeding population of grey seals in the Republic of Ireland, 2005. Irish Wildlife Manuals No. 34. National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland. 60pp. Ó Cadhla, O. and Strong, D. (2007). Grey seal moult population survey in the Republic of Ireland, 2007. Report to the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland. 22pp. O Ceidigh, P., & McGrath, D. (1981). Marine fauna of Co. Wexford: 3 - The first record of the adult of Caridion steveni Lebour (Crustacea: Decapoda) from the Irish coast. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 20: 208. O'Connor, B. (1980). Marine fauna of county Wexford 2 - littoral and brackish water Polychaeta. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 20: 85-93. O'Connor, B.D.S. (1988). Marine fauna of Co Wexford 9 - littoral and benthic Echinodermata and Sipunculida. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 22: 385-388. Orford, J.D., & Carter, R.W.G. (1982). Geomorphological changes on the barrier coast of south Wexford. Irish Geography, 15: 70-84. Parkes, H.M., & Scannell, M.J.P. (1969). A list of marine algae from the Wexford coast. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 16: 15. Perry. K.W. & Warburton, S.W. (1976). The Birds and Flowers of the Saltee Islands. Perry & Warburton, Belfast. Picton, B.E. (1985). Anthozoans (Coelenterata: Anthozoa) new to Ireland and new records of some rarely recorded species. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 21: 484 - 488. Picton, B.E and Costello, M.J. eds. (1997). BioMar Biotope Viewer: a Guide to Marine Habitats, Fauna and Flora of Britain and Ireland (Ver. 2.0) Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin. (Compact Disc). Praeger, R.L. (1913). Notes on the flora of the Saltees. I: Phanerogamia. Irish Naturalist, 22: 181-191. Roche, R. & Merne, O.J. (1977). Saltees: Islands of birds and legends. O'Brien Press, Dublin. Ruttledge, R.F. (1965). Migrant and other birds of Great Saltee, Co. Wexford. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 63 Section B: No. 4: 71-86. Stelfox, A.W. (1922). Botanical notes from south-east Wexford. Irish Naturalist, 31: 100-102. Summers, C.F. (1983). The grey seal Halichoerus grypus, in Ireland. Unpublished report to the Minister of Fisheries, Forestry & Wildlife, Dublin.


Back to top No data


Back to top

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation



Back to top
Map delivered as PDF in electronic format (optional)