Biodiversity & Conservation

Grazed Laminaria hyperborea with coralline crusts on infralittoral rock



Image Keith Hiscock - Grazed Laminaria hyperborea forest with coralline crusts on upper infralittoral rock (MIR.LhypGz.Ft). Image width ca 2 m.
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Distribution map

IR.MIR.GzK.LhypGz.Ft recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under EC Habitats Directive
National importance Not available
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Reefs
Large shallow inlets and bays

Biotope importance

MIR.LhypGz is important as a habitat for fish which in turn are predated by mammals, otters and seals especially.


Kelps have been harvested for the alginate industry which produces valuable emulsifiers and gelling agents for cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry. Laminaria hyperborea is harvested commercially in Norway, Brittany, Scotland and Ireland. Wilkinson (1995) reviewed the effects of kelp harvesting. He suggested that extensive shallow kelp beds absorb wave energy, acting as natural coastal defence in some areas and that harvesting should be restricted in theses locations. Echinus esculentus is an important structuring species and is collected commercially but not in numbers that would adversely affect the biotope. It was the object of a specific fishery in Cornwall in the 1980s. Nichols (1981) pointed out that although most divers missed small specimens within kelp beds, population densities should not be allowed to fall below 0.2 per metre to conserve the species in the UK. The possibility of a sea urchin fishery in Shetland for the Japanese market has been investigated (Penfold et al., 1996).

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This review can be cited as follows:

Hiscock, K. 2002. Grazed Laminaria hyperborea with coralline crusts on infralittoral rock. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 30/11/2015]. Available from: <>