Biodiversity & Conservation

Dead man's fingers - Alcyonium digitatum - General information

Alcyonium digitatum

Image Sue Scott - Dense bed of Alcyonium digitatum. Image width ca 75 cm in foreground.
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Distribution map

Alcyonium digitatum recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

Why do the maps differ?

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Alcyonium digitatum is not listed under any importance categories.

General information

Key Icon Researched by: Georgina Budd Text page icon Refereed by: Dr Richard G. Hartnoll

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy

Phylum Cnidaria Sea anemones, corals, sea firs & jellyfish
Class Octocorallia
Map icon Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland Found on all British and Irish coasts.
Habitat information icon Habitat information Attached to rocks, shells and stones where the otherwise dominant algae are inhibited by a lack of light and occasionally on living crabs and gastropods. Generally found in situations where strong water movement prevails. Occasionally on the lower shore but more common sublittorally, down to about 50 m.
Text page icon Description Mature colonies form thick, fleshy masses of irregular shape, typically of stout, finger-like lobes that usually exceed 20 mm in diameter. Young, developing colonies form encrustations about 5 -10mm thick. The height and breadth of colonies are up to 200 mm. Colonies are white or orange in colour, but may appear reddish or brownish during periods of inactivity when the polyps are withdrawn into the colony, owing to the development of a film of epibiota.

This review can be cited as follows:

Georgina Budd 2008. Alcyonium digitatum. Dead man's fingers. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 01/12/2015]. Available from: <>