Lyme Bay

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Lyme Bay shown within Great Britain
Golden Cap across Lyme Bay from the Undercliff (Lyme Regis)

Lyme Bay is an area of the English Channel situated in the southwest of England between Torbay in the west and Portland in the east. The counties of Devon and Dorset front onto the bay.

The area around Lyme Bay is part of a World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast, named for its Jurassic geology. The Jurassic Coast runs from near Swanage in the Isle of Purbeck to near Exmouth in East Devon. Many of the earliest discoveries of dinosaur and other prehistoric reptile remains were in the area surrounding Lyme Regis and Charmouth. Notable among these were the discoveries made by self-educated paleontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning, in the 1820's.

The weather in the bay is temperate by English standards, and far more temperate than many other places at a similar latitude. The reason for this is the warming action of the Gulf Stream. The area along the coast of Lyme Bay is thus a popular holiday destination. On 22 March 1993, four schoolchildren died in what is known as the Lyme Bay kayaking tragedy.

Lyme Bay was the site of Exercise Tiger, a practice for run for the D-Day invasion of France in 1944, using the beach called Slapton Sands near Slapton as the practice landing area. The operation went horribly wrong when German E-boats appeared on the scene and killed 749 American Army and Navy personnel in the middle of the bay.

A new ship currently under construction for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary carries the name of the area RFA Lyme Bay


The diving off Lyme Bay is famous. As well as some tank wrecks from the D-Day practice, the marine life is some of the best in Britain and includes the Devon cup coral (Caryophyllia smithii) and rare pink sea fan (Eunicella verrucosa). The reefs are under threat from scallop dredging which destroys the coral's habitat. Devon Wildlife Trust has been campaigning to protect the reefs, calling for an end to the dredging within a 60sq mile zone to help the reefs recover. Currently only about 20% of the reefs is protected by a voluntary agreement.



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50°42′N 2°54′W / 50.700°N 2.900°W / 50.700; -2.900