Pink Sea Fan - Eunicella verrucosa

Status: Vulnerable … Pink Sea Fans are a favourite place for catsharks to attach their mermaid’s purse eggcases

Type: Animal

Location: Most common in the south-west of England and Wales, west and south-west Ireland. Also throughout the north-east Atlantic, south to north Africa and in the Mediterranean.

Size: 30cm tall and 40cm wide when full-grown

Habitat: In areas of strong currents on rocky reefs below 10m deep.

Main Threats:
In the past, sea fans were collected as souvenirs and today suffer damage from trawling and scallop dredging over the flat rocky habitat they thrive in. Awareness of the species is being increased to minimise damage from trawling, and divers should be careful of not breaking a sea fan when underwater. Sea fans on Lundy suffered extensive damage from disease in the early 2000s and through Seasearch, we’re continuing to monitor their gradual recovery.

Pink sea fans are now protected by law in the UK and are also a Biodiversity Action Plan species. They should not be touched or disturbed. Pink sea fans are slow growing and a large colony could be well over 50 years old. The usual size of fully grown colonies is about 30cm tall and 40cm wide but Seasearch diver surveys have recorded them up to 75cm across in the Channel Islands. In some areas, very large numbers grow close together in a ‘forest’, with up to 20 fans per square metre. This usually occurs on deeper flat bedrock or on the flattened plates of wrecks.

Main source: Wood. C, “Sea Anenomes and Corals of Britain and Ireland”, Seasearch. 2013.

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