Gangly lancer (Nymphon gracile)

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



Nymphon gracile has a smooth body up to 1 cm long. Its body segments are longer than they are wide and the proboscis is at least twice as long as it is wide. The eight legs are long and slender and roughly 3 to 4 times the length of the body. Chelifores of Nymphon gracile have well developed chela and the palps consist of 5 segments, the ultimate and penultimate segments being equal in length. Although the body is translucent, there is a visible, pink alimentary canal. Ovigerous legs occur in both sexes and have prominent toothed spines which are used to clean the surface of the body. Nymphon gracile commonly migrate into the sublittoral to breed during winter months. Males then carry the eggs back to the intertidal zone sometime in March or April. Nymphon gracile generally reach maturity within 5 months and average life expectancy is about a year.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Nymphon gracile may be found all around the coast of the British Isles, although it is less common in the east.

Global distribution



Nymphon gracile can be found in the intertidal and sublittoral of rocky shores.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Slender body
  • Elongated legs, 3 to 4 times the length of the body
  • Chelifores have chela
  • Segmented palps, the ultimate and penultimate are equal in length
  • Ovigerous legs present in both males and females

Additional information

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Listed by

- none -


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

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  5. 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.]

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  8. King, P.E., 1974. British Sea Spiders. Arthropoda: Pycnogonida. London: Academic Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna (New Series) No. 5.]


  1. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. IBIS Project Data. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  4. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  5. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust Shoresearch Intertidal Survey 2004 onwards. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

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

  7. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-16


This review can be cited as:

Heard, J.R. 2006. Nymphon gracile Gangly lancer. 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 16-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 19/04/2006