Biodiversity & Conservation

Virgularia mirabilis and Ophiura spp. on circalittoral sandy or shelly mud



Image Bernard Picton - Virgularia mirabilis, Cerianthus lloydii with Ophiocomina nigra on shelly muddy gravel. Image width ca XX cm.
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Distribution map

SS.SMu.CSaMu.VirOphPmax recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

In Britain occurrence of this biotope is mainly restricted to sealochs on the west coast of Scotland. Also recorded from Orkney and Galway Bay, west Ireland.

Habitat preferences

Temperature range preferences - 5-15°C although where this biotope occurs in shallow water may be subjected to higher temperatures.

Water clarity preferences - Data deficient

Limiting Nutrients - Nitrogen (nitrates)
Phosphorus (phosphates)

Other preferences -

Additional information

Seapen biotopes occur in wave sheltered sealochs and much deeper open sea suggesting that water movement, particularly being sheltered from wave action, is more important to their existence than light.

This review can be cited as follows:

Hill, J.M. & Wilson, E. 2004. Virgularia mirabilis and Ophiura spp. on circalittoral sandy or shelly mud. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 25/11/2015]. Available from: <>