Description of [Caryophyllia smithii] and sponges with [Pentapora foliacea], [Porella compressa] and crustose communities on wave-exposed circalittoral rock
This variant is typically found on the upper faces and vertical sides of wave-exposed bedrock or boulders subject to moderately strong to weak tidal streams. The fauna is often sparse with the frequently observed Echinus esculentus giving it a grazed appearance, but the community may also be affected by violent storm action working into deep water during winter storms. Despite this spartan appearance, the community is relatively diverse and contains a wide range of sponges, hydroids, bryozoans and echinoderms. This variant is found on open coasts or offshore, and is characterised by the cup-coral Caryophyllia smithii, Alcyonium digitatum, the sea urchin Echinus esculentus, large specimens of the sponge Cliona celata, encrusting bryozoans and encrusting red algae. Although this variant tends to occur in deep water (depth range of 20-30m), a high degree of water clarity allows some red algae to grow at these depths. Other species recorded include large specimens of Haliclona viscosa, the bryozoans Parasmittina trispinosa, Porella compressa and Pentapora foliacea, the sea cucumbers Holothuria forskali and Aslia lefevrei and sparse hydroids such as Abietinaria abietina, Nemertesia antennina, Nemertesia ramosa and Halecium halecinum. Anemones such as Corynactis viridis, Sagartia elegans and Urticina felina are also frequently seen. Various other species characteristic of wave-exposed rock include the sponges Pachymatisma johnstonia, Stelligera stuposa, the starfish Luidia ciliaris, Marthasterias glacialis, Asterias rubens, Henricia oculata, the crinoid Antedon bifida, the barnacle Balanus crenatus, the top shell Calliostoma zizyphinum and the polychaete Pomatoceros triqueter. The majority of the records within this variant originate from the west coast of Ireland. Situation: Exposed kelp forest and park biotopes such as unit A3.115 with species such as Laminaria hyperborea are typically found shallower than this biotope. Deeper, this biotope is believed to graduate into A4.121 (deep erect sponges), as both these biotopes are common around the west coast of Ireland.