Coral worm (Salmacina dysteri)

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



A tubeworm between 4-5 mm long and with ca 30 body segments. The body is pink with a colourless, white or pinkish crown of 8 tentacles. Salmacina dysteri live in delicate, calcareous tubes that are almost translucent white and up to 0.5 mm in diameter. These worms occur in dense aggregations that interweave their tubes in a rope-like mass.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common around the British Isles.

Global distribution



Occur on rocks and may be found on the lower shore, but more commonly occur sublittorally in less sheltered areas.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Dense aggregation of interwoven tubes.
  • Tubes white, almost translucent.
  • Eight colourless, white or pinkish tentacles on the head.
  • Body pink and up to 5 mm long.

Additional information

Almost identical to the tubeworm Filograna implexa. The two species can be distinguished by the cup-shaped terminals (opercula) to two of the crown tentacles present in Filograna implexa, which are absent in Salmacina dysteri. Salmacina dysteri may form large globular masses which divers have described as "like brain coral".

Listed by

- none -


  1. Bruce, J.R., Colman, J.S. & Jones, N.S., 1963. Marine fauna of the Isle of Man. Liverpool: Liverpool 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. 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. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

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

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

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


This review can be cited as:

Ballerstedt, S. 2006. Salmacina dysteri Coral worm. 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: 30/11/2006