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

A sponge (Ciocalypta penicillus)

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



Ciocalypta penicillus forms an encrusting cushion, usually about 10 cm in diameter, with a rough upper surface. Firm, but flexible, pointed, conical projections or digits grow upwards from the base. These projections are about 5 cm high and 0.5 cm wide. The cushions are brownish or whitish-yellow in colour, while the digits are usually translucent.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Ciocalypta penicillus is found on the west and south coasts of Britain and at various locations around the coast of Ireland.

Global distribution

Ciocalypta penicillus is found from Denmark to the Mediterranean, including the Azores and Madeira.


Ciocalypta penicillus is usually found attached to upward facing rock surfaces typically covered in clean sand or gravel but sometimes more silty sediment.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Brown or whitish-yellow encrusting cushion up to 10 cm in diameter.
  • Pointed conical digits project upwards from base.
  • Basal cushion often covered in sand or gravel.

Additional information

The basal cushion is often covered by sand or gravel so only the digits are visible.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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  1. 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.

  2. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of 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. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.


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

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

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System),  2020. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2020-07-13

  4. 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:

Ager, O.E.D. 2008. Ciocalypta penicillus A sponge. 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 13-07-2020]. Available from:

Last Updated: 29/04/2008