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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Coralline crusts in surge gullies and scoured 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, boulders, cobbles
Zone Infralittoral, Sublittoral fringe
Depth Band 0-5 m, 5-10 m, 10-20 m
Other Features Caves and surge gullies

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 Coralline crusts in surge gullies and scoured 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.


Scoured rock 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 and scour is severe, 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. Other scour-tolerant species, such as encrusting bryozoans may also be common. Crevices and cracks in the rock provide a refuge for sponge crusts such as Halichondria panicea and occasional anemones Urticina felina and Cylista elegans. More mobile fauna is usually restricted to the echinoderms Asterias rubens and Echinus esculentus as well as the crab Cancer pagurus. Two variants have been identified: Wave-surged bedrock with coralline crust, B. crenatus and P. triqueter (CC.BalPom) and coralline crusts on mobile boulders in severely scoured caves (CC.Mo).


Generally occurring at the base of walls in caves and gullies and on the floors of caves and gullies. 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 with extreme wave surge, 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
Corallinaceae 17 Abundant 41-60%
Balanus crenatus 17 Common 41-60%
Spirobranchus triqueter 13 Frequent 41-60%
Cancer pagurus 7 Occasional 41-60%
Urticina felina 6 Frequent 21-40%
Asterias rubens 5 Occasional 21-40%
Cylista elegans 4 Occasional 21-40%
Halichondria panicea 3 Occasional 21-40%
Porifera indet crusts 2 Occasional 21-40%
Spirorbinae 2 Abundant 21-40%
Echinus esculentus 2 Occasional 21-40%

Similar biotopes or habitat types

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

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