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Marine Habitat Classification

Description of biotope or habitat type

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   Virgularia mirabilis and Ophiura spp. with Pecten maximus, hydroids and ascidians on circalittoral sandy or shelly mud with stones

Physical habitat description

Salinity Full (30-35 ppt), Variable (18-35 ppt)
Wave exposure Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered
Tidal streams Moderately strong (1-3 kn), Weak (>1 kn), Very weak (negligible)
Substratum Gravely mud; shelly mud; sandy mud with stones or shells
Zone Circalittoral
Depth Band 5-10 m, 10-20 m, 20-30 m, 30-50 m
Other Features

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.SMu.CSaMu.VirOphPmax.HAs <I>Virgularia mirabilis</I> and <I>Ophiura</I> spp. with <I>Pecten maximus</I>, hydroids and ascidians on circalittoral sandy or shelly mud with stones

  • 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.


Circalittoral fine sandy mud with shell gravel and notable quantities of shells or small stones scattered over the sediment surface. These sediments, like SMU.VirOphPmax, may contain Virgularia mirabilis, Pecten maximus and Ophiura spp. but shells and small stones scattered over the sediment surface provided sufficient stable substrata for a variety of sessile epifaunal species to occur. Of these the hydroids Kirchenpaueria pinnata, Nemertesia antennina and Nemertesia ramosa are most common with solitary ascidians such as Corella parallelogramma and Ascidia mentula also present. The anemone Cerianthus lloydii is often found in the sediment together with occasional Lanice conchilega. The serpulids Protula tubularia, Serpula vermicularis and Pomatoceros triqueter and the barnacles Balanus balanus and Balanus crenatus are also often present on pebbles and shells. Munida rugosa are occasionally found under larger stones. All these species are typical of more rocky habitats in such sheltered conditions. As with SMU.VirOphPmax this biotope is primarily identified on the basis of its epifauna and may be an epibiotic overlay over other closely related biotopes such as AfilMysAnit and AfilNten.


No situation data available.

Temporal variation

No temporal data available.

Characterising species

Taxon Typical abundance - SACFOR scale % of core records where taxon was recorded
Halecium halecinum Occasional 21-40 %
Kirchenpaueria pinnata Occasional 41-60 %
Nemertesia antennina Occasional 21-40 %
Nemertesia ramosa Occasional 41-60 %
Virgularia mirabilis Occasional 61-80 %
Cerianthus lloydii Occasional 61-80 %
Chaetopterus variopedatus Occasional 21-40 %
Lanice conchilega Occasional 41-60 %
Pomatoceros triqueter Occasional 41-60 %
Serpula vermicularis Occasional 21-40 %
Protula tubularia Occasional 21-40 %
Balanus balanus Occasional 21-40 %
Balanus crenatus Occasional 21-40 %
Pagurus bernhardus Occasional 41-60 %
Pagurus prideaux Rare 41-60 %
Munida rugosa Occasional 21-40 %
Inachus dorsettensis Rare 21-40 %
Liocarcinus depurator Occasional 41-60 %
Turritella communis Occasional 21-40 %
Aporrhais pespelecani Rare 21-40 %
Buccinum undatum Occasional 21-40 %
Pecten maximus Occasional 61-80 %
Crossaster papposus Rare 21-40 %
Asterias rubens Occasional 61-80 %
Ophiura albida Frequent 41-60 %
Ophiura ophiura Occasional 21-40 %
Echinus esculentus Occasional 41-60 %
Corella parallelogramma Occasional 21-40 %
Ascidia mentula Occasional 41-60 %

Similar biotopes or habitat types

SpnMeg is found on finer muddier sediment and may be characterised by frequent Nephrops norvegicus and other megafaunal species.

VirOphPmax.HAs occurs in more mixed sediments and often slightly deeper water

Greater quantities of stones and shells on the surface give rise to more sessile epibenthic species and distinguish this sub biotope from VirOphPmax.

Classification history of this biotope or habitat type

Classification version Code
97.06 CMS.VirOph.HAs

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