Sandalled anemone (Actinothoe sphyrodeta)

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



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

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. 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. 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

  4. 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. 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.

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

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

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

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

  7. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service., 2017. Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS) Dataset. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Ballerstedt, S. 2007. Actinothoe sphyrodeta Sandalled 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: 08/06/2007