Snakelocks anemone (Anemonia viridis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



This large anemone has long flexuous tentacles which are a grey-brown or bright green in colour. The green variety has purple tips to the tentacles. The tentacles rarely withdraw into the column, which is reddish or greyish brown.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Present on the western coasts of Britain from Portsmouth all around to the west coast of Scotland where it extends northwards to just south of Cape Wrath. Absent from the east basin of the Irish Sea.

Global distribution



Present mainly in the intertidal especially in pools from mid-tide downwards but not extending far into the sublittoral. However, frequently present, often in large numbers on the leaves of seagrass (e.g. Zostera marina).

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Base lightly but closely adherent, broader than column.
  • Column smooth, disk wide, tentacles long, fairly stout and flexuous - up to about 200.
  • Up to 70 mm across the base with a 180 mm tentacle span.
  • The column is reddish or greyish brown, the disk brown or greyish with white radial lines, tentacles grey-brown or bright green with purple tips.
  • Pale individuals may occur where there is little or no light (for instance when removed to an aquarium).
  • Tentacles rarely withdrawn but are capable of withdrawing fully into the column.

Additional information

Howson & Picton (1997) suggest that there is some evidence that the brown form of Anemonia may be a distinct species but this is yet to be confirmed.

Listed by

- none -


  1. 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.]

  2. Lewis, J.R., 1964. The Ecology of Rocky Shores. London: English Universities Press.

  3. Stephenson, T.A., 1935. The British Sea Anemones, vol. 2. London: Ray Society.


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Cofnod – North Wales Environmental Information Service, 2018. Miscellaneous records held on the Cofnod database. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  4. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Invertebrate Records 1853- 2011. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  5. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2017. Isle of Man wildlife records from 01/01/2000 to 13/02/2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  6. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  7. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1995 to 1999. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  8. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  9. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  10. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  11. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-22

  12. Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, 2018. Invertebrates (except insects), Outer Hebrides. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  13. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Marine and other Aquatic Invertebrates (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Hiscock, K. 2008. Anemonia viridis Snakelocks anemone. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 22-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 29/04/2008