Colonies of this species are pink and up to 4 cm high and 5 cm wide when the polyps are contracted. The colonies typically form thick, fleshy masses of irregular shaped, stout, finger-like projections. Colonies may densely cover several square metres of rock. Alcyonium hibernicum is very similar in colour and morphology to Alcyonium coralloides and may be distinguished by its lobate or digitate morphology which differs to the more encrusting Alcyonium coralloides. Also, Alcyonium hibernicum is found only on shaded or overhanging rock surfaces.The taxonomy of the species has been recently revised by McFadden (1999). Alcyonium hibernicum was previously described as Alcyonium coralloides and Parerythopodium coralloides. Alcyonium hibernicum was also named Alcyonium pusillum by Tixier-Durivault and Lafargue (1966). McFadden (1999) considered Alcyonium hibernicum and Alcyonium coralloides to be separate species and suggested that they represented clades of five different species based on allozyme polymorphisms. In 2004 McFadden and Hutchinson suggested that Alcyonium hibernicum originates as a hybrid, with Alcyonium coralloides being one parent.
This small soft coral typically forms Alcyonium
-like fingers up to 40mm tall. It is pink in colour, with white flecks on the tentacles. May be confused with small colonies of Alcyonium digitatum
but habitat preferences, colour and 'spangled' appearance of polyps should enable a positive identification.
Very local on west coasts of the British Isles, north to Mull, western Scotland. Can be quite common in suitable localities.