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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Sponges, cup corals and anthozoans on shaded or overhanging circalittoral rock

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Exposed, Moderately exposed
Tidal streams Moderately strong (1-3 kn), Weak (>1 kn)
Substratum Bedrock
Zone Circalittoral
Depth Band 10-20 m, 20-30 m
Other Features Overhangs; caves

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 CR.FCR.Cv.SpCup Sponges, cup corals and anthozoans on shaded or overhanging circalittoral 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.


This biotope occurs on shaded and overhanging rock, such as on cave walls and ceilings although there are very few records of caves in conditions not subject to wave surge (i.e. deeper circalittoral habitats) and almost all are different in species composition. There are also a few examples of similar communities on very deep (70-100 m+) upward-facing rock (in Loch Hourn) and more may be found through the use of ROVs. These often species-rich habitats are almost invariably adjacent to well-mixed turbulent water. Characteristic species include the sponges Stryphnus ponderosus, Dercitus bucklandi, Chelonaplysilla noevus, Pseudosuberites sp. and Spongosorites sp., the anemones Parazoanthus spp., the cup corals Leptopsammia pruvoti, Hoplangia durotrix, Caryophyllia inornatus and the soft coral Alcyonium coralloides. Thymosia guernei is sometimes present. This biotope is likely to need further splitting with further data and analysis.


Subtidal rocky coasts.

Temporal variation


Characterising species

Taxon Typical abundance - SACFOR scale % of core records where taxon was recorded
Alcyonium coralloides Occasional 41-60%
Alcyonium glomeratum Occasional 41-60%
Aplysilla sulfurea Occasional 21-40%
Caryophyllia inornata Occasional 41-60%
Caryophyllia smithii Common 61-80%
Corynactis viridis Common 61-80%
Dercitus bucklandi Occasional 21-40%
Hoplangia durotrix Occasional 21-40%
Leptopsammia pruvoti Occasional 21-40%
Morchellium argus Frequent 41-60%
Pachymatisma johnstonia Frequent 41-60%
Parablennius gattorugine Occasional 21-40%
Parazoanthus anguicomus Occasional 21-40%
Parazoanthus axinellae Occasional 21-40%
Spongosorites Occasional 1-20%
Stelletta grubii Common 41-60%
Stryphnus ponderosus Occasional 1-20%
Thorogobius ephippiatus Occasional 41-60%
Thymosia guernei Common 21-40%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

Not applicable or unknown.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code
1996 (6.95) CR.MCR.SCupPar

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