Bathymetric distribution and growth rates of Eunicella verrucosa (Cnidaria: Gorgoniidae) populationsalong the Marseilles coast (France)


  • Stéphane Sartoretto IFREMER, Zone Portuaire de Brégaillon
  • Patrice Francour Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis



Eunicella verrucosa, Mediterranean Sea, growth rate, population structure


Gorgonians are important organisms in the Mediterranean Sea, where they form rocky benthic communities. Four main species (3 Holaxonia and 1 Scleraxonia) are predominant in infra- and circalittoral communities of the northwestern Mediterranean basin. Other species, such as Eunicella verrucosa (Pallas, 1766), are more rarely encountered. The expansion to unusually shallow bathymetric levels has been noted in the region of Marseilles (France) (between 20 and 40 m depth). A ten-year monitoring of colonies was used to assess the growth rate according to age (size): from 3.33 cm year–1 (height < 15 cm) to 0.62 cm year–1 (height > 40 cm).


Download data is not yet available.


Andrews A.H., Cordes E.E., Mahoney M.M., Munk K., Coale K.H., Caillet G.M., Heifetz J. 2002. Age, growth and radiometric age validation of a deep-sea, habitat-forming gorgonian (Primnoa resedaeformis) from the Gulf of Alaska. Hydrobiologia 471: 101-110.

Arfi R., Arnoux A., Bellan-Santini D., Bella G., Laubier L., Pergent-Martini C., Bourcier M., Dukan S., Durbec J.P., Marinopopoulos J., Millot C., Moutin T., Patriti G., Petrenko A. 2000. Impact du grand emissaire de Marseille et de l’Huveaune détournée sur l’environnement marin de Cortiou – Synthèse bibliographique 1960-2000. Rapport Convention Mairie de Marseille/COM, 137 pp.

Astraldi M., Bianchi C.N., Gasparini G.P., Morri C. 1995. Climatic fluctuations, current variability and marine species distribution: a case study in the Ligurian Sea (north-west Mediterranean). Oceanol. Acta 18(2): 139-149.

Balduzzi A., Bianchi C.N., Cattaneo-Vietti R., Cerrano C., Cocito S., Cotta S., Degl’Innocenti F., Diviacco G., Morgigni M., Morri C., Pansini M., Salvatori L., Senes L., Sgorbini S., Tunesi L. 1992. First data on the benthic communities around the Gallinaria Island (Ligurian Sea, NW Mediterranean). Proceedings of the 10th Meeting of the Italian Association of Oceanology and Limnology, Alassio 4-6 November 1992, pp. 603-617.

Ballesteros E. 2006. Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages: a synthesis of present knowledge. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol.: Ann. Rev. 44:123-195.

Berdar A., Cavallero G. 1980. Coelenterata Ctenophora and Tunicata stranded along the Sicilian coast of the straits of Messina. Mem. Biol. Mar. Oceanogr. 10(1): 19-26.

Bianchi C.N., Dore G., Morri C. 1995. Guida del Subacqueo Naturalista: Mediterraneo e Tropici. Archivio Fotografico Sardo (ed.), Nuoro, 277 pp.

Calvín Calvo J.C. 1995. El ecosystema marino mediterraneo. Guia de su flora y fauna. Calvín Calvo ed., Murcia, 797 pp.

Carballo J.L., Naranjo S.A., García-Gómez J.C. 1996. Use of marine sponges as stress indicators in marine ecosystems at Algeciras Bay (southern Iberian Peninsule). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 135: 109-122.

Carpine C. 1963. Contribution à la connaissance des Gorgones Holaxonia de la Mediterranean occidentale. Bull. Inst. océanogr. Monaco 60(1270): 1-52.

Carpine C., Grasshoff M. 1975. Les Gorgonaires de la Mediterranean. Bull. Inst. Océanogr. Monaco 71(1430): 1-140.

Cocito S., Bedulli D., Sgorbini S. 2002. Distribution patterns of the sublittoral epibenthic assemblages on a rocky shoal in the Ligurian Sea (NW Mediterranean). Sci. Mar. 66(2): 175-181.

Coma R., Ribes M., Zabala M., Gili J.M. 1995. Reproduction and cycle of gonadal development in the Mediterranean gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 117: 173-183.

Coma R., Ribes M., Zabala M., Gili. J.M. 1998. Growth in a modular colonial marine invertebrates. Estuar. Coast. Shef Sci. 47: 459-470.

Coma R., Ribes M., Gili J.M., Zabala M. 2000. Seasonality in coastal benthic ecosystems. Trends Ecol. Evol. 15: 448-453.

Coppo S., Diviacco G., Tunesi L. 2009. Environmental and conservation relevance of the Punta Manara coralligenous beds (Eastern Ligurian Sea). Proceedings of the 1st Symposium on the Coralligenous and other calcareous bioconcretions of the Mediterranean Sea, Tabarka 15-16 January 2009, pp. 75-81.

Crisp D.J. 1984. Energy Flow Measurements. In: Holme N.A., McIntyre A.D. (eds), Methods for the study of marine benthos, IBP Handbook No. 16, pp. 284-372.

