Red coral Corallium rubrum

Identity card

Red coral

Scientific name:
Corallium rubrum
Year of description:
Linnaeus, 1758
IUCN Status:

This relatively endemic species is mainly found in the western Mediterranean.


Red coral can grow from near the surface to a depth of about 250 metres.


40 cm span


Eggs, larvae, copepod crustaceans.

Red coral Corallium rubrum

The growth of a colony varies from 1 to 8 mm per year.


In summer, the spermatozoa of the polyps of male colonies come into contact with the eggs of the polyps of female colonies in open water.

The fertilised egg becomes a larva or planula. It then settles on a hard substrate and becomes a polyp. The colony forms by budding.

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Where is the animal to be found?

This species is associated with dimly lit rocky substrates. Red coral exists in scattered colonies or in large populations that monopolise the substrate on vertical or overhanging surfaces.

How can it be recognised?

Size varies considerably depending on habitat factors, i.e. food resources, hydrodynamics, competition, action of boring organisms. Due to years of intensive human harvesting of this species, it is rare to find colonies with a span of more than 40 cm and a weight of 2 kg. The base of the largest specimen can reach 3 cm in diameter.

What is distinctive about it?

Reproduction is both sexual and asexual. The colony reaches maturity at about 2 years of age, when it is only a few centimetres long. The colonies are either male or female.

Threat and protective measure

Harvesting red coral is prohibited in France, except by derogation granted by the French Directorate of Maritime Affairs. Red coral fishing in the Mediterranean is regulated.

It is listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention and Appendix III of the Barcelona Convention. The quantities fished would be around 5-6 metric tons for the French coast and 60-70 metric tons for the entire Mediterranean.

Red coral Corallium rubrum

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