The sunset cup coral Leptopsammia pruvoti

The sunset cup coral Leptopsammia pruvoti is a small, eye-catching species which has its centre of distribution in the central/western Mediterranean. The handful of sites in SW England where it is found are at the northernmost extent of its range. These clusters are thought now to be relic populations, all that is left of a once more widespread and prolific presence. Within UK waters, Leptopsammia pruvoti is a nationally rare species.

The sunset cup coral population at Lundy has been monitored by Sea-Scope’s Robert Irving (along with his colleague Dr Keith Hiscock), for over 30 years. During this period its numbers have steadily declined (for instance, a reduction of 78% over 25 years has been observed at one location), although diligent counting using photo-montages has revealed new recruits to the population in recent years, which should help counter that decline.

Further details of these studies can be obtained from a paper by Irving & Hiscock (2010), published in the Journal of the Lundy Field Society.