Wild Harris

Dead Mens Fingers

Link to Rocky Seabed Animals

These form branching colonies up to 25cm high or more, and are coloured either orange or white. It is arguable whether or not they resemble the fingers of a drowned sailor, but their soft rubbery bodies do sometimes look a bit like hands. When the colony is retracted it is smooth and knobbly, but when the individual animals (called polyps) extend to feed the animal is transformed into a furry mass of white feathery tentacles.

Dead mens fingers prefer to grow on rock faces with a good current for feeding, but don’t do so well where the wave action is too violent. The best places to find them In Harris are the narrows at Kyles Scalpay, and around the submarine cliffs of the Shiant Isles and Scarp.

variety of dmf.jpgVariety of Dead Mens Fingers    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

Dead men’s fingers are either orange or white. The ‘furry’ ones in this picture have extended poyps and are feeding; the smoother lumpy ones are asleep.

DMF closeup_702168705.jpgDead Mens Fingers close-up    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

Here you can see the individual coral polyps feeding in the current

 DMF polyp.jpgDead Mens Fingers Polyp    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

Time to wake up! A few of the coral polyps are actively feeding - you can clearly see the tentacles and the digestive system of the polyps.

sunstar attacking dmf.jpgSunstar attacking Dead Mens Fingers    (Photo: Paul Tyler)

Nowhere to run! The downside of being attached to the rock is being unable to escape predators. This sunstar thinks a soft coral will make a tasty snack

by Paul Tyler

Link to Rocky Seabed Animals