Serpulid reef, Serpula vermicularis.  Jon Moore© SNH. All rights reserved. Please contact CMEU for details - snhmarinephotos@nature.scot

Priority marine feature (PMF) videos

View fascinating marine survey video footage of some of Scotland’s priority marine features.

Northern feather star

The northern feather star is a graceful and curious echinoderm with 10 colourful, 15cm-long arms.

A feather star dances through the water - Loch Sunart

Duration
00:55

The northern feather star (Leptometra celtica) is a graceful and curious echinoderm (Greek for "spiny skinned") with 10 colourful, 15cm long arms. In this fascinating clip which shows different species of feather stars in a sea loch on the west coast.

Flame shell

Flame shells or file shells live on the seabed inside nests built from shells, stones and other materials. Divers spot them only rarely.

A flame shell on the move - Loch Broom

Duration
00:23

Flame shells (Limaria hians) are beautiful bivalve molluscs with a spectacular fringe of orange tentacles - also known as file shells. Flame shells live on the seabed inside nests, which they build from shells, stones and other materials around them. Although rarely seen by divers, in this rare clip, a flame shell seeks shelter after nest disturbance.
Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

European spiny lobster

The European spiny lobster – also known as crayfish or crawfish – often lives in groups in rock crevices, its long antennae poking out. It uses its small front limbs to scavenge food from the seabed. Large eyes allow the lobster to be more active at night.

A European spiny lobster in a bed of brittlestars - Loch Sunart.

Duration
00:42

The body of this large, colourful crustacean can grow up to 60cm, and it has antennae even longer than its body! European spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas) often live in groups in rock crevices. They are scavengers, using their small front limbs to collect food from the seabed. Their big eyes allow them to be more active by night, but occasionally they are seen during the day. Also known as crawfish or crayfish.
Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Lophelia pertusa: a cold-water coral

Cold-water coral reefs are rich feeding grounds for various species. We also think they serve as breeding grounds and refuges for many commercial fish. Video surveys have shown the reefs as home to fish such as ling, pollack, redfish and tusk.

Lophelia pertusa - a cold-water coral in Mingulay.

Duration
00:48

Cold-water coral reefs provide rich feeding grounds for a variety of species. They are also thought to function as breeding areas and refuges for numerous fish, including redfish, ling, tusk and pollack.
Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Maerl: a hard seaweed

Maerl beds are an important habitat for a wide range of smaller marine plants and animals. They’re great places for juvenile animals to hide from predators. Many bivalves, urchins, sea cucumbers, anemones and worms burrow in the maerl gravel beneath the living bed. In places where wave movement stirs the seabed, maerl beds develop into a ‘ridge and furrow’ formation.

A maerl bed in the Sound of Barra.

Duration
01:03

Living maerl is a beautiful purple-pink hard seaweed that can form spiky underwater 'carpets' on the seabed.

Maerl beds are an important habitat for a wide variety of smaller marine plants and animals. They are particularly good places for juvenile animals to hide from predators. Many bivalves, urchins, sea cucumbers, anemones and worms burrow in the maerl gravel beneath the living bed. In places where wave movement stirs the seabed, maerl beds develop into a 'ridge and furrow' formation.

Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Seagrass beds

Many fish and small invertebrates live among seagrass beds, sheltering between the swaying leaves of the plants. Common eelgrass is one type of seagrass. The beautiful kaleidoscope jellyfish (Haliclystus auricula) is strongly associated with seagrass beds.

Seagrass beds make an ideal home - Sound of Barra

Duration
00:55

Eelgrasses (Zostera species) are amongst the very few flowering plants that live in seawater. They belong to a group of plants known as seagrasses. Many different fish and small invertebrates live amongst seagrass beds, sheltering between the swaying leaves of the plants. The beautiful kaleidoscope jellyfish (Haliclystus auricula) is strongly associated with seagrass beds and can commonly be found attached to the leaves.

In the 1930s, almost 90% of the eelgrasses around Britain died from a wasting disease, which may have been caused by a fungus.

Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Serpulid reefs

Loch Creran’s serpulid reefs grow at depths of 6 to 10m, and reach sizes of up to 75cm high and 1m across. Also known as tubeworms, the reefs create a high-rise home for a host of animals.

A dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula) investigates a serpulid reef in Loch Creran.

Duration
00:48

Made up of hundreds of individual worm tubes, serpulid reefs start with a newly-settled worm building its tube on a stone or shell on the muddy seabed.

The serpulid reefs in Loch Creran grow at depths of between 6m and 10m, and up to 75cm high and 1m across. The reefs form a high-rise home for a host of other animals, especially on a muddy seabed where there are few other places to hide or attach.

Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Serpulid reefs form a home for a host of other animals.

Duration
00:22

The organ-pipe worm (Serpula vermicularis) is a beautiful marine tubeworm with a showy crown of colourful feathery tentacles. Individual organ-pipe worms have an almost worldwide distribution, except for polar seas, but in a few special places, hundreds of them grow together forming bush like structures or 'serpulid reefs' .

Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Spiny dogfish

The spiny dogfish or spurdog (Squalus acanthias) is a critically endangered species found mainly in coastal and shelf waters in depths of 10 to 200m. Generally migratory, spiny dogfish but can exhibit degrees of residency causing local abundance in some areas off Scotland’s west coast.

A spiny dogfish passes by - Loch Sunart.

Duration
00:20

A fleeting glimpse of a spiny dogfish in Loch Sunart. The clip is brief and not the best quality, but footage of this fantastic fish is rare, so we thought we'd share it with you anyway! Also known as spurdog, its Latin name is Squalus acanthias.

Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage

Basking shark

Scotland has a few great locations for spotting basking sharks. These gentle giants have no teeth and grow to around 10m on a diet of plankton. Basking sharks prefer open waters, but move closer to shores in summer. Look for the fish feeding at the surface, with their huge mouths wide open.

Basking Shark tagging project video

Duration
02:30

11 meters long and over 7 tonnes in weight, the basking shark is the biggest fish of the north Atlantic. Each summer basking sharks - has they have done for centuries - migrate into UK waters, gathering off Scotland's west coast.

This fascinating video highlights the research undertaken to help identify and underpin a Marine Protected Area for one of Scotland's most iconic marine species.

Caption
Basking Shark Hotspots in West Scotland

Duration
06:32

Description
We are lucky to have the second largest fish in the world cruising Scottish waters each summer - an exciting sight! The basking shark grows to around 10m (33ft) long, and a few places in Scotland are particularly good for seeing them.

Credit: Scottish Natural Heritage