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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Balanus crenatus and/or Spirobranchus triqueter with spirorbid worms and coralline crusts on severely-scoured vertical infralittoral rock

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Very exposed, Exposed
Tidal streams Moderately strong (1-3 kn), Weak (>1 kn), Very weak (negligible)
Substratum Bedrock
Zone Infralittoral, Sublittoral fringe
Depth Band 0-5 m, 5-10 m, 10-20 m
Other Features Scoured vertical or overhanging

Download comparative physical and biological data. The comparative tables enable a rapid comparison of the species composition and principal physical characteristics between a given set of biotopes.

Distribution of habitat IR.FIR.SG.CC.BalSpi <I>Balanus crenatus</I> and/or <I>Spirobranchus triqueter</I> with spirorbid worms and coralline crusts on severely-scoured vertical infralittoral rock

  • Records used to define the biotope (core records)
  • Other records assigned to this biotope, marked as 'certain'
  • Other records assigned to this biotope, marked as 'uncertain'
  • Predicted extent of the level 3 (for sublittoral rock & deep sea) or 4 (for sublittoral sediment) habitat

Point data based on records in the UK Marine Recorder Snapshot. Predicted habitat extent is from UKSeaMap.


Severely scoured bedrock in wave-surged caves, tunnels or gullies often looks rather bare, and may be characterised by a limited scour-tolerant fauna of Balanus crenatus and/or Spirobranchus triqueter with spirorbid polychaetes. In areas where sufficient light is available, encrusting coralline algae and non-calcareous crusts cover the rock surface, giving a pink appearance. This biotope most commonly occurs at the bottom of walls in caves and gullies, where abrasion by cobbles and stones is severe, especially during winter. In some gullies, extreme scouring and abrasion produces a narrow band of bare coralline algal crust at the very bottom of the walls, with a band of P. triqueter and or B. crenatus immediately above. In some caves extreme wave surge at the back of the cave leads to a zone of this biotope which may also be dominated solely by sprorbids or by the barnacle Verruca stroemia. Other scour-tolerant species, such as encrusting bryozoans may also be common. Crevices and cracks in the rock provide a refuge for sponge crusts, small Mytilus edulis and occasional Actinia equina, Urticina felina and Cylista elegans. More mobile fauna is usually restricted to the echinoderm Asterias rubens and the crab Cancer pagurus. During periods of relative stability in the summer, small quantities of foliose red seaweeds and opportunistic kelps may occur where sufficient light is available; the seaweeds however do not dominate (compare with FoSwCC).


Generally occurs at the base of walls in caves and gullies, but in extreme surge may occur as a zone at the back of caves. Immediately above this zone a variety of biotopes may occur depending on the proximity to the cave/gully entrance. Typically sponge crusts and ascidians with a hydroid-bryozoan turf will occur in the outer to mid section (CrSpAsAn, CrSpAsDenB); sponge crusts and dense ascidians in the outer to rear section (DenCcor); and low-growing sponge crusts at the rear of caves (CrSp). At some sites, CC.BalPom can form a zone towards the rear of the cave, beyond the sponge crust zone.

Temporal variation


Characterising species

Taxon Relative importance of taxon for defining this community (%) Typical abundance - SACFOR scale % of core records where taxon was recorded
Balanus crenatus 33 Abundant 61-80%
Corallinaceae 17 Common 41-60%
Spirobranchus triqueter 11 Common 41-60%
Cancer pagurus 6 Occasional 41-60%
Spirorbinae 5 Abundant 41-60%
Urticina felina 4 Frequent 41-60%
Asterias rubens 3 Occasional 21-40%
Porifera indet crusts 3 Occasional 21-40%
Cylista elegans 3 Occasional 21-40%
Bryozoa indet crusts 2 Common 21-40%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Coralline crusts and crustaceans on mobile boulders or cobbles in surge gullies. Occurs on mobile boulders on gully/cave floors.

This biotope occurs in surge gully entrances on bedrock. It is less scoured which allows foliose seaweeds develop.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code
2015 (15.03) IR.FIR.SG.CC.BalPom
1996 (6.95) SS.EIR.BcreSpi
1996 (6.95) SS.EIR.CCPom

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