High energy circalittoral rock

Deeper water rock, exposed to very strong waves and currents

As the water depth increases, the lack of sunlight prevents seaweeds from growing, and the marine environment becomes dominated by animal communities.  Unlike shoreline and shallow water areas, this zone is rarely characterised by a single species but is a mosaic of different marine creatures.

The types of animals that live in this zone vary enormously and are affected mainly by wave action, the strength of the tidal stream, the levels of freshwater arriving from rivers, the clarity of the water, the degree of scouring as sand is swept past, and the shape of underwater rock formations.

Some underwater seascapes of bedrock and boulders are swept by strong waves or swift currents.  The animals that thrive here include colourful sponges clinging to the rock and a dense 'carpet' of sea firs. A  large, volcano-shaped barnacle lives here and the soft coral, dead men’s fingers is often present on rocky outcrops.

For the official habitat definition please see the documents listed below.


European distribution

On exposed rocky headlands and coastlines, mainly on the south-west and west coasts of Britain and Ireland, where they are exposed to the prevailing south-westerly wind.


Official habitat definition

EUNIS habitat A4.1 Atlantic and Mediterranean high energy circalittoral rock


Further information

JNCC Marine Habitat Classification

JNCC EUNIS habitat correlations table

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