Red sea fingers (Alcyonium glomeratum)

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



General colony shape similar to Alcyonium digitatum with an irregular, lobed form. However, in this species the lobes are more slender (not more than 2 cm wide), up to 30 cm high and often branched. Blood red or rust in colour, rarely pale orange or yellow, but the polyps are always white. When the polyps are visible, each has eight pinnate tentacles, which give a feathery appearance to the surface of the colony.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Alcyonium glomeratum is mainly found on the south and west coasts of Britain and Ireland but occurs as far north as western Scotland.

Global distribution



On bedrock in gullies and caves at locations sheltered from strong wave action below 10 -15 m. It can also be found on more open coasts in the far south west.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Irregular lobed form.
  • Lobes up to 30 cm high.
  • Lobes slender, not more than 2 cm wide.
  • Blood red or rust in colour.
  • Polyps always white.

Additional information

May be confused with Alcyonium digitatum.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  4. 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.]

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

  6. Manuel, R.L., 1988. British Anthozoa. Synopses of the British Fauna (New Series) (ed. D.M. Kermack & R.S.K. Barnes). The Linnean Society of London [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 18.]. DOI


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

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-21


This review can be cited as:

Pizzolla, P.F 2008. Alcyonium glomeratum Red sea fingers. 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 21-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 17/04/2008