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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Lophelia reefs

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Extremely sheltered
Tidal streams Moderately strong (1-3 kn), Weak (>1 kn)
Substratum Fine silt, rock and other hard substrata
Zone Circalittoral - lower
Depth Band 50-100 m, 100-200 m
Other Features

Biotope origin

Derived using data from Video
Faunal group Epifauna

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 SS.SBR.Crl.Lop <I>Lophelia</I> reefs

  • 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.


Reefs of the coral Lophelia pertusa, typically supporting a range of other biota. Lophelia reefs are generally found in areas of elevated current. The coral provides a three dimensional structure and a variety of microhabitats that provide shelter and a surface of attachment for other species. Boring sponges, anemones, bryozoans, gorgonians including Paragorgia arborea, Paramuricea placomus, Primnoa resedaeformis, polychaetes, barnacles, squat lobsters (Munida sarsi) and bivalves have all been recorded within and among the corals (Wilson, 1979; Mortensen et al. , 1995) Other hard corals such as Madrepora oculata and Solenosmilia variabilis may also be present. Mobile species present include the redfish (Sebastes viviparous and Sebastes marinus), Ling (Molva molva) and tusk (Brosme brosme) (Husebo et al. , 2002).
Note: Although Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758) is accepted as Desmophyllum pertusum (Linnaeus, 1758) in WoRMS, the molecular evidence is uncertain at present (2021) to grant a change in its taxonomic nomenclature. This will be revised once further evidence becomes available.


In British waters Lophelia reefs have been found on fine silt sediment and rock on the continental slope, on rock on the continental shelf, and on other hard structures such as the legs of oil platforms.

Temporal variation

No temporal data available.

Characterising species

Taxon Typical abundance - SACFOR scale % of core records where taxon was recorded
Lophelia pertusa Abundant 81-100%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Not applicable or unknown.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code Habitat name
2015 (15.03) SS.SBR.Crl.Lop Lophelia reefs
2004 (04.05) SS.SBR.Crl.Lop Lophelia reefs
1997 (97.06) SS.COR.COR.Lop Lophelia reefs

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