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

Herring-bone hydroid (Halecium halecinum)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



A regularly branched, stiff, tall hydroid, feather like in appearance, that can reach a height of 25 cm. It has several stems that grow from the fibrous attachment point. Each stem has equally spaced, parallel, alternate branches that grow at an angle of 40-60 degrees to the stem. The branches bear large polyps that protrude out of the funnel like structure that surrounds them. Some secondary branching may occur.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Halecium halecinum has been recorded from all coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution

The species is recorded around the Atlantic coasts of north west Europe, the Mediterranean, and south Africa.


The species occurs on hard substrata such as stones and shells in the shallow sublittoral and deeper.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Tall hydroid reaching up to 25 cm.
  • Regularly spaced, parallel, alternate branches growing at an angle of 40-60 degrees to the stem.
  • Large polyps protrude from funnel like structures.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Cornelius, P.F.S., 1995a. North-west European thecate hydroids and their medusae. Part 1. Introduction, Laodiceidae to Haleciidae. Shrewsbury: Field Studies Council. [Synopses of the British Fauna no. 50]

  2. Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A., 2001. Photographic guide to the sea and seashore life of Britain and north-west Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  5. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017


This review can be cited as:

MacDougall, C.A. 2008. Halecium halecinum Herring-bone hydroid. 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 14-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008