An erect bryozoan (Bugula neritina)

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



A bryozoan forming upright, dichotomously branching colonies with a foliose, tufted appearance, reaching 8 cm in height. Colonies purplish-brown in colour, embryos are pale brown.Colonies are attached to the substratum by a holdfast. Individual zooids measure 7.5 µm by 2.5 µm and alternate in biserial rows along unilamellar branches. Spines, opercula and avicularia are absent.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Scattered marinas and harbours of Brighton (E. Sussex), the Solent (Hampshire), Poole and Weymouth (Dorset), Torquay and Plymouth (Devon) and Falmouth (Cornwall). Also found in Milford Haven and off the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales.

Global distribution

Found in New Zealand and along Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, U.S.A. Sparse and disparate records exist from Belgian coast, Greece (Ionian & Adriatic Seas), Californian coast of U.S.A., Hawaii, Bay of Bengal and Australia.


Fouls artificial substrata such as ship hulls, docks, wharf pilings and immersed ropes.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Upright, foliose colonies reaching 8 cm height.
  • Rhizoid attachment to substratum.
  • Branches unilamellar and dividing dichotomously.
  • Zooids large, 7.5 µm x 2.5 µm, lacking operculum.
  • Zooids in alternating, biserial rows.
  • Avicularia and spines absent.
  • Colonies purplish-brown with pale brown embryos (when present).

Additional information

There are at least three cryptic species contained within Bugula neritina (Linnaeus, 1758). A shallow water species, a deep water species and a North Atlantic species exist within the U.S.A. but only the shallow water species is known to invade other sites worldwide (Mackie et al., 2006).

Listed by

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

    3. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust Shoresearch Intertidal Survey 2004 onwards. 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: 2024-06-15

    6. West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, 2018. INNS Data: All Taxa (West Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


    This review can be cited as:

    Bilewitch, J. 2009. Bugula neritina An erect bryozoan. 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 15-06-2024]. Available from:

    Last Updated: 28/07/2009