Image: Alcyonium digitatum (Dead mans fingers)


‘Dead man’s fingers, but full of life

These reefs are ridges of bedrock or stable boulders, colonised by a variety of marine life. They are home to soft corals, sea fans, sea squirts and sponges. They also act as coastal protection as they reduce the impact of waves.

This habitat is also an important breeding, feeding and nursery site for a wide range of fish and shellfish.

Image: Alcyonium digitatum (Dead mans fingers)

The Firth of Lorne has some of the best rocky reef communities in Europe. In 2005 the area was designated a Special Area of Conservation to protect the abundant life on its reefs.

Physical contact with mobile fishing gear can harm animal communities living on rocky reefs. This type of fishing was banned in the Firth of Lorn SAC in 2007.

Since then, life on and around these reefs has recovered spectacularly.

A few boats still dredge the closed area for scallops, although fishing industry bodies do not support this illegal practice.

     Soft corals and rocky reefs

Alcyonium digitatum & Caryophyllia smithii 


Image: SNH


  Depth: 10-50m