Biodiversity & Conservation

Overhangs and caves



Image Keith Hiscock - A well developed overhang community with pendulous polyclinid tunicates. Image width ca 1 m.
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Distribution map

LR.LR.Ov recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Present on rocky coasts all around Britain and Ireland.

Habitat preferences

Temperature range preferences - Insufficient information

Water clarity preferences - No preference

Limiting Nutrients - Not relevant

Other preferences - No text entered

Additional information

Overhanging surfaces and small caves occur especially where rocks are stratified and angled so that downward facing surfaces are present. Caves may form where basalt dykes erode and collapse amongst other harder igneous rocks. Soft rock such as chalk and limestone may also erode as a result of wave action to form caves. Cave habitats do not differ greatly in the communities present from those of overhangs or, on wave exposed coasts, surge gullies. Particularly well-developed examples of caves occur around Papa Stour in Shetland and St Kilda with intertidal cave habitats in chalk substrata especially well developed in Kent.

This review can be cited as follows:

Hiscock, K. 2002. Overhangs and caves. 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: <>