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

Sandalled anemone (Actinothoe sphyrodeta)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



Actinothoe sphyrodeta is a soft, delicate, small anemone. The column is usually short with the base being wider than the column, but the column can also form a tall, neat pillar. The tentacles are translucent white, stout at the base, tapering to fine points, and are irregularly arranged numbering up to 120. The diameter of the base can reach 2 cm, whilst the span of the tentacles may reach up to 3 cm across the disc. Shore specimens may only be half this size. The disc may be either a patchy white or bright yellow/pale orange in colour and usually has vague dark markings surrounding the tentacle bases. The column is smooth and an uneven translucent, dirty white or greyish colour with longitudinal patches of pure white tending to form stripes (giving the common name). Dark dots (cinclides) occur on the upper part of the column.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common around the British Isles with the exception of the east coast of Britain.

Global distribution

Occurs around the Channel Islands and on the Atlantic coast of France. Probably does not occur further north than the southern part of the North Sea. Southern limits also uncertain but occurs at least to Biscay.


Occurs on rocks or other hard substrata, usually on flat surfaces rather than in holes or crevices. Also occurs on various algae such as Laminaria or Himanthalia buttons, and is frequently found in the company of algae, Caryophyllia smithii and the sea anemone Corynactis viridis. Occasionally occurs on the shore in shaded situations but is more commonly found sublittorally down to a depth of about 40 m.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Uneven translucent dirty white or grey column with longitudinal stripes.
  • White, translucent tentacles.
  • White or bright yellow/pale orange disc with vague dark markings at tentacle bases.
  • Up to 120 tentacles.
  • Tentacles span up to 3 cm across the disc.
  • Diameter of column base up to 2 cm.

Additional information

May be confused with Sagartia elegans but Actinothoe sphyrodeta lacks the adhesive spots (suckers) on the column present on Sagartia elegans. The suckers should not be confused with the cinclides (see Manuel, 1988).

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


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

  3. Manuel, R.L., 1988. British Anthozoa. London: Academic Press.[Synopses of the British Fauna, no. 18.]

  4. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

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


This review can be cited as:

Ballerstedt, S. 2007. Actinothoe sphyrodeta Sandalled anemone. 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 17-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 08/06/2007