Pink sea fingers (Alcyonium hibernicum)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Colonies of this species are pink and up to 30 mm high when the polyps are contracted. The colonies typically form finger-like projections and are found on rock or other hard inorganic surfaces.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Alcyonium hibernicum has been identified from four sites in Ireland and the Isle of Man. Previous records for Parerythropodium coralloides at other locations in Britain and Ireland are now thought to have been Alcyonium hibernicum.

Global distribution

McFadden (1999) found two forms of Alcyonium hibernicum.One form is found around Britain and Ireland also on the north Atlantic coast of France. The second form is found off the southern coast of Portugal.


Occurs on shaded vertical or overhanging rock surfaces in the shallow subtidal, between 1-30 m depth. Requires at least moderate water movement, to provide a supply of food particles. Alcyonium hibernicum requires some shelter from wave action, such as that provided by the landward side of overhanging rocks.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Colonies are typically lobate or digitate rather than encrusting.
  • Pink sclerites are found in the polyp whereas the tentacular sclerites in the coenenchyme are either pink, white or a mix of the two colours.
  • Very similar in colour and morphology to Alcyonium coralloides.

Additional information

The taxonomy of the species has been recently revised by McFadden (1999). Alcyonium hibernicum was previously described as Alcyonium coralloides and Parerythopodium coralloides. Alcyonium hibernicum was also named Alcyonium pusillum by Tixier-Durivault and Lafargue (1966). McFadden (1999) considered Alcyonium hibernicum and Alcyonium coralloides to be separate species and suggested that they represented clades of five different species based on allozyme polymorphisms.


  1. Hartnoll, R.G., 1977. Reproductive strategy in two British species of Alcyonium. In Biology of benthic organisms, (ed. B.F. Keegan, P.O Ceidigh & P.J.S. Boaden), pp. 321-328. New York: Pergamon Press.

  2. McFadden, C.S., 1999. Genetic and taxonomic relationships among northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of the soft coral Alcyonium corallioides. Marine Biology, 133, 171-184.


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  3. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-15


This review can be cited as:

Hughes, J.R. 2007. Alcyonium hibernicum Pink sea fingers. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 08/06/2007