Francour P., Sartoretto S. 1992. Lophogorgia ceratophyta (L.) (Gorgoniidae) in the Bay of Marseilles. Rapp. P. V. Comiss. Internation. Explor. Sci. Médit. 33: p 38.

Francour P., Boudouresque C.F., Harmelin J.G., Harmelin-Vivien M., Quignard J.P. 1994. Are the Mediterranean waters becoming warmer? Information from biological indicators. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 28(9): 523-526.

Francour P., Cottalorda J.M., Dufour F. 2005. Mise à jour de l’inventaire de la faune ichtyologique de la Principauté de Monaco. Contrat Ministère d’état de la Principauté de Monaco, Service Environnement, & Laboratoire Environnement Marin Littoral, LEML Pub., Nice, 30 pp.

Froget C. 1974. Essai sur la géologie du pré-continent de la Provence occidentale. PhD thesis, Univ. Aix-Marseille, 219 pp.

Garrabou J., Harmelin J.G. 2002. A 20-year study on life-history traits of a harvested long-lived temperature coral in the NW Mediterranean: insight into conservation and management needs. J. Anim. Ecol. 71: 966-978.

Garrabou J., Coma R., Bally M., Bensoussan N., Chevaldonné P., Cigliano M., Diaz D., Harmelin J.G., Gambi M.C., Kersting D. K., Lejeusne C., Linares C., Marschal C., Pérez T., Ribes M., Romano J.C., Serrano E., Teixidó N., Torrents O., Zabala M., Zuberer F., Cerrano C. 2009. Mass mortality in northwestern Mediterranean rocky benthic communities: effects of the 2003 heat wave. Global Change Biol. 15: 1090-1103.

Gili J., Murillo J., Ros J.D. 1989. The distribution pattern of benthic cnidarians in the Western Mediterranean. Sci. Mar. 53: 19-35.

Gili J.M., Coma R. 1998. Benthic suspension feeders: Their paramount role in littoral marine food webs. Trends Ecol. Evol. 13: 316-321.

Grasshoff M. 1992. Die Flachwasser-Gorgonarien von Europa und Westafrika (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). Cour. Forsch. -Inst. Senckenberg 149: 1-135.

Harmelin J.G., Ruitton S. 2010. The thermophilic Asteroidea Ophidiaster ophidianus on the NW Mediterranean coasts: evidence of frequency increase. Sci. Rep. Port-Cros natl. Park 24: 127-137.

Hiscock K. 2003. Where have all the corals gone? Mar. Conserv. 6: 8-9.

Hiscock K., Sharrock S., Highfield J. Snelling D. 2010. Colonization of an artificial reef in south-west England ex-HMS “Scylla”. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 90(1): 69-94.

IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available from (accessed on April 2011)

Kovacic M., Arko Pijevac M. 2008. Habitat preferences, distribution and abundance of Gobius vitatus (Gobidae) in the Kvarner area (Northern Adriatic Sea). Vie Milieu 58(1): 39-45.

Lafargue F. 1969. Peuplements sessiles de l’archipel des Glénans. Vie Milieu 20(2-B): 415-436.

Laubier L. 2001. Climatic changes and trends and marine invertebrates: a need for relevant observing networks and experimental ecophysiology, Atti Assoc. Ital. Oceanol. Limnol. 14: 15-24.

Laubier L., Emig C. 1993. La faune benthique profonde de Méditerranée. In: Symposium Mediterranen Seas 2000, F.R. Della Croce (ed.), Inst. Sci. amb. mar., S. Margherita Ligure, pp. 397-428.

Le Mesa G., Vacchi M. 1999. An Analysis of the Coastal Fish Assemblage of the Ustica Island Marine Reserve (Mediterranean Sea). P.S.Z.N. Mar. Ecol. 20(2): 147-165.

Linares C., Doak D.F., Coma R., Díaz D., Zabala M. 2007. Life history and viability of a long-lived marine invertebrate: the Octocoral Paramuricea clavata. Ecol. Soc. Am. 88(4): 918-928.

Marschal C., Garrabou J., Harmelin J.G., Pichon M. 2004. A new method for measuring growth and age in the precious red coral Corallium rubrum (L.). Coral Reefs 23: 423-432.

Mistri M 1995. Population structure and secondary production of the Mediterranean Octocoral Leptogorgia sarmentosa (L., 1758). P.S.Z.N.I. Mar. Ecol. 16: 181-188.

Mistri M., Ceccherelli. V.U. 1993. Growth of the Mediterranean gorgonian Lophogorgia ceratophyta (L., 1758). P.S.Z.N.I. Mar. Ecol. 14: 329-340.

Mistri M., Ceccherelli. V.U. 1994. Growth and secondary production of the Mediterranean gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 103: 291-296.

Mitchell N.D., Dardeau M.R., Schroeder W.W. 1993. Colony morphology, age structure and relative growth of two gorgonian corals, Leptogorgia hebes (Verrill) and Leptogorgia virgulata (Lamack), from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Coral Reefs 12: 65-70.

