information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Coralline crusts in surge gullies and scoured infralittoral rock



UK and Ireland classification

UK and Ireland classification


Scoured rock in wave-surged caves, tunnels or gullies often looks rather bare, and may be characterized by a limited scour-tolerant fauna of Balanus crenatus and/or Spirobranchus (Pomatoceros) triqueter with spirorbid polychaetes. In areas where sufficient light is available and scour is severe, encrusting coralline algae and non-calcareous crusts cover the rock surface, giving a pink appearance. This biotope most commonly occurs at the bottom of walls in caves and gullies, where abrasion by cobbles and stones is severe, especially during winter. In some gullies, extreme scouring and abrasion produces a narrow band of bare coralline algal crust at the very bottom of the walls, with a band of Spirobranchus (Pomatoceros) triqueter and/or Balanus crenatus immediately above. Other scour-tolerant species, such as encrusting bryozoans may also be common. Crevices and cracks in the rock provide a refuge for sponge crusts such as Halichondria panicea and occasional anemones Urticina felina and Sagartia elegans. More mobile fauna is usually restricted to the echinoderms Asterias rubens and Echinus esculentus as well as the crab Cancer pagurus. Two variants have been identified: Wave-surged bedrock with coralline crust, Balanus crenatus and Spirobranchus triqueter (CC.BalSpi) and coralline crusts on mobile boulders in severely scoured caves (CC.Mo) (JNCC, 2015).


Depth range

0-5 m, 5-10 m, 10-20 m

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Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?



Species indicative of sensitivity


Physical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Chemical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Biological Pressures

No sensitivity data available

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This review can be cited as:

Tillin, H.M. 2016. Coralline crusts in surge gullies and scoured infralittoral rock. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 19-06-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 21/03/2016