Boatowners will be asked to keep clear of one half of Studland Bay for the next two years.

Boatowners will be asked to keep clear of one half of Studland Bay for the next two years. This will allow marine conservationists to carry out a study into an underwater field of seagrass which is home to the UK’s largest breeding colony of seahorses.

The study will help to establish if the seagrass, a crucial habitat for spiny and short-snouted seahorses, is being damaged by anchors and moorings. Half of the bay will be marked out while the study is taking place.

Seahorses are already a protected species under the Countryside and Wildlife Act, but a spokesman for Natural England said that it is difficult to enforce the law. “To act, we would need to demonstrate that any damage was in fact damaging the seahorses,” he said, “and we would need to demonstrate that the damage was deliberate or reckless.”