BIOTIC Species Information for Eunicella verrucosa
Researched byDr Keith Hiscock Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameEunicella verrucosa Common namePink sea fan
MCS CodeD611 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumCnidaria Subphylum
SuperclassAnthozoa ClassOctocorallia
Subclass OrderGorgonacea
Suborder FamilyPlexauridae
GenusEunicella Speciesverrucosa

Additional InformationMay be confused with Swiftia pallida, which occurs in Scotland northwards to Scandinavia but is much less branched, has generally thinner branches and may be white or rose coloured.
Taxonomy References Howson & Picton, 1997, Manuel, 1988,
General Biology
Growth formArborescent / Arbuscular
Feeding methodPassive suspension feeder
Mobility/MovementPermanent attachment
Environmental positionEpibenthic
Typical food typesSuspended matter including plankton HabitAttached
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeMedium-large(21-50cm)
Height25-50 cm Growth Rate10 mm/year
Adult dispersal potentialNone DependencyIndependent
SociabilityColonial Host forTritonia nilsohdneri, Amphianthus dohrnii, Simnia patula.
General Biology Additional InformationThe sea fan anemone Amphianthus dohrnii specifically lives on sea fans. The sea slug Tritonia nilsohdneri feeds on sea fans and is camouflaged to look like the sea fan. The 'poached egg shell' Simnia patula feeds on sea fans and observations at Lundy (K. Hiscock, R. Irving pers. comm.) suggest that their egg laying might cause mortality (see 'Additional Information' in Adult Sensitivity). Other species colonize damaged or partially dead sea fans where the coenenchyme has been lost, especially barnacles, bryozoans and ascidians.
Biology References Anonymous, 1999(l),
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandRecorded northwards to north Pembrokeshire and eastwards to Portland Bill in Britain. Common in parts of south Devon and Cornwall and at Lundy. Present on the south and west coasts of Ireland but common only in Galway and Donegal Bays.
Global distributionSouth and west coasts of Britain and Ireland south to north-west Africa and present in the western Mediterranean (Carpine, 1975; Manual, 1988).
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range4m to at least 50m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationOlder records suggest that the species occurred in the English Channel almost to the Thames Estuary (Margate). May occur in south-west Scotland but records needed (Manual, 1988)

Substratum preferencesArtificial (e.g. metal/wood/concrete)
Large to very large boulders
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Biological zoneUpper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Wave exposureVery Exposed
Moderately Exposed
Tidal stream strength/Water flowModerately Strong (1-3 kn)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Carpine & Grasshoff, 1975, Anonymous, 2001, Manuel, 1988, Bavestrello et al., 1997,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeInsufficient information
Developmental mechanismLecithotrophic
Reproductive SeasonInsufficient information Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencyAnnual episodic Regeneration potential No
Life span21-100 years Age at reproductive maturityInsufficient information
Generation timeInsufficient information FecundityInsufficient information
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeInsufficient information
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential100-1000m Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stageNot relevant   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationThe age of Eunicella verrucosa colonies can be determined (destructively) from growth rings in the axis. There is one growth ring per annum as evidenced by studies that measured growth rate in marked fans and then harvested the sea fans to count growth rings (Keith Hiscock, unpublished studies). Growth rate can be highly variable with an increase in branch length of up to 6 cm in some branches in one year and virtually none in others in Lyme Bay populations (C. Munro, pers. comm.) in one year. About 1 cm per annum increase in branch length was recorded in marked colonies at Lundy corresponding to measures of branch length correlated with number of annual growth rings (Keith Hiscock, unpublished studies, see above). There is no specific information on reproduction in Eunicella verrucosa but observation of the occurrence of small colonies suggests that production and settlement of larvae is successful in occasional years in south-west Britain. The larvae are most likely lecithotrophic and have a short life. Colonies seem to take some time if ever to colonize wrecks that are distant (>1 km) from existing populations. For the morphologically similar Paramuricea clavata in the Mediterranean, Coma et al. (1995) described reproduction and the cycle of gonadial development with spawning occurring 3-6 days after full or new moon in summer. Spawned eggs adhered to a mucus coating to female colonies: a feature that would be expected to have been readily observed if it occurred in Eunicella verrucosa. Maturation of planulae took place among the polyps of the parent colony and, on leaving the colony, planulae immediately settled on surrounding substrata. It seems more likely that planulae of Eunicella verrucosa are released immediately from the polyps and are likely to drift.
Reproduction References Coma et al., 1995,
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