Mortensen P.B., Buhl-Mortensen L. 2005. Morphology and growth of the deep-water gorgonians Primnoa resedaeformis and Paragorgia arborea. Mar. Biol. 147: 775-788.

Munro C.D., Munro L. 2003. Eunicella verrucosa: investigating growth and reproduction from a population ecology perspective. PHMS Newsletter 13: 29-31.

Munro L. 2004. Determining the reproductive cycle of Eunicella verrucosa. Reef Research: ETR 11. July 2004.

Norris R.E. 1992. Ceramiales (Rhodophyceae) genera new to South Africa, including new species of Womersleyella and Herposiphonia. S. Afr. J. Bot. 58: 65-76.

Özaydin O., Katagan T., Ünsal S. 1995. The Echinoderms of the Turkish seas. Isr. J. Zool. 41(1): 57-68.

Perez T., Garrabou J., Sartoretto S., Harmelin J.G., Francour P., Vacelet J. 2000. Mass mortality of marine invertebrates: an unprecedented event in the Northwestern Mediterranean. C. R. Acad. Sci. (Serie III) 323: 853-865.

Pradal M.A., Millet B. 2006. Hétérogénéité du vent: fonctionnement des récifs artificiels et circulation des eaux dans la baie sud de Marseille. C. R. Biol. 329(7): 541-550. PMid :16797460

Quignard J.P. 1966. Recherches sur les Labridae (Poissons téléostéens Perciformes) des côtes européennes. Systématique et biologie. Nat. Monspel. Zool. 5: 1-247.

Quignard J.P., Pras A. 1986. Labridae. In: P.J.P. Whitehead, M.L. Blauchot, J.C. Hureau, Nielsen J. and Tortonese E. (eds.), Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. 2., UNESCO, Paris, France, pp. 919-942. Ribes M., Coma R., Gili J.M. 1999. Heterogeneous feeding in benthic suspension feeders: the natural diet and grazing rate of the temperate gorgonian Paramuricea clavata (Cnidaria: Octocorallia) over a year cycle. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 183: 125-137.

Ribes M., Coma R., Rossi S. 2003. Natural feeding of the temperate asymbiotic octocoral-gorgonian Leptogorgia sarmentosa (Cnidaria: Octocorallia). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 254: 141-150.

Rossi L. 1959. Le specie di Eunicella (Gorgonaria) del golfo di Genova. Ann. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. Genova 71: 203-225.

Rossi L. 1961. Sur un faciès à Gorgonaires de la pointe du Mesco (Golfe de Gênes). Rapp. P. V. C.I.E.S.M 16(2): 517-521.

Rouch J. 1941. Température et salinité de l’eau de mer à Marseille et à Monaco. Bull. Inst. océanogr. Monaco 801: 1-15.

Sartoretto S, Francour P., Harmelin J.G. Charbonnel E. 1997. Observations in situ de deux Labridae profonds, Lappanella fasciata (Cocco, 1833) et Acantholabrus palloni (Risso, 1810), en Mediterranean nord-occidentale. Cybium 21(1): 37-44.

Skoufas G., Poulicek M., Chintiroglou C.C. 2000. Growth variation of Eunicella singularis (Esper, 1794) (Gorgonacea, Anthozoa). Belg. J. Zool. 130(1): 121-124.

Tortonese E. 1984. Notes on the Mediterranean sea-star Peltaster placenta (M. Tr.) (Echinodermata, Asteroidea). Boll. Mus. Civ. Stor. Nat. Verona 11: 99-112.

Tsounis G., Rossi S., Laudien J., Bramanti L., Fernàndez N., Gili J.M., Arntz W. 2006. Diet and seasonal prey capture rates in the Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum L.). Mar. Biol. 149(2): 313-325.

Vafidis D. 2009. First record of Leptogorgia sarmentosa (Octocorallia: Gorgoniidae) from the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Mar. Biodiv. Rec. 2: e17.

Vélimirov B., Weinbauer M.G. 1991. Population structure and growth of the Mediterranean octocoral Eunicella cavolinii. Proceeding of the 25th EMBS Ferrara, 1990

Weinberg S. 1976. Revision of the common Octocorallia of the Mediterranean circalittoral. I. Gorgonacea. Beaufortia 24(313): 63-104.

Weinberg S. 1978. Mediterranean octocorallian communities and the abiotic environment. Mar. Biol. 49: 33-40.

Weinberg S. 1979. Autecology of shallow-water octocorallia from Mediterranean rocky substrata, I. The Banyuls area. Bijdr. Dierk. 49(1): 1-15.

Weinberg S., Weinberg F. 1979. The life cycle of a gorgonian: Eunicella singularis (Esper, 1794). Bijdr. Dierk. 49: 16-30.

Zibrowius H. 1991. Chaetaster longipes (Echinodermata, Astroidea): Distribution in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Mésogée 51: 75-81.




How to Cite

Sartoretto S, Francour P. Bathymetric distribution and growth rates of Eunicella verrucosa (Cnidaria: Gorgoniidae) populationsalong the Marseilles coast (France). Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2012Jun.30 [cited 2024Apr.20];76(2):349-55. Available from: