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Dead man's fingers


polyps 6-8 millimeters, colonies up to 20 centimeters


white, orange or brown


microscopic zooplankton


sexual and vegetative

  • Dut: Dodemansduim
  • Lat: Alcyonium digitatum
  • Eng: Dead man's fingers
  • Ger: Tote Mannshand
  • Dan: D°dningehind
Dead men's fingers, Foto Fitis,

Dead man's fingers

The dead man's finger is a soft coral, just as hard as cartilage. The branches are totally covered with small polyps. The polyps themselves have eight tentacles, but they are only visible with a very good magnifying glass. The polyps are readily frightened. If you were to brush against a dead man's finger, the polyps retract quickly into the coral skeleton. They only dare to come back out after several hours. If you don't see the polyps, the coral structure looks like a leathery finger.

  • Distribution and habitat

    Dead man's finger grows on hard substrate, preferably in areas with a strong current. The current provides a continual source of food. This coral is common in the Oosterschelde, but rare in other Dutch coastal waters. Dead man's coral is only found sporatically in the North Sea. Often times, you will find lots of tube-worms and brittle stars in the same habitat as the dead man's finger.