Biodiversity & Conservation

Erect sponges, Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora fascialis on slightly tide-swept moderately exposed circalittoral rock.



Image Rohan Holt - Bedrock with the sea fan Eunicella verrucosa, the soft coral Alcyonium glomeratum and the stalked sponge Raspailia ramosa amongst a hydroid turf. Image width ca 1.0 m.
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Distribution map

CR.HCR.XFa.ByErSp.Eun recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Text page icon Habitat description

Map icon Distribution of biotope in Britain and Ireland Recorded in southern England from Dorset westwards, in the Isles of Scilly and on the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall, Lundy and Skomer. One record from Bardsey Island in north Wales (without Eunicella verrucosa) and also from several locations on the west coast of Ireland including Donegal and Bantry Bays.
National importance Not available

Text page icon Description of biotope

For a full description of this biotope including characterizing species, distribution, survey information and references visit JNCC

Mainly found on exposed and moderately exposed rock, in slight tidal currents and often relatively silty, with a rich variety of species typically including branching and cup sponges, the sea fan Eunicella verrucosa and the ross coral Pentapora foliacea (now Pentapora fascialis). Typically a bryozoan turf of Cellaria spp. and Bugula spp. is present amongst the larger species (see the biotope CR.Bug). The branching sponges Axinella dissimilis, Stelligera spp. and Raspailia spp. are typically present, with cup sponges Axinella infundibuliformis and Phakellia ventilabrum found in some cases. Alcyonium glomeratum and Parerythropodium coralloides (now Alcyonium hibernicum) may also be present and short vertical faces sometimes have the star anemone Parazoanthus axinellae and/or Parazoanthus anguicomus. There are numerous examples of sites with lots of branching and cup sponges where sea fans have not been found (but are often known to be present within the same geographical area); some of these are included in MCR.ErSPbolSH. Diazona violacea is also often recorded in this biotope although it occurs in MCR.ErSSwi also. There are a few instances of Swiftia pallida being found at the same sites (in SW Ireland) as Eunicella verrucosa. Where this biotope occurs on more open coast (e.g. SW Britain and W Ireland) the cotton spinner sea cucumber Holothuria forskali is often present. (Information taken from the Marine Biotope Classification for Britain and Ireland, Version 97.06: Connor et al., 1997a, b).

Additional information icon Additional information

This review can be cited as follows:

Jackson, A. & Hiscock, K. 2000. Erect sponges, Eunicella verrucosa and Pentapora fascialis on slightly tide-swept moderately exposed circalittoral rock.. 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: